Man To Remember

First a shirt manufacturer

Of all the famous manufacturers connected with the American arms industry, probably none personally knew less about guns than Oliver Winchester. As a youth he worked on farms, learned the carpenter's and joiner's trade, and clerked in stores. Entering the dry goods and clothing business in Baltimore, he soon became a jobber and importer in New York City. There he and his partner invented a new process for shirt manufacture which Winchester patented in 1848 and which soon amassed a considerable fortune for the two men.

Winchester's connection with the firearms business began with his speculative purchase of stock in the

Volcanic Arms Co. By 1856 he

had purchased enough stock to become the principal owner, and in 1857 he was made president of the company. For several years the company manufactured both rifles and pistols, and then settled on a repeating rifle designed by B. Tyler Henry which was the direct forerunner of all the later Winchester lever-action repeating rifles.

The Henry and Winchester rifles brought financial success to the firearms branch of the firm. In 1870 Winchester bought out the Spencer Repeating Rifle Co., his chief competitor. In 1876 he purchased the invention of Benjamin B. Hotchkiss for a bolt-action rifle, and in 1879 he purchased the mechanism invented by John M. Browning for a single-shot rifle. This gun, however, was not produced until after Winchester's death the next year at the age of 70.—Harold L.'Peterson

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