Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1156: Civil War Berdan Sharpshooter Range Sharps Model 1859 Percussion

Auction Date: December 3, 2016

Civil War Berdan Sharpshooter Range Sharps Model 1859 Percussion Military Rifle with Double Set Triggers

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,000 - $15,000

Civil War Berdan Sharpshooter Range Sharps Model 1859 Percussion Military Rifle with Double Set Triggers

Manufacturer: Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company
Model: New Model 1859
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 52 percussion
Barrel: 30 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1602
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 122
Class: Antique

This Model 1859 Sharps rifle was manufactured in 1862 and is in the same configuration as the special ordered rifles produced for the 1st and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooter Regiments (Berdan's Sharpshooters) in 1862. The Ordnance Department's initial order was for standard Model 1859 rifles, but Colonel Hiram Berdan contacted the factory and requested a dull barrel finish and double set triggers. The factory assumed Berdan had permission for the changes and began producing rifles for the unit to his specifications, but once the Ordnance Department got word, they insisted that they would not pay for additional rifles in the altered configuration. The Sharpshooter rifles fall into the 35,000 to 57,000 range. Furthermore, the accepted serial number range for the approximately 500 Sharps Model 1859 rifles with double set triggers purchased to arm Berdan's Sharpshooters is 54390-55574, and this rifle falls in the range. It is correctly not fit with a lever latch. However, it has a pinned blade front sight instead of the angular bayonet stud sight base. The barrel and receiver have matching serial numbers. The top of the barrel is marked: "SHARPS RIFLE/MANUFG CO/HARTFORD CONN" ahead of the rear sight and "NEW MODEL 1859" behind it. The left side of the receiver has the Sharps 1848 patent date. The lock plate is marked with the Sharps 1852 patent date and the Lawrence 1859 patent date. The folding leaf rear sight is graduated to 800 yards and has the usual Lawrence markings on the base. The left barrel flat is stamped with the Ordnance inspector's initials "C.W.H." just ahead of the receiver. The left stock flat is stamped with three rectangular Ordnance inspection cartouches. The script initials appear to be "AWM", "EF", and "TWR". The sub-inspector's initials "N.S.P." are stamped on the forearm flat at the junction with the receiver, and the block initials "T.W.R." are stamped on the stock comb just ahead of the buttplate. The outside of the patch box is stamped with an "M" sub-inspector mark; the inside of the door is stamped with a single punch mark. The tang of the buttplate is stamped with an "R".

Rating Definition:

Very fine as arsenal refinished overall. There are traces of pitting visible beneath the finish on the barrel between the receiver and the rear sight. The barrel retains 98% of the dull blue finish. The casehardened components