This is a good early example of the 1st Model 1876 rifle with the open-top frame (sans dust cover). Its a standard sporting rifle in Caliber 45-75 WCF with 28" octagon barrel, full magazine, and crescent rifle buttplate. Serial number is in the 4800 range which makes this probably one of the last Open Tops as most guns in this serial range were 2nd Models basically having the dust cover and rail added to the top of the frame. This rifle letters with correctly with the Cody Museum going into the Warehouse on May 7, 1878 and shipping on May 11, 1878 to order number 11690. This was the Winchester's first big caliber lever action rifle and many of these early Open Tops made it to the Frontier in the late 1870's.
Overall, the condition of this rifle is NRA Antique Fine with lots and lots of faded and speckled original blue remaining throughout the metal surfaces. The frame probably has at least 65% faded blue overall with the hammer and lever case colors all but silvered out. The barrel has 40% original blue that's strong in the protected areas but still streaks on the main flats of the octagon....There is perhaps 20% blue left in the protected areas of the magazine tube. This rifle looks to be right out of the attic and really needs a good cleaning as there are specks of closet rust mixed in with the blue. I want to stress that this rifle is not pitted...by closet rust, I mean little specks of surface rust that are intermingled in the patina and the blue...once removed properly, you will have patina with no pits. The wood is in VG overall condition with no cracks or repairs....nice wood to metal fit...that has never been sanded or redone. The only negative aspect of the wood is it looks like some yahoo tried to pry on the ends of the forend leaving the wood somewhat compressed in a couple places. Not a big deal but could easily be fixed if desired. Original sights include the 1876 marked ladder rear sight and the standard Winchester front sight with German silver blade. Excellent markings throughout including barrel address and Model marking on the upper tang. This rifle is all original with matching assembly numbers on the lower tang, stock, and buttplate (see photos). Good mechanics and a good bore with decent rifling...a few light pits, and no rings or bulges. This is just a good honest 1876 Winchester that hasn't been tucked away for decades...it looks like its right out of the attic.
If someone is willing to take the time to do it RIGHT, then this would be the perfect Winter-time project for someone who wants a nice early 1876 open top for a good price but don't be in a rush. By that I mean pour yourself a cup of tea, turn on the stereo, and sit down by the fire this winter and carefully peck away at the light specks of closet rust with some sort of soft metal...like a flattened piece of cartridge brass or a copper penny...this gun would really improve and be worth at least $650 to $1000 more in value. However, there is NO fast and easy way to do this...if you cut corners with steel wool or scouring pads, all that great fragile original blue will be gone! This rifle doesn't require a talented restoration artist, it just needs your time and patience in order to yield rewarding results. You won't find a nicer 1876 Open Top anywhere with more original blue for the money!!!!