The Mort Künstler Civil War Tribute Rifle
For many of us, the Civil War is a source of enduring fascination. It was a time of unparalleled drama, an epic battle that turned state against state, friend against friend, and brother against brother. It was a domestic war that produced some of history’s greatest military leaders and most memorable battles, even as it tore the country apart, claiming the lives of more Americans than any other war in history.
The element of human drama, which played out in the cities and countryside of our nation, continues to intrigue and excite us. This was a fiery trial ultimately forging a more lasting, unshakable union, and today, names of the battlefields and leaders from the Civil War continue to stir our emotions.
Today, many generations since the last gunshots echoed in 1865, the events and figures of the Civil War continue to captivate and intrigue us, and interest in the Civil War has never been stronger. It has been said that to understand the United States, you must first comprehend the magnitude of the Civil War.
With that in mind, I am enormously pleased to provide you with an advance look at our first Civil War Tribute rifle featuring artwork from America’s foremost historical artist – The Mort Künstler Civil War Tribute Henry Rifle. Not only is Mort Künstler America’s foremost historical artist, he is also America’s leading Civil War artist. We were thrilled when Mr. Künstler agreed to team with us on his first-ever design for a Civil War firearm issue. As the very first rifle ever authorized by Mort Künstler, this exclusive issue is certain to be a prized possession for Civil War and firearms enthusiasts alike.
You are receiving this advance notice so that you can have the opportunity to reserve this historic Tribute before we release it to other collectors. With an edition limit of only 300 rifles, we anticipate a strong demand, but with this notice, you have the opportunity to secure one for yourself if you act promptly. As you review the letter and enclosed brochure, you will learn more about this remarkable rifle and how you can acquire one for your own collection.
The Legendary Henry Repeating Rifle
For this first ever issue with Mort Künstler, we both agreed that there was one rifle that stood out as the perfect firearm for this issue – the Henry rifle.
The Henry rifle is considered by many as the most technologically advanced firearm of the Civil War and a highly prized weapon among fighting men on both sides of the conflict. The Henry also provides the perfect palette for Mort Künstler’s hand-drawn vignettes, which he personally selected for this Tribute, each based upon his popular Civil War paintings.
The revolutionary design of the Henry was the brainchild of its namesake, Benjamin Tyler Henry, plant foreman of Oliver Winchester’s New Haven, Connecticut firearms factory. In 1858, legendary gun-maker Oliver Winchester was on the verge of financial collapse after the failure of his line of “Volcanic” firearms, with their self-contained but weak lead-powder-and-primer bullets. He directed Henry to fashion a self-contained, powerful, and safe new cartridge. Henry’s solution was an ingenious .44 caliber rimfire metal-cased cartridge, which the Volcanic could be modified to accept.
Henry’s innovation saved the New Haven company, and it was the forerunner of the classic Winchester rifles to follow. In his honor, the gun became known as “Henry’s Repeating Rifle” and each cartridge bore his initial “H” on the head. Each Henry rifle held up to fifteen cartridges in the magazine with another in the chamber, a sensational feat of engineering for the day. The Henry rifle was lighter than the ball-and-powder rifles of the day, and earned the nickname “sixteen shooter” in an age of single-shot rifles.
The Henry rifle raised military combat to a new level, with its ease of loading and rapid lever-action firing capabilities, and ability to perform in foul weather. A newspaper report from 1862 praised the Henry rifle and stated “…one man, with the weapon, is equal to fifteen armed with ordinary guns….”
First utilized by Union troops, the Confederate forces held the Henry rifle in high regard. It was written that the famed Confederate guerilla leader Mosby said of the Henry – “He did not care for the common gun, or for Spencer’s seven shooter, but as for those guns that they could wind up on Sunday, and shoot all week, it was useless to fight against them.”
“A Moment In History, Frozen In Time”
Mort Künstler has spent decades perfecting his remarkable artistic skills. Künstler’s gift was nurtured by his studies during college, followed by many years as an illustrator, working with such publications as National Geographic, Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek. By the 1970’s, his brilliant paintings began attracting the attention of serious art collectors, and he was featured in a solo showing at New York City’s famed Hammer Galleries.
In the early 1980’s, CBS-TV commissioned Künstler to create a painting for the mini-series “The Blue and The Gray,” which opened his eyes to the subject of the Civil War. In 1988, his masterpiece “The High Water Mark,” which depicts Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg, was unveiled at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the battle, and was critically acclaimed as the most accurate and exciting painting ever done of the event. Since then, his primary focus has been upon the Civil War. “I feel that all my training and background has led me to the Civil War,” says Mort Künstler. “It’s really an exciting adventure.”
