An important and historic Winchester Model 1866 carbine attributed to Hunkpapa Sioux Chief Sitting Bull

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An important and historic Winchester Model 1866 carbine attributed to Hunkpapa Sioux Chief Sitting Bull

Sold for US$ 87,750 inc. premium
An important and historic Winchester Model 1866 carbine attributed to Hunkpapa Sioux Chief Sitting Bull
and use at the Battle of the Little Bighorn
Serial no. 126747 for 1876, .44 caliber. 20 inch barrel with standard sights and markings. Walnut fore-end set on either side with three groups of three brass tacks. Buttstock set with brass tacks and with period repair comprising metal strips on either side secured by brass tacks. Together with considerable provenance stating the gun was given by Sitting Bull to Dr. Nicholas Senn for attending to the chief in his later life. Several of the documents, see below, state that the gun was used by Sitting Bull at the Little Bighorn. Dr. Senn bequeathed the gun to his son, Dr. E.J Senn, who donated the gun in 1921 to the Chicago Historical Society. It was deacquisitioned by the C.H.S. on December 4, 1973. This gun has been featured in Richard Rattenburys article Legacy on Loan in the March/June 1981 issue of Man At Arms magazine. It was part of the seminal exhibition by the Ohio Gun Collectors, Guns of the Little Bighorn, listed as No. 18 in the published catalog, see below. It was on loan to the Whitney Gallery of Western Art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center for several years. It was also awarded the National Rifle Association's Weapons of Outstanding Historical Value in 1976. Provenance documents include: 1) Letter dated Oct. 12, 1921, from Dr. Otto L. Schmidt to the Chicago Historical Society stating that Dr. E.J. Senn has expressed interest in donating the Sitting Bull gun and states that the gun was used by Sitting Bull at the Custer Massacre. 2) Letter dated Oct. 29, 1921 from the Librarian,(presumably of the C.H.S.), to Dr. E.J. Senn stating We are indeed pleased to receive the gun which your father preserved for so many years... 3) Photocopy of accession document 1921.24 from the original accession books of the C.H.S., containing a description of the gun and detailing it's history; This carbine was presented to/Dr. Nicholas Senn, father of the/donor, who attended Sitting Bull/during the last years of his/life. 4) Three 3"x 5" catalog index cards from the C.H.S. for the gun. 5) A letter dated August 26, 1974 from Herbert G. Houze, Curator of Weapons for the Chicago Historical Society, detailing the history of the gun as noted in the records of the Chicago Historical Society. 6) Photocopy of pertinent sections of the catalog The Ohio Gun Collectors Association Presents Guns of the Little Bighorn. The catalog states #126747 was shipped from the Winchester factory in March of 1876. By June of that year, this gun was in the hands off the famous Indian Chief Sitting Bull... However, a request for the factory records show no information currently available for this gun. 7) A biographical sketch of Dr. Nicholas Senn.
Condition: Good to very good. Grey metal showing some minor pitting. Brass with scattered minor marks. Wood showing considerable wear, the buttstock with large sliver missing at right of upper tang and with repaired split through the center as well as chipping and a 6" crack to belly at butt.
See Illustration


  • Note: Dr. Nicholas Senn, 1844-1908, had a long and distinguished career as a surgeon in Wisconsin and Illinois and as a professor of surgery at a number of universities. He was Surgeon-General of the National Guard of Wisconsin in 1882 and was founder and first president of the Association of Military Surgeons. He saw active service during the Spanish American War and performed distinguished service in the Cuban campaign. He was also President of the Chicago Medical Society and the American Medical Association as well as author of a number of medical books as well as books detailing his travels throughout the world.
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ANTIQUE Antique - pre 1899

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