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Robb Design Portfolio: Big Shot

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A rifle with a hefty provenance.

Winchester’s Model 1886, designed by firearms pioneer John Browning, was the epitome of Victorian function and elegance. With its butter-smooth action, the rifle was a favorite of many sportsmen—including Theodore Roosevelt—and remained in production until 1935. This .33-caliber takedown version was commissioned for the American automotive titan John F. Dodge, who took delivery of the weapon in 1913. The flat sides of the muscular receiver provided a perfect canvas for master artisan John Ulrich’s extensive engraving and gold inlay. (Ulrich’s brother Conrad hand-carved the English walnut stock.) In 2007, the 1886 was discovered in a Dodge family closet, and, miraculously, it appears to have never been fired. On April 30, at the Historic Firearms and Early Militaria sale, Cowan’s Auctions ( of Cincinnati will sell the piece, which has an estimated value of $400,000 to $600,000.

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