World’s Fairs have always fascinated me. The best-known first international exposition was held in 1851 in Hyde Park, London. Prince Albert launched the event under the banner “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations.” The English World’s Fair had a profound influence on art, architecture, manufacturing and international trade and tourism.
While these shows were places to display and showcase national achievements, they were monopolized by corporations seeking to advertise product. Firearms played a distinct role.
The Cody Firearms Museum is home to a collection of firearms exhibited at the 1893 Chicago and 1876 Philadelphia Fairs. Many are simply cutaway models meant to educate onlookers on the manufacturer’s technology. Others, like this Winchester Model 1866 Deluxe Sporting Rifle, were meant to awe.
This Winchester Model 1866 was made in 1873 and exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial, the first U.S. World’s Fair, commemorating the country’s first hundred years.
The Model 1866, also known as the “Yellow Boy,” was the first firearm that bore the name Winchester. This particular model, in .44 Henry, is one-of-a-kind. It has a semi-relief engraving by master engraver Conrad Ulrich. The border at the wrist features a Grecian key pattern. On the right panel is a Diana, Goddess of the Hunt scene.
It’s pretty neat to think that Winchester – a relatively young company at the time of the Fair – showed off this piece as one of its proud products that competed in both technology and artistry with the rest of the world.
For more information, visit centerofthewest.org