SOLD FOR: $4275
LSB#: 220419FD003, 220419FD004, 220419FD005
Make: Spencer Repeating Arms Co. (FD003), Starr Arms Co., New York (FD004), Christian Sharps Firearms Co. (FD005)
Model: Spencer Carbine Model 1860 (FD003), Starr 1858 Army Revolver (FD004), Sharps Model 1A Pepperbox (FD005)
Serial#: 36108 (FD003), 22859 (FD004), 6454 (FD005)
Year of Manufacture: Circa 1863-1865 (FD003), 1861-1865 (FD004), 1859-1874 (FD005) Antique
Caliber: .56-56 Spencer Rimfire (FD003), .44 Caliber (FD004), .22 Short (FD005)
Action Type: Lever-Actuated Repeating Rifle with a Butt-Fed Magazine (FD003), Single/Double-Action Percussion Revolver with a 6-Round Cylinder (FD004); Single-Action Forward Sliding Breech-Loaded Pistol (FD005)
Markings: The top of the receiver is marked “SPENCER REPEATING / RIFLE CO. BOSTON MASS. / PAT’D MARCH 6 1860” and features the serial number “36108”. The right side of the lever is marked “R”. The right side of the lower breech block are both marked “J”. The bottom of the barrel, concealed by the forend, is serial matched. The bottom of the wrist appears to be marked “Z”.(FD003)
The left side of the frame is marked “STARR.ARMS.Co.NEW.YORK.” The right side of the frame is marked “STARR’S PATENT JAN.15.1856.” The cylinder is marked with the serial number “22859” and the number “3767”. The top of the grip, concealed by the frame, is marked “22859”. The back and front-straps are serial matched to the cylinder. The underside of the hammer is serial matched to the cylinder. The front-face of the top-strap assembly, just under the ramrod, is serial matched and has a small proof. The bottom of the barrel, concealed by the ramrod assembly, is serial matched. (FD004)
The left side of the frame is marked with a faded stamp “C. SHARPS / PATENT 1859” around the hammer screw. The right side of the frame is marked “C. SHARPS & Co. / PHILADELPHIA, PA” around the hammer screw. The bottom of the barrel assembly is marked “6454”. The butt-strap and grip retainer are also serial matched.
Barrel Length: 22” (FD003), 6” (FD004), 2.5” (FD005)
Sights/ Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to a base by the muzzle. The rear sight is a ladder sight which presents a “V”-notch in the down position. When raised the ladder presents an integral “V’-notch at the top and a “V”-notch slider (the slider appears to be jammed by oxidation). The ladder is marked 2-8, inclusive. (FD003)
The front sight on the Starr is a blade dovetailed by the muzzle. The rear sight is a “V”-notch integral to the hammer, visible when the hammer is cocked. (FD004)
The front sight of the pepperbox is a small brass bead. (FD005)
Stock Configuration & Condition/ Grip: The stocks are two-piece wood featuring a forend secured by a screw and barrel band, a straight wrist, a straight comb and a metal butt-plate with a slot for the tubular magazine. There is a sling-bar on the left side of the wrist with a fixed saddle ring. There is a sling-swivel fixed to the belly. The stocks have light-moderate handling marks, compressions, nicks and scuffs. Notably, the left side of the forend has a small chip that extends from the action about halfway to the barrel band, there are some light nicks behind the barrel band, there is a small nick on the upper right portion of the forend by the rear sight, there is a patch of moderate wear between the bottom tang and sling bar, there is a square shaped patch of light discoloration on the right side of the butt and the toe is a light chip. The LOP is 13” from the trigger to the rear end of the butt-plate. The butt-plate is coated in light handling marks and coated in moderate surface oxidation. Overall, the stocks are in Good condition for Antiques. (FD003)
The grip is one-piece wood. The grip has a few light handling marks and nicks. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grip is in Fine condition for an Antique. (FD004)
The grip panels are two piece wood. The grips have some light handling marks, nicks and scuffs. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grip panels are in Very Good condition for Antiques. (FD005)
Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color (FD2005), Blued (FD004), Silver and Blue (FD005)
Finish Originality: Original on all items
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with sharp rifling. There is scattered light erosion concentrated in the grooves. (FD003)
The bore is mostly-bright with sharp rifling. There is only some light erosion concentrated in the grooves. (FD004)
The four bores are dark with poorly defined rifling. There is moderate-heavy erosion scattered in the bores. (FD005)
Overall Condition: The carbine retains about 10% of its metal finish. The remaining blue finish is concentrated on the barrel, concealed under the forend. The metal parts of the carbine are coated in light-moderate surface oxidation and have taken a patina color. There are scattered light handling marks, nicks and scuffs. The markings are slightly obscured by oxidation but remain clear. The screw-heads have tool-marks but they remain serviceable. Overall, the carbine is in Good condition for an Antique. (FD003)
