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 LOT 91
Exceptional L.D. Nimschke Exhibition Quality Game Panel Scene Engraved Whitney-Laidley Rolling Block Rifle - Serial no. 9611, 45-70 cal., 34 inch round bbl., blue/gold finish, walnut stock. Manufactured in 1871-1881, these
rifles were designed to compete with Remington’s prolific No. 1 rolling block rifles but were never as popular and
are thus fairly rare. This beautiful example is made even rarer and more desirable as it features a fantastic exhibition quality
engraving by renowned 19th century master engraver L.D. Nimschke. According to “Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms,” around 5,000 sporting and target rifles were manufactured by Whitney (page 289). Very few were engraved, making this example one of
the rarest American single shot rifles in existence. It is the first of any type of engraved examples we have cataloged. The receiver received full coverage of Nimschke’s intertwined flowing foliate arabesque patterns on fine punch dot background along with two finely detailed game scenes. On
the left side of the receiver are two quail in a circular panel scene, and the top of the receiver has a bird dog on point. The bird dog is nearly identical to Nimschke’s smoke pulls of his vignettes published in R.L. Wilson’s “L.D. Nimschke Firearms Engraver” on page 93. The hammer, breechblock,
breechblock safety, and trigger guard are engraved to match with various patterns including Nimschke’s dot and checkerboard motif. Even the screw heads are engraved.
The upper tang has the three-line patent dates marking as well as a Vernier sight with 4 3⁄4 inch staff graduated to 800 yards. The barrel is fitted with a windgauge adjustable globe front sight with level, lacks maker markings, has no provision for a rear sight, and is numbered
to the gun under the forearm. The forearm and buttplate are also numbered to the gun. The serial number on the lower tang is faint. The front of the stock has the matching first digits of the serial number (“96”) and the butt of the stock is numbered to the gun along with the handwritten name “J. DEEKS,” a previous owner who passed away in 2007. The
forearm and pistol grip stock are checkered walnut and have raised side panels at the receiver. The forearm has a horn tip, and the buttstock is drilled for a sling swivel and fitted with a smooth steel shotgun style buttplate. The receiver and trigger guard were gold washed. The buttplate is plated in nickel. The barrel is blued. This beautiful
rifle has all the appearance of being commissioned as a World’s Fair exhibition piece, possibly the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 held in Philadelphia. From 1996 to 2016 this rifle was loaned to the Buffalo Bill Historic Center.
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine. The barrel retains 98% plus period retailer applied blue finish. Traces of period gold wash remains in the recesses of the engraving with stronger amounts on the receiver under the wood,
otherwise 90% exposed period plating remains with the balance a smooth gray patina. 60% of the period retailer applied nickel plating remains on the buttplate. The engraving is crisp. The wood is very fine with minor
handling marks, most of the original varnish remaining, and overall crisp checkering. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a beautiful Nimschke exhibition quality engraved Whitney-Laidley Rolling Block rifle worthy of the
finest public or private collection.
Provenance: Loaned to the Buffalo Bill Historic Center from 1996 to 2016; Property of a Gentleman.
   Estimate: 15,000 - 25,000

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