First Model Henry Rifle

.44 RF caliber, S/N 315, 24.5" octagonal barrel with first model-style barrel markings, front sight, cut in frame where the cartridge following rests. Case hardened hammer, early perch-belly buttstock with early style comb, early rounded buttplate, original four-piece cleaning rods as well as the original 1000-yard barrel sight. Firearm was made without lever safety latch. This rifle is 100% correct and untouched.

This firearm descends from the family that originally purchased the rifle in New Haven, Connecticut in 1860. Unique First Model Henry rifle with unbroken family lineage This historic early lever action repeater is all the more remarkable because, incredibly, the gun descended through six generations of the same illustrious Ohio family since its original purchase in 1860 by scion Samuel Livingston Mather (1817-1890), himself a blood relative of the prominent Mather clan associated with early Puritan Connecticut.

The Ohio patriarch Samuel L. Mather settled in burgeoning Cleveland in 1843 where he founded the Cleveland Iron Mining Company in 1846, laying the framework of the Mather mining fortune. Family tradition holds that Samuel Mather bought the new repeating rifle in 1860 “from the factory in Connecticut.”

Born in Cleveland the namesake Samuel L. Mather II (1851-1931) expanded the legacy of the father ultimately becoming “the richest man in Ohio.” Mather established Pickands, Mather & Company as the fourth largest mining company in the United States with extensive operations in Michigan and the Lake Superior region. During the height of the industrial revolution raw ore was transported to Cleveland’s voracious smelters (furnaces) in a fleet of Great Lakes cargo vessels owned by Mather. By the standards of the gilded age Samuel Mather was an iron-ore magnate, drawing comparison to John D. Rockefeller who founded the iconic Standard Oil Company in Cleveland in 1870.

Mather achieved the success of a capitalist without the brand of robber-baron and was considered by many of his contemporaries to be “the greatest philanthropist of his day.” He gave magnanimously to the public health and educational institutions of Cleveland as the city prospered as the center of steel production. Later, he founded the Cleveland Red Cross while endowing Kenyon College.

The eldest of the third generation was also Samuel L. Mather III born in 1882 (d. 1960). A 1905 Yale graduate who later developed a particular interest in agriculture, Mather was also a keen industrialist and philanthropist who served as Chairman of the multi-faceted Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company as it became known in 1890 after absorbing numerous competitors. As businesses consolidated, Mather ran the company according to the new Wall Street model, that is a market traded company “intent on maximizing market share,” and the company prospered during the First World War.

There would be no Samuel L. Mather IV, but two daughters named Flora Stone and Elizabeth (Betz). Elizabeth would later inherit the Henry.

Family recollection holds that Samuel Mather acquired the rifle from his younger brother, Amasa Stone Mather, who died prematurely at age 36. Amasa Mather (1884-1920) had been a wealthy sportsman and gun collector known for his hunting expeditions to Africa. It is said that Amasa Mather’s well organized safari influenced fellow big game hunter Teddy Roosevelt who wrote enthusiastically on the topic. Samuel Mather III died in 1931 and his estate bequeathed millions of dollars to various institutional beneficiaries in Cleveland, as well as Kenyon College.

The Henry rifle passed to his youngest married daughter, Elizabeth Betz, who, in turn, passed the rifle to her daughter, the consignor’s current wife who shall remain anonymous. Also a gun collector, the consignor was given the Henry as a birthday present by his mother-in-law years ago. The consignor recalls the long ago birthday together with an admonition that the rifle “was an historic object and was not to be fired!” And so it appears never to have been.

After 150 uninterrupted years residing with the same illustrious family, Cowan’s is pleased to offer this extraordinary Henry Rifle — inseparable from its amazing Ohio heritage - for sale.

Condition:Barrel is mint and crisp retaining 70% of the original blue finish thinning and turning plum. Mint barrel markings are very sharp and crisp. Rear sight has caused a small minute marking in the barrel address. Rear barrel sight retains most of the original blue finish. Brass has a beautiful untouched mustard patina. Screws are untouched and have never been indexed. Buttstock has never been off the rifle and it retains all of the original varnished finish. A very small chip of wood is missing from the toe of stock. Hammer still retains most of the original case colored finish. Lever retains most of the original blue finish. Bore is excellent. Firing pin and extractor still retain most of the original blue finish. One of the most outstanding first model Henry rifles to come up for sale in years.

Estimate: $85,000 - $125,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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