Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! The Whitney-Kennedy was a lever-action rifle produced from 1879-1886 by the Whitneyville Armory, run by Eli Whitney Jr., son of the cotton gin inventor. Around 23,500 were made. It was designed by Andrew Burgess and manufactured by Whitneyville, with improvements to the feeding system by Kennedy. The Whitney-Kennedy’s most distinctive feature was its curved, serpentine lever, replaced by a traditional lever in 1883. It was a contemporary competitor to Winchester lever-actions, produced in calibers like .44-40. As a top-eject rifle with a tube magazine, the Whitney-Kennedy operated similarly to a Winchester but used a different locking system to avoid patent infringement. Though the Whitney-Kennedy was commercially successful, Winchester purchased and shut down Whitneyville in 1888 to eliminate the competition. The innovative Whitney-Kennedy ultimately survived for less than a decade, but its unique lever and role as a Winchester rival have made it a fascinating collectors’ piece today.
“Produced circa 1879 – 1886 with a total production of approximately 15,000. This particular rifle is a small or light frame variation. The top barrel flat ahead of the rear sight is marked “WHITNEYVILLE ARMORY CT, U.S.A.” followed by “KENNEDY” and “44 CAL. C.F.” at the breech. The two line patent marking is on the upper tang and the serial number is marked on the lower tang. German silver blade front and adjustable buckhorn rear sights. Full length magazine, “S” style lever and mounted with a smooth walnut forearm with iron end cap and straight grip stock with crescent buttplate with compartment (cleaning rod not included).”
Lot 9: Whitney-Kennedy Lever Action Sporting Rifle. (n.d.-a). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved January 17, 2024, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/52/9/whitneykennedy-lever-action-sporting-rifle.