Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
0 selections
Log In
0 selections
lots of lots
Lot 0086A
Provided in this lot is a Whitney-Kennedy Lever Action .44-40 24” octagon barrel sporting rifle. Made by the famed Whitney Arms Company in Connecticut, the Whitney-Kennedy repeating rifle was one of the finest lever action rifles of the early cartridge period and was a direct competitor of Winchester and Marlin. The company goes all the way back to when famed inventor Eli Whitney began making the Model 1798 flintlock Musket on contract for the government of the United States. Norm Flayderman writes in his classic work Antique American Firearms, “Eli Whitney and the company that bore his name are as familiar to collectors as Colt, Smith & Wesson and Winchester. There is no disputing Whitney’s stature among American arms manufacturers and inventors. No other American gun maker produced such a broad range of arms over as many historic and important eras as did Whitney. The name appeared on many models and styles from the earliest American flintlocks to lever action repeating rifles and included a host of handguns from percussion to breech-loading metallic cartridge types…” The Whitney-Kennedy lever action repeating rifle was made from 1879-1886 and was considered one of the strongest and smoothest rifles of its type. Only approx. 15,000 of all types were manufactured before production ceased. The earliest rifles had the “S-Lever” which was changed to the more familiar “loop” style seen on most lever action rifles to this day. Whitney-Kennedy rifles were made in small frame size (for the Winchester 1873 cartridges .32-20, .38-40 and .44-40) and large frame size (for the Winchester 1876 cartridges .40-60 to .50-90). Both frame sizes were made in the sporting rifle style, carbine and military musket. Considering frame sizes and different styles of arms, any kind of Whitney-Kennedy lever action firearm was a very limited production rifle. Since all of the production of this rifle was made during the Frontier Period, most of these robust arms saw hard service in the Western United States. The Whitney-Kennedy was considered such a superior weapon that in 1888 Winchester Repeating Arms bought out the entire company and ceased production of all Whitney arms! Today, surviving specimens are few and those encountered on the collector market usually show very hard use and often abuse. This example with serial number C359 was made in 1882 and has the desirable early “S Lever.” This exact rifle identified by serial number is listed in the book The Burgess Long Range Repeating Rifle Model 1878 Including Serial Numbers and Configurations of Burgess, Kennedy Rifles (etc.). It is listed as a Whitney-Kennedy rifle being made in 1882 as a .44-40 with octagon barrel (a copy of this material is included with the rifle). While this Whitney-Kennedy rifle has seen frontier service, it remains fully functioning and complete. The barrel top is correctly and clearly stamped “WHITNEYVILLE ARMORY. CT. U.S.A. KENNEDY.” “44 CAL” is also stamped on the barrel top ahead of the receiver. The upper tang is stamped with correct various patent dates ending with an August 12, 1879 stamping. Overall metal shows a deep, uncleaned patina, and the walnut stock and forend while showing typical of hard frontier use and handling are basically sound. The crescent butt plate has the correct sliding brass door for storing cleaning rods This is an exceedingly limited production rifle and a rare offering on the collector market today. The rifle qualifies as an Antique Long Gun, and does not require FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check. Serial Number: C359.


For a complete representation of condition and for additional images please call 800-686-4216. It is the buyer’s responsibility to view each image and preview the item to determine condition.

Buyer's Premium

  • 23%

Whitney-Kennedy .44-40 Lever Action Sporting Rifle

Estimate $1,800 - $2,700Aug 25, 2018