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Of course the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven, Connecticut, cared not a jot whether their highly effective instruments went to the Wild West or the Wild East, nor whether they ended up in the gnarled hands of a villain, or the manicured clasp of the heir to the throne.

The records of the company confirm that this weapon, shown here, serial number 6616, was part of a shipment of 30 Winchester rifles and carbines ordered by the Prince of Wales to present to foreign dignitaries and hosts he intended to meet on his tour of India in 1875. As such it carries a silver escutcheon engraved with the royal crest, and an inscription From HRH Prince of Wales KG.GCSI.India 1875-76.

It is not known who received this gift or under what circumstances it returned to America, but the carbine turned up at a Butterfield and Butterfield arms auction in San Francisco on June 26-27, where it sold to a collector at $14,100 (£10,500) plus 17.5 per cent buyers premium.