Developments after the Civil War
Oliver Winchester did well. His rifle factory is closing in early 2006 after
140 years pf making the fabled Winchester rifles. See a newspaper article at:
He is more of a modern venture capital success story then a wild west story.
Winchester made his early money building homes in Baltimore, Maryland. I wonder
if any of those 160 to 180 year old houses are still standing? Then he went into
making men's shirts when factory made shirts were first coming out. Shrewd
Then the gun making bug bit him just when there the most exciting news in the
history of gun technology was breaking - the self contained metallic cartridge
which enabled the inventing of repeating firearms. Smith & Wesson were making a
few pistols with the mechanism that became the early Winchester rifles, but S&W
thought revolvers a better line of business. That lever action just needed a
little something and they weren't sure what.
Henry Rifle Mechanism
Tyler Henry took over the mechanism, improved it for the
latest developments in manufacturing cartridges, and made 14,000 or so
Henry rifles during the Civil War. But he needed a little financial
help. Which Winchester provided by guaranteeing the bank loan secured
with mortgage style liens against Henry's and Winchester's homes. Good
ole commercial financing, and all was well.
Until the gun business went bust after the Civil War when the country
was awash in guns. Couldn't sell new made guns in sufficient quantities
to keep going.
So the bank called the notes, and Oliver Winchester bought the notes to
keep the bank from foreclosing.
Being the note holder on Tyler Henry's house made a difference, as Henry
thought his rifle was perfect. It's called the inventor syndrome in
financial circles. Happens all the time. Winchester the marketeer had a
problem. Sales were insufficient, and that rifle Henry was making had a
few faults, especially in the easily damaged magazine. It went something
like "see here, ole boy, you will invent the loading gate, or else lose
Voila! Instant loading gate, instant protection for the magazine, and
the first Winchester was born--later called the model 1866. To be
followed by many more models.
Well done, Oliver.
For more traditional information, consult "Flayderman's
Guide To Antique American Firearms" by Norm Flayderman, and the
Winchester Book by George Madis.
||1200 feet per second