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Selling: December 6, 2015

Lot 3172: Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company - 1853-Carbine

Sold for Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company  - 1853-Carbine
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Extremely Rare, Historically Significant, and Documented Sharps Model 1853 John Brown Raid Carbine with Inscription
Estimated Price: $18,000 - $25,000
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Serial #Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company  - 1853-Carbine ManufacturerSharps Rifle Manufacturing Company Model1853-Carbine
TypeCarbine Gauge54 Catalog Page68
Barrel21 1/2 Inch Round FinishBlue Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis outstanding historic rarity is one of the carbines captured from John Brown during his ill fated raid on Harper's Ferry Arsenal and is one of the few that were marked by the men who captured them. In addition to the standard Sharps markings on the barrel, frame and lock plate,"Chass. E. Cornelius/Philada" is engraved on the patch box. The carbine is pictured and described in Frank Sellers' Sharps Firearms on page 95: "The inscription on the patch box, 'Chas. E. Cornelius,' is one of several names found inscribed on these carbines and is probably the name of the person who captured the gun in the raid of Harpers Ferry. At least 4 other specimens with similar professionally engraved names are known." The serial number in the book is clearly an error given all of the identifying marks are identical and even the screws are in the exact same positions. According to Sellers this carbine, listed by its serial number, was part of a cache of arms that was delivered to the Kennedy farm in Maryland near Harpers Ferry where Brown assembled his raiders. Of the 200 Sharp carbines belonging to Brown, the U.S. government only retrieved 102. Although federal authorities only provided a serial number range (15,000-16,000) of the capture carbines, Sharps factory records identified half of the guns including this carbine. See page 97 of Seller's book. Cornelius was a younger son of Robert Cornelius, a prominent manufacturer in south Philadelphia. Like many younger sons of wealthy families, he joined the military but never found any prominence. On October 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown led a small raid against the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an ill conceived attempt to start an armed slave revolt. Although the raiders overran the arsenal, Brown and his men capitulated to a company of U.S. Marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart on the morning of October 19. The U.S. Marines killed ten of Brown's men, including two of Brown's sons. Found guilty of murder and treason, Brown was executed for his crimes on December 2, 1859. The insurrection was crushed but had lasting affects in the 1860 presidential election.

ConditionVery fine with considerable blue at the rear of the barrel and a smooth gray patina elsewhere. The barrel band is a replacement and the sling ring bar is missing. The wood is very fine with little in the way of handling marks. Mechanically tight.
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