Page 78 - 4090-BOOK3
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LOT 3120
Historic Deluxe Evans Repeating Co. Transition Lever Action Sporting Rifle with Factory Presentation Plaque Inscribed From the Factory to William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) on May 12, 1877 - NSN, 44 Evans cal., 26 inch round bbl., blue finish, walnut stock. Evans Repeating Rifle Company of Mechanic Falls, Maine, manufactured several models of lever action rifles from 1873 to 1879. This example is a Transition Model. It features a two-piece buttstock exposing the magazine in the center and a buttplate without a heel piece. This rifle is one of 1,050 Transition Model sporting rifles that were manufactured from 1876 to 1877. It has the Old Model action with
flat top frame and exposed loading port. The Old Model type of action was retained by Transition Model rifles. The barrel has a pinched front sight and a two-leaf folding rear sight and is marked on top “EVANS REPEATING RIFLE MECHANIC FALLS, ME/PAT. DEC 8, 1868 & SEPT. 16, 1871” ahead of the rear sight. The forend cap, lever
and trigger are nickel plated, and the remaining metal surfaces are blue. Mounted with a nicely figured smooth walnut forearm and straight grip stock. The left side of the forearm has a silver factory presentation plaque, that reads, “This Rifle Presented to/William F. Cody/May 12, 1877/By the Evans Rifle Co./Mechanic Falls, Me.” Although there is no documentation at the time of this writing, author Dwight Demeritt, Jr. provides interesting historical context that connects this rifle to the legendary showman. In “Maine Made Guns and Their Makers,” Demeritt explains, “The [Evans Company] followed the lead of other arms companies and presented specially made rifles to well-known personalities of the day. One such presentation made by the Evans Company was to William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) on May 12, 1877. A rifle, allegedly the rifle that was presented to Cody, still exists and is what the author has described as the transitional model gun. It has the old model action with the two-piece buttstock” (page 138). Demeritt cites a Maine newspaper, the “Lewiston Journal” (no issue date provided), as his source of
information. Note the similarities between the rifle Demeritt detailed in the aforementioned description and the rifle offered here: Transition Model rifle, presentation date of May 12, 1877 and Old Model action. The Evans rifle was one of the more novel repeating arms of the 19th century and had the largest capacity of any repeating rifle ever mass produced. Notable Western hero’s such as Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill used Evans repeating rifles. In at least one highly embellished retelling of Buffalo Bill’s scalping of Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hair, which has been called “the first scalp for Custer,” found in popular period dime novels, Buffalo Bill carries an Evans rifle.
The prequel to the epic duel began with Buffalo Bill spotting two scouts on horseback about to be attacked by Indians. As it is told: “Instantly Buffalo Bill dashed over the ridge of the hill that concealed him from the view of the Cheyennes, and rode directly toward the band going to attack the two white horsemen. They halted suddenly at sight of him, but, seeing that he was alone, they started for him with wild yells. But still he kept on directly toward them, until within range, when he opened upon them with his matchless Evans rifle, a thirty-four-shot repeater, and a hot fight began, for they returned the fire.” His act of heroism saved the two scouts, but soon his life was again endangered, this time by Yellow Hair. A firefight ensued that quickly devolved into hand-to-hand fighting. When the dust settled Buffalo Bill was victorious, holding in his hand the scalp of his assailant. This is
one of many contradictory telling’s of not only the duel but of Buffalo Bill’s life in general. When it came to dime novels, truth was the first causality. Dime novels helped propel Buffalo Bill to legendary status and his Buffalo Bill’s Wild West touring show made him world famous. Ned Buntline published a highly successful story and later novel loosely based on Buffalo Bill’s adventures. From the 1870s through the early part of the 20th century, many sequels, which were written by Buntline, Prentiss Ingraham and others, followed.

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