William Frank “Doc” Carver was one of the great bullshit artists of his day. But the man could shoot—both on and off the field. The late nineteenth century New York Times called the ex-dentist “as fine a specimen of fully developed manhood as ever walked on Manhattan Island. More than six feet high, every part of his body is built to correspond. His chest is so deep that it would take a powerful rifle to send a bullet through it.” Doc performed unparalleled acts of marksmanship IN NEW YORK CITY. Carver continued his ballistic feats IN ENGLAND. When Doc returned stateside he set up a Wild West Show with his arch rival that increased both his fame and fortune. The above Winchester was a present to one of Dod’c ballistic BFFs. I reckon a Winchester in this condition that wasn’t one of Doc’s long guns is . . . meh. Still good to see the Carver name get a little free publicity. Again. Still. Press release from auction house after the jump . . .
LONDON – A rifle that encapsulates the magic of the Wild West will be included in Gavin Gardiner Ltd’s final auction of 2012, of Fine Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns and Rifles, which will take place on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London. Belonging to “Doc” Carver, “Champion Shot of the World”, who was a well known sharpshooter and contemporary of Buffalo Bill Cody, the major parts are from a .44 wcf model 1873 lever action rifle and are estimated at £800-1,200 . . .
It is inscribed “Presented to My Friend Charles A. Gillig by Dr Wm F. Carver, Dec 14 1880”. “Doc” Carver trained as a dentist, however it was his career as a showman and champion rifle shot for which he is remembered.
As a friend of Cody’s he acquired considerable notoriety as a rifle shot. Following his success he toured extensively and arrived in Europe in 1879 shooting at matches and exhibitions in front of Nobility and Royalty. He had a significant engagement in London at the Crystal Palace at around the time that this rifle was presented.
Upon his return from Europe he entered in to partnership with Buffalo Bill to produce a Wild West show, “Wild West”. After the first season they parted ways, and the show now known as “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” went on to achieve international recognition.
Carver continued to tour on a smaller scale for the rest of his life, famously incorporating a Diver Horse act in to the show. This element was continued by members of his family until the 1970s.
Gavin Gardiner commented: “Although the gun is on poor condition and incomplete, it comes from a period when the traveling wild west show captured the imagination of the world. Doc Carver was a business partner of Buffalo Bill as well as being renowned as a marksman and “Champion rifle shot of the world”. He toured Europe extensively from 1879 to 1881, including a long engagement at Crystal Palace where he shot and performed in front of Royalty. It is believed that this rifle was presented during this engagement.”