One of the first really commercially successful commemorative firearms I believe was the Winchester Model 94 30-30 Winchester Centennial Commemorative rifle offered for sale in 1966 to celebrate Winchester gun company’s 100 years. The lever was offered in 20” carbine or 26” rifle. Approximately 102,000 were built.
The following year the Canadian Centennial 1867-1967 was produced for sale. It also was a Model 94 Lever in 30-30 Winchester offered also in carbine & rifle. I remember the Buffalo Bill commemorative offered in both rifle & carbine lever 30-30 Model 94 Winchester. The Winchester Arms Company sent a box about 24” square (some assembly required) with ballots to fill out in the general store (we were selling ammo at the time) and being really interested in firearms I was really excited. However, we never sold whatever the ballots were for and I filled the box with empty 22 boxes.
Not content to offer one commemorative rifle, Winchester was offering two or more. In 1971 Winchester offered the N.R.A. commemorative in 2 models of the 94 30-30 Winchester. They offered a musket full wood to the muzzle cap, 26” barrel and a rifle with a 24” barrel. I remember the dealer I was working for in 1972 taking about 20 N.R.A. rifles we’d bought from a distributor on a deal and cutting the barrels to carbine length.
One of the most successful commemoratives in Canada was the 1973 issue of the R.C.M.P. 100 years 1873-1973 commemorating the organizing of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (known originally as the North West Mounted Police). The gold plated Mod.94 full length wood 22” barrel standards were sold to the public about 9500. 4850 were made for members of the R.C.M.P. with M.P. prefix serial numbers. The original selling price for the standard was $189.50 and within weeks the secondary market price was $450.00. This commemorative at present time unfired in the original box will sell for $1,000.00 - $1,250.00.
Winchester, who had acquired the Cobourg Cooey Factory, assembled made in Canada Indian commemoratives Apache, Comanche, Cherokee, Sioux, Yellowboy and Cheyenne that were sold in Canada and Europe. Europe was cowboy and Indian crazy with spaghetti westerns and John Wayne etc. Canada also has the Klondike, North West Territories, later Alberta and Saskatchewan commemoratives Calgary Stampede and Canadian Pacific. The Canadian manufactured Indian commemoratives are fairly sought after in the U.S. secondary market.
Winchester also offered the younger brother of the Model 94. The 94/22 was a scaled down well made Model 94 in 22 long rifle, 22 Win Mag and 17 HMR. This 94/22 became a companion commemorative to such models as the Cheyenne and the Cherokee. The 94/22 was also issued for its 25th Anniversary of the firearm also a commemorative for Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts. The manufacture of the 94/22 ended in 2006. In 2005-2006 Winchester offered Limited Edition Tribute Model 94s in 22 LR and 22 Win Mag.