On July 4, 1976, legendary screen actor John Wayne helped ring in the dedication of the Winchester Arms Collection in Cody, Wyoming. In November the year prior, the Olin Corporation (better known as Winchester Ammunition) began the paperwork to loan about 4,000 guns and tens of thousands of original design drawings, ephemera, and records to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (then Historical Center).
This collection did not solely include Winchesters; it also housed historic guns, such as this Jennings Rifle. In a previous post, I talked about the Hunt Volitional Rifle as the earliest ancestor to the Winchester lever action rifle. The Jennings was an improvement on that gun.
Manufactured by Robbins & Lawrence, this Jennings 2nd Model Rifle is serial number 28 and was made in the early 1850s. It is beautifully embellished; the walnut buttstock has German silvery inlay and the receiver, buttplate, hammer, breech, and muzzle have scroll engraving. If the beautiful engraving and low serial number didn’t pack enough ͞Wow Factor. I can do you one better – It belonged to Oliver Winchester.
In a letter dated February 10, 1871, Winchester wrote to R.S. Lawrence stating that he should like it for his collection. While most likely not the first gun in the Winchester collection, it is the earliest known reference to it.
For more information, visit centerofthewest.org