Mort Künstler has always emphasized authenticity in his paintings, extensively researching weapons, flags, uniforms, and equipment of the era while spending countless hours consulting with historians and visiting the actual battlefield site. “Collectors of Civil War art don’t expect just good art – they demand authentic historical art,” adds Künstler. The abundance of subject matter is a dream come true for Künstler who says, “so much happened in the Civil War that begs to be painted.”
Künstler’s status as America’s foremost Civil War artist has earned him praise and recognition from collectors of Civil War art, as well as numerous Civil War historians and museum curators. The Governor of Virginia recently honored his accomplishments with a “Mort Künstler Day,” and in addition, his artwork has been featured in many one-man exhibitions at galleries and museums throughout the United States.
It has been said of the Civil War artist that a Künstler painting is like a moment in history, frozen in time. I’m sure millions of Americans who have enjoyed his work share this view.
A Modern Day Masterpiece
The Tribute is a meticulously detailed recreation of the Henry rifle. Crafted by the incomparable artisans of Aldo Uberti, these master craftsmen have painstakingly reproduced the greatest firearms of history for more than four decades. The Henry rifle is always in demand, as only a limited quantity can be produced each year. I am pleased that we have been able to make special arrangements with Uberti to acquire the rifles for this special project, and if you act now, you can get in on the ground floor of this offer.
The Tribute is a fully functional, working rifle in .44-40 caliber. The blued, 24 1/4 inch half-octagonal barrel with a tubular magazine is complemented perfectly by a brass frame – like many original Henry rifles – and by the polished walnut stocks. As you review the Tribute, your eyes are immediately drawn to the artwork prepared by Mort Künstler, which is featured in 24-karat gold and nickel with a special blackened patinaed background to magnificently highlight the details of the design.
On the left side of the receiver, three separate Künstler works are shown. In the center, you will find “Review at Moss Neck.” It’s January 1863 near Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson review J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry. It was a colorful event during a calm in the fighting. J.E.B. Stuart and “Stonewall” Jackson were two of Lee’s finest commanders, and their deaths later in the war would be major blows for the Confederate forces. To the left, you will see “The High Tide,” which features Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The Confederate forces briefly broke through the Union line, but were eventually turned back. For many, this historic moment represents a turning point for the Confederate forces. To the far right, a Confederate soldier pauses for water in “Still Flying,” a companion piece to “War Between the States,” which is featured on the right side.
The right side of the Tribute’s receiver also features three famous Künstler works. The middle vignette showcases a Künstler favorite, “Chamberlain’s Charge,” as Joshua Chamberlain leads Union forces in a bayonet charge against the Confederate forces attacking. To the right, Lee and Jackson are shown on horseback in “…They Were Soldiers Indeed.” To the far left you will find a Union soldier drinking from his canteen in “War Between the States,” counterpart to the image of a Confederate soldier on the reverse side. This image is one of Künstler’s earliest Civil War paintings.
Each of the six images for the Tribute were hand drawn by Mort Künstler especially for the design of the rifle’s receiver. Working with the design of the gun, Künstler selected some of his most popular images, depicting both action and pageantry, and tailored the images to fit the gun. “For this project,” says Künstler, “I felt it was important to have a balanced representation of both sides of the war. The right side has a Union focus, with Chamberlain’s Charge prominently featured. This scene captures a crucial moment for the Union at Gettysburg, as their bayonet charge threw back Confederates who were on the brink of a major breakthrough in the Union line. The other side features the Confederate flavor, with the behind-the-lines pageantry as portrayed in Review at Moss Neck, with Generals Lee and Jackson inspecting Stuart’s cavalry troops, while the action of the war is depicted in The High Tide, with Pickett’s famed charge at Gettysburg. Review at Moss Neck is a special piece, and is on the cover of my book Jackson and Lee – Legends in Gray.”
Craftsmen commissioned specifically for this Tribute by the United States Society of Arms & Armour, the Antique Arms Division of America Remembers, have captured Mr. Künstler’s artwork in minute detail, with a nickel decorated background serving as the canvas for the artwork, which is highlighted with a special blackened patina for maximum detail. The six Civil War images are then framed by a 24-karat gold decorated background, which also features elegant scrollwork with symbolic Union and Confederate images intertwined throughout the scrollwork pattern. Completing the Tributes decorations are the polished and decorated 24-karat gold lever, butt plate, hammer and trigger. Finally, to identify this Tribute as an authentic and official Künstler creation, you will find Künstler’s own stylish signature laser-carved into the stock, adding additional authenticity to the Tribute.