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Selling: November 30, 2012

Lot 1066: Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company - 1874-Rifle

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Extremely Rare Sharps Ultra Heavy Barrel (Heaviest Known) Special Order Model 1874 Bench Rest Target Rifle with Factory Letter
Estimated Price: $32,500 - $45,000
Serial #Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company  - 1874-Rifle ManufacturerSharps Rifle Manufacturing Company Model1874-Rifle
TypeRifle Gauge40-65 Catalog Page35
Barrel34 Inch Round FinishBlue/casehardened Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis extremely rare Sharps 1874 bench rest target rifle has a massive 20 pound ultra heavy barrel which measures 1 5/8" at the muzzle and callipered 40 2 1/2 shell ( 40-65 ). Total weight of the rifle is 25 pounds. According to noted Sharps expert and author Frank Sellers, the Model 1874 Sporting Rifle with a 34 inch, 45 caliber barrel was the heaviest rifle Sharps manufactured. (see Sellers' book SHARPS FIREARMS, page 224). The top of the barrel is marked "Old Reliable" without the boxed border and "SHARPS RIFLE CO BRIDGEPORT, CONN." and the left rear is marked "CAL 40 2 1/2". The underside under the forearm is marked with the serial number "162440". The barrel is equipped with a special front globe sight with no provisions for a rear sight. The rifle also has a Sharps mid-range vernier tang sight with a 4 inch sighting bar. The left side of the receiver is marked "SHARPS RIFLE CO/PAT APR 6 1869" and the top just ahead of the tang is marked with the matching serial number. The receiver and hammer are casehardened and the trigger and hammer spur are checkered. Nicely figured American walnut with a checkered semi-Schnabel forearm and pistol grip stock with a steel checkered Sharps buttplate and a smooth Gutta Percha inlay on the left wrist. Included with the rifle is a Sharps factory letter dated January 9, 2008 stating that the original records show this rifle listed in Order Book No. 7 as a Model 1874 Sporting Rifle and that it was invoiced at the Bridgeport factory on May 1, 1879 to N.B. Tyler of Warren, Ohio. N.B. Tyler was a bench rest match shooter. His letterhead describes himself as a dealer in "fine English and American guns" and other sporting goods. Tyler has an extensive correspondence with the Sharps Company and submitted targets that he made for them. The letter further states that "This rifle, however is anything but a Sporting Rifle; in fact it was an Ultra-heavy bench rest target rifle." The description of the rifle in the record as taken from Tyler's ordering letter of February 21, 1879, is as follows: caliber . 40- 65 2 & 1/2 inch shell, 34 inch round barrel to weigh 20 pounds, mid-range sights without spirit lever; no hunting sights, pistol grip stock with plain oil finish, 3 pound trigger pull (style not specified), buttstock 1 inch longer and 1&1/2 inch more drop than usual and cross bar 5 inches from the muzzle to keep gun level and always in the same position. The cross bar mentioned is not on the barrel and appears to have never been installed on this rifle. The price charged for the rifle is not listed in the letter, however one can imagine that it came at a substantial premium. Sharps made several bench rifles on the 1874 action. The length of pull is 14 inches with a drop at the heel of 2 1/2 inches.

ConditionExcellent. The barrel retains 97% of the original blue finish with wear limited to a small area on the top in front of the marking. The receiver retains approximately 60% of the original faded case colors. The balance of the receiver, the lever and buttplate have a smooth gray patina. The wood is excellent with a pleasant hand rubbed finish on the forearm, overall scattered minor dings and scratches, a small chip on the grip and crisp checkering with most of the factory finish remaining on the buttstock. There was apparently a sling swivel on the buttstock which has been removed. The bore is very good. Mechanically sound. An extremely rare, special order ultra heavy barrel Sharps bench rest target rifle in exceptional condition.
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