Winchester Pre-64 Model 70 Rifles
Serial Numbers 1 and 2
Absent anything short of absolute certainty, each of these rifles stands among the world’s most important and valuable sporting arms. That they are paired presents an unequaled acquisition opportunity.
Serial Numbers 1 and 2
Both rifles have a captivating history. According to Roger Rule’s “The Rifleman’s Rifle”, serial number 1 was marked on January 20, 1936. As Winchester records are unavailable so far as supporting a proper factory letter is concerned, the actual shipping date and destination are unknown. As detailed in “Winchester Model 70 No. 1”, a feature article appearing in the June, 1990 issue of “American Rifleman” (bound copy included), the current owner’s uncle purchased the rifle from a hardware store in Durango, Colorado during the 1937 hunting season.
Whether new or used when that sale was wrung, the rifle was already fitted with a Lyman receiver sight. Upon returning from the hunting trip, the owner had the rifle drilled and tapped in order to install a 10x Fecker scope, then hunted with it for the next forty years. In 1977, after borrowing it over the course of several deer seasons, the current owner formally acquired the rifle still wearing the Fecker and with the Lyman sight in tow.
Staggeringly, another ten years passed before a chance showing resulted in a dealer getting the vapors and blurting a surprisingly high offer. This sparked a curiosity which lead to the realization that his plain old Model 70 was the first of its kind. With significant reservation, the rifle was retired from hunting after 50 years of faithful and flawless service.
Published in 1982 by Alliance Books, “The Rifleman’s Rifle” did much to expand and solidify collector interest in Winchester pre-64 Model 70 rifles. Quite naturally, the owner of the number 1 rifle acquired a copy as part of his research. Page 193 carried a photo of serial number 2 from the author’s collection, and page 52 showed a photo of a letter from Richard Pelton, Winchester’s Director of Marketing dated March 6, 1980. Written to Mrs. Ethel M. Lied, the letter mentions the January 20, 1936 marking date for the number 1 rifle and also states that assembly of Model 70 rifles did not begin until 1937.
Pointedly, the letter references Mrs. Lied’s inquiries as to the value of her rifle – serial number 2. No doubt, ownership of the number 2 rifle passed to Roger Rule at approximately this time. At some point thereafter, the number 2 rifle was presented for sale at a major gun show attended by the owner of rifle number 1. As things tend to do, one lead to another and ownership of serial number 2 transferred to him.
To no surprise, both rifles are of “standard” configuration and chambered in .30-06 Springfield.