SOLD FOR: $2535
Make: Sharps Rifle Mfg. Co
Model: New Model 1863
Serial Number: 39305
Year of Manufacture: 1860s, Antique
Action Type: Single Shot Lever Operated Falling Block Rifle
Markings: The left side of the frame is marked “SHARP’S PAT / SEPT. 12TH 1848.” The top tang is marked “39305”. The right side of the frame is marked “R.S. LAWRENCE PAT. / APRIL 12TH 1859” and “C. SHARPS’ PAT. / OCT. 5TH 1852”. The rear sight is marked “R.S. LAWRENCE / PATENTED / FEB. 15TH 1869”. The top of the barrel, behind the rear sight, has very faint markings, appears to be “NEW MODEL” and ahead of the rear sight has a faded stamp (it appears to say “SHARP’S RIFLE / MANUFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CONN.”; please see photos).
Barrel Length: 30”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a fixed blade attached to the barrel, the rear sight is a two position “V” notch flip up ladder sight.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The two piece smooth wood stock has a straight grip, straight grip, a compartment built into the buttstock, two sling swivels, and curved metal buttplate. The wood shows moderate handling and storage marks. There are scrapes, scratches, scuffs and compression marks throughout. The LOP measures 13 ¾” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. This stock rates in about Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is dark and the rifling is worn. There is heavy erosion and pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion and for the age, this bore rates a 2 out of 10.
Most antique firearms have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the use of black powder. When fired, black powder reacts corrosively. NRA Antique Firearm Conditions Standards are quite lenient for bores. In some cases the NRA standards disregarded the bore’s condition for collectors firearms.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains less than 25% of its metal finish, there is some remaining finish in protected areas, most of the remaining finish has a brown patina. There are a few components on the receiver that are case hardened. The balance of the finish shows moderate to heavy wear from handling and storage. There are scratches, nicks and scuffs throughout. There is scattered erosion and pitting throughout, more notably on the receiver. The screw heads are sharp, most show light to moderate wear. The markings range from semi clear to faded. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good condition, for an antique.
Mechanics: The action functions Correctly. We did not fire this firearm. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: 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.
The Sharps rifle would be put to use in Kansas during the 1850s when a series of violent clashes erupted between abolitionists and pro-slavery settlers. The rifle was popular with the abolitionists and nicknamed the “Beecher’s Bible” after prominent abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher. When the Civil War broke out the Sharps Rifle was sold to the Federal Government and issued to a number of Army and Navy units. It was particularly popular with marksmen, who put it to good use.
This Sharps Rifle is a New Model 1863 which was made sometime in the 1860s. The New Model 1863 production extends from serial number C30,000-C40,000 (this gun is serial number C39305). The gun has wear consistent with a 19th century weapons system but mechanically it still remains sound. This is a beautiful gun that should prove a worthy addition to any collection. Please see our photos, good luck and happy bidding!