MAJOR TOWNSEND WHELEN’S LUDWIG WUNDHAMMER SPRINGFIELD RIFLE. Cal. 30-06

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November 4, 5, 6, & 7, 2022

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MAJOR TOWNSEND WHELEN’S LUDWIG WUNDHAMMER SPRINGFIELD RIFLE.

22-2223

Cal. 30-06
S# 369038

This historically significant rifle came to light in recent years when, during an online search, Michael Petrov (author of “Custom Gunmakers of the 20th Century”) found this old rifle listed for sale. In the second volume of his books, he relates the history of his buying this rifle & the research he undertook to tell its story. In chapter 3, he identifies, pictures & describes this particular rifle & its history from identification of the Whelen family crest found on the bbl. to Whelen’s picturing the rifle in his book “The American Rifle” (1918), as well as his 1922 Alberta hunt when the rifle was given to Whelen’s guide & friend, Stanley Clark.

The rifle is based on a Springfield Armory 1903 action made in 1909 which saw little alteration. The original bbl. was recontoured & military rear sight removed. Bbl. date “6-09” still remains. Whelen’s family crest is engraved at the top of the breech end. At one time, the rifle was drilled & tapped for scope blocks. The bottom of the bolt knob is flattened & checkered & right side of action bridge is fitted with a prototype Lyman 48 receiver sight with bottom of long slide graduated to “30” & marked “Patent Pending”. Sight appears to be mostly hand finished & is stamped “4” on the inside of the slide. Petrov relates that “It is believed that no more than 6 of these were made. One went to Crossman & one went to Whelen. With their input, the final sight as we know it today was built.” Magazine follower remains unaltered. Trigger blade is checkered & trigger is still double pull, but second pull is light, crisp & clean. Bottom metal is plain & unaltered from standard issue. As described & pictured by Whelen, the rifle originally had bottom metal heavily engraved & this engraving included the insignia of the Campfire Club of America. Petrov speculates that the bottom metal was removed by Whelen around 1922 when he gave the rifle to Stanley Clark during a hunting expedition in Alberta, Canada (Petrov also relates that the rifle was sent to him from northern Alberta). The pistolgrip stock is of dense European walnut with some stump figure & a bit of marbling. Trap steel buttplate is serrated. Right hand cheekpiece is of the style that would later become synonymous with Whelen’s name. Checkering is of semi fancy pattern. The steel gripcap gives an idea of the extent of the engraving found on the original bottom metal with its geomtric bands. The stock itself is known to have been made by Ludwig Wundhammer (1853-1919) who is one of the earliest makers of custom bolt action rifle stocks in America. It exhibits his early style with Germanic sidepanels & small schnabled tip. His shop was in Los Angeles, California & in his working time, produced perhaps a couple hundred very fine sporting rifles. Today, his rifles are highly regarded & eagerly sought after.

PROVENANCE: Collection of Michael Petrov – Amoskaeg Auction #104. (22-2223/MGM).

CURIO. $5,000-12,000.

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