Page 174 - 4090-BOOK1
P. 174

 LOT 203
Historic L.D. Nimschke Exhibition Quality Engraved Silver and Gold Presentation Colt Lightning Medium Frame Slide Action Rifle Inscribed to the President of the Bank of Minneapolis with George Madis Letter - Serial no. 43282, 44-40 WCF cal., 26 inch octagon bbl., silver/gold finish, walnut stock. This extraordinary engraved Colt Lighting rifle was manufactured in 1890 and was presented to the president of the Bank of Minneapolis R.D. Kirby in 1893 and so inscribed. In his accompanying letter, renowned firearms historian and author George Madis identified the engraving as the work by
famed 19th century master engraver L.D. Nimschke. Madis wrote, “Having examined many guns over a period of years which were definitely engraved by L.D. Nimschke, it is my opinion that this rifle was engraved by Nimschke. A close examination of borders, fillers and the overall layout of the work indicate Nimschke work. Scrolls of the type on this gun, with the entwined pattern, stylized flowers and dense scrollwork are typical of Nimschke. A very close examination of the background and shading show that each facet of this engraving is typical of his work in the period this rifle was produced.” Similar patterns are found Nimschke’s smoke pulls published by R.L. Wilson in “L.D. Nimschke Firearms Engraver” (see page 18 and 66). Unfortunately, the rifle falls within a block of 16000 numbers in the Colt records where there are few if any records have survived (see included 1981 dated factory letter). The rifle was most likely shipped to New York for engraving at the Nimschke shop before it was presented to R.D. Kirby.
Included information provided by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1982 indicated R.D. Kirby was president of the Bank of Minneapolis circa 1891 to 1894 and then again circa 1896 to 1898. Prior to becoming the bank’s president, Kirby was president of the Chicago Jewelry Manufacturing Co. An included 1982 dated letter from the Chicago Historical Society lists Kirby as building the Grand Pacific Hotel in 1888 and the Virginia Hotel in 1895. Both hotels were in Chicago where Kirby resided for many years.
The rifle features near full coverage relief floral scroll engraving on the receiver with extended areas of matching scrollwork on the barrel at the breech and muzzle. The wonderful Nimschke pattern flowing intertwined scroll is on finely punch dot shade background. A flower blossom is engraved near the center of the left side of the receiver. Amongst the scrollwork on the bolt is a dog’s head. Five barrel flats are decorated with 4 inch sections of engraving along with wedges of scrollwork flanking the two-line Colt address ahead of the rear sight and “44 CAL” marking at the breech. The buttplate has scrollwork on the tang and is inscribed “COMPLIMENTS/OF/Bank of Minneapolis/TO ITS PRESIDENT/MR. R. D. KIRBY/From Sports of the Chase Nov. 1893”. The inscription suggests that the rifle was presented to Kirby by a hunting club. From the Latin word venari, venery means “sports of the chase” or simply “hunting.” The rifle is fitted with a blade front sight and an elevation rear sight. The plain straight grip stock and checkered side handle are standard grade walnut.

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