Looks like the photographer didn't know what the lever of a Winchester should look like. While the top of the photo was focussed well, the bottom was heavily retouched (a very common technique at the time) to look better. Note the retouching around his footwear and lower pant legs. Focal range limitations and 'washing out' of parts of the image was par for the course with early photography--a good photographer was a pretty fair artist, as well.
There's a thin line between having a hobby or having a mental illness. I am unsure as to which side of that line I fall.
It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.