This came to us indirectly from the family of the original owner who was from Wisconsin and purchased this rifle new back in the late 1890's. It has never been in a collection before and is in untouched condition. It's a Winchester 1894 Special Order Semi Deluxe or "Poor Man's Deluxe Rifle" with straight grain American walnut. Basically, it's the same as a Marlin Deluxe with special order pistol gripped stock and a checkered stock and forend using plain walnut instead of select burl 1X, 2X, or 3X. A lot of hunters preferred straight walnut to burl walnut on pistol gripped Winchesters because it tended to be lighter and less prone to breakage, not to mention less expensive. Hence the term "poor man's deluxe". However, while it's listed as plain wood it does have some nice subtle tiger striping as the custom shop often put slightly better walnut on their rifles with special orders. This one also has a special order shotgun buttplate. Standard 26" octagon barrel, full magazine, and the caliber is .30 WCF. We called the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum and everything checks out:
WINCHESTER MODEL 1894 - SERIAL NUMBER 28969
Serial number applied on October 25, 1897
Barrel Type: Octagon
Plain stock, Pistol grip, Checkered Shotgun butt
Received in warehouse on June 13, 1898
Shipped from warehouse on June 14, 1898, Order number 10486
Nice and 100% correct early features include the early Winchester/Model/Patent Date on the upper tang, the decorative 1890's dipped border hammer checkering, early two-line Winchester barrel address, rust blued barrel/mag tube, highly polished heat blued receiver, case colored hammer/lever, and nitre blued loading port. The sights consist of a platinum lined express rear and a Lyman combination globe front sight. The pistol grip lower tang, buttplate, and stock have matching assembly numbers.
Overall, the metal is in Excellent Condition with 90% original blue on the receiver and 97% original blue on the barrel and magazine tube. Hammer shows 70% original case colors while the lever shows 25% faded colors. Nice strong 75% original nitre blue on the loading port. The wood is in Very Good Condition Overall, solid with no chips, cracks or repairs. About half of the original varnish is remaining on the buttstock with good checkering. You can see the tiger striping in the grain pretty much across the entire back half of the right side while the stripes sort of curl over the top and bottom of the left side like flames around the side of a log on your fireplace. Attractive wood and over the years, we've seen enough semi-deluxes to observe that the Winchester Custom Shop had a habit of putting this better wood on their special order guns. My guess is that all the fancy wood was sent to the custom shop (I believe this is mentioned in the Winchester Book by Madis) and when blanks were cut, they often ended up with pieces that were fancy but not symmetrical enough on both sides to charge extra for. Thus, they were sort of given away as a bonus on other custom shop orders such as this rifle. This rifle was carried by the forend resulting in no remaining varnish and the checkering showing considerably more wear from the way in which it was toted while hunting. The bore is Excellent. Action is perfect. Nice untouched example of an early 1894 Semi-Deluxe with a very desirable antique serial number, configuration verified by Cody, and came right out of the family of the original owner. Go look at all of the full Deluxe 1894's in similar condition with price tags between $10-15,000 and you'll quickly realize this one is a bargain!