The revolver retains about 5% of ist metal finish. There are a few trace spots of bluing still visible on the right and left sides of the frame. Otherwise, the rest of the gun is coated in light surface oxidation and has taken a patina color. There are some light handling marks, nicks and scuffs on the gun’s metal surfaces. Notably, there is some light wear around the muzzle, the front and back-straps are largely in the white and there is light wear along the gun’s leading edges. The markings remain clear. The screwheads are tooled but they remain serviceable. Overall, the revolver is in Very Good condition for an Antique. (FD004)
The pepperbox retains about 5% of its metal finish. The majority of the silver finish has worn off exposing the brass frame which is now tarnished. The blued barrels finish has largely worn off, but there is surviving bluing in the recesses. The barrels are coated in light surface oxidation and have taken a patina color. The gun has scattered light-moderate handling marks, nicks and scuffs. Notably, the mainspring is loose and when the grips are detached it falls out. The markings are faded. The screwheads are tooled but they remain serviceable. Overall, the pistol is in Fair condition due to mechanical issues.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this carbine. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards. (FD003)
The action functions correctly. The cylinder locks with barely palpable play on each chamber. The gun’s cylinder can be removed by unscrewing a knob at the rear end of the frame and tipping the barrel assembly forward. This is one of the first double-action handguns ever developed and it is not simple to use. What appears to be the pistol’s “trigger” is actually a lever that controls the hammer with the sear situated at the back of the trigger guard. The double action involves pulling the “trigger” back until it strikes the sear. The rear end of the “trigger” has a notch that can be slid down, when this is done it will prevent the double-action from engaging when the “trigger” is engaged. Thus you can operate this handgun as a single action revolver as well by using the sear as a single action trigger after you have cocked the hammer. To return the revolver to its double action setting simply slide the notch up. Please be aware, the sear is sensitive and can be manually engaged easily thus extra caution should be taken to avoid an accidental discharge. We have not fired this revolver. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be required to meet your maintenance standards. (FD004)
The gun’s mainspring is no longer properly secured and only the top right bore can chamber a cartridge due to wear on the chambers. We have not fired this pistol. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be required to meet your maintenance standards. (FD005)
Box Paperwork and Accessories: There is a Model 1840 Light Artillery Saber and its scabbard included in the bundle. The saber is marked “US / CGS / 1861” on the left side and “AMES MFG. Co. / CHICOPEE / MASS” inside a scroll. The scabbard has two attached rings mounted on metal bands. The scabbard and saber are coated in light to moderate surface oxidation and have some scattered light handling and storage wear. Overall, the saber is in Very Good condition for an Antique. Also included is a wooden display case with green felt lining. The case comes with two wooden blocks and some spare parts. The case has some light handling marks, including a few holes drilled into the bottom of it, but it remains in Very Good condition.
Our Assessment: The Spencer Carbine was created by Christopher Miner Spencer in 1860. Spencer was a Northerner, and when the Civil War broke out a year later he was eager to offer his novel weapon system to the United States military. The Army initially rejected the design for fear that the constant need to provide ammunition for repeating rifles would place an insurmountable burden on its already strained logistics system. While limited numbers were purchased in 1862 and early 1863, the weapon system remained sidelined.
At the massive clash at Gettysburg, where US forces decisively defeated a massive Confederate invasion into the North, Spencer Repeaters played a decisive role. During the battle, General George Armstrong Custer’s 5th Michigan Cavalry Brigade, had utilized the advanced Spencers to defeat an attack led by General J.E.B. Stuart who outnumbered his force by a margin of 3-1. The rapid fire capability of the repeaters proved more than a match for the large Confederate force which was forced to retreat. Despite this stunning success, President Abraham Lincoln was reluctant to invest in the Spencer manufactured repeaters, he had a personal experience with them that led him to believe they were unreliable. To remedy this misconception, Spencer himself secured an audience with President Lincoln to prove the worth of his invention.
On August 18th, 1863, just a month after Custer had proven the effectiveness of his invention, Spencer secured a meeting with the President. The following day the President fired a Spencer (it is unclear what exact model it was), and was impressed with the effectiveness of the arm. Unsurprisingly, the government began to place larger orders for the Spencer Repeaters, with the Carbine variant making up the bulk of the units offered to the US military. The weapon system proved its worth on the battlefield, it was reliable and highly effective. Although Confederate forces did capture some Spencers, the Confederacy lacked the manufacturing capabilities to reverse engineer it and it saw only limited use among Southern forces. Interestingly, John Wilkes Booth had Spencer Carbine with him as he made his final stand after having assassinated President Lincoln. Following the end of the conflict, Spencer Repeating Rifle Co. went under for it had become over reliant on government contracts to remain solvent. John M. Spencer passed away in 1922 at the age of 89 having left a massive impact on the world.
This Spencer Carbine is serial number 36108 and was manufactured between 1863-1865, it is chambered for .56-56 Spencer rimfire cartridges. It appears to be in its original configuration. There are no visible cartouches on the stocks, it is unclear if they wore off or this was a privately acquired specimen. This gun remains a nicely preserved Civil War weapon system which remains mechanically sound. This is one Civil War-era collectible you do not want to miss out on! (FD003)
The Starr Revolver was the brainchild of Ebenezer Townsend Starr (1816-1899), a man who came from a family of arms makers. Starr joined the Navy when he was 17 and served from 1834-1837. Following his brief service in the Navy, Starr was injured in a railroad accident which he never fully recovered from. Eventually Starr began to develop weapons and established “Starr Arms Co” of New York in the late 1850s. In 1861, following the outbreak of the Civil War, Starr was offered a commision in the Navy but he was unable to accept the position due to lingering complications from his accident. Despite this, he would prove a great service to the Union, providing the Federal Government with tens of thousands of both single and double action revolvers. Starr’s company provided the Union with its third largest order of revolvers with over 47,000 manufactured, his company was only surpassed by Colt and Remington. This particular specimen is a Model 1858 Army Revolver, an early double-action design. As one of the first double-action handguns to be developed, the action is a bit difficult to master and Union troops were definitely frustrated by this. Thus, Starr developed his Model 1863 which was a single-action revolver that proved more simple to use than the M1858. Starr’s company had come to rely on military contracts and the end of the Civil War did not bode well for his company. Unsurprisingly, Starr Arms Co. went under two years later in 1867. Although his company had failed, Starr remained an active inventor for most of his remaining years, he ultimately passed away in 1899 at the age of 83.
The revolver does not have any cartouches on the grip and lacks any inspector’s markings, indicating that the gun was privately purchased and not a military issued firearm. The gun’s parts are all serial matched, although there is a second number code on the cylinder. The gun still has a very nice bore and well preserved nipples on the cylinder. The action engages without any issue. This is an impressive relic from the Civil War era. (FD004)
Christian Sharps was a weapons designer who was born in 1810. He worked at Harpers Ferry early in his career and was impressed by John H. Hall’s breech-loaded rifle (the first American breech-loader which was originally built with a flint-lock system) which would inspire Sharps to develop his own breech-loader. His breech-loaded design was patented in 1848 and the first units entered production in 1850. The following year Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company was formed, Christian Sharps served as a technical advisor to his namesake business receiving a royalty on every unit that was sold. Despite being named after him, Sharps left his namesake company in 1853 and formed a new company C. Sharps & Co. where he remained until the Civil War broke out. In 1862, as a consequence of the Civil War, Sharps partnered with William Hankins to form Sharps & Hankins with most of the company’s production dedicated to military contracts. After the war Sharps continued to work until 1874 when he succumbed to illness.
Despite having worked on the famous rifle, Sharps also designed a pepperbox style handgun which was on the market from approximately 1859-1874. Sharps continued to develop pepperbox handguns until his death. The Sharps pepperboxes are generally divided into four broad model categories with a number of sub-variations. This particular specimen appears to be the Model 1A, it was the first of his pepperbox designs and one of the most commonly seen today. The gun will need some work before it can be fired, but it remains a nice collectible that should prove a worthy addition to any historical firearms collection. Good luck on your bid! (FD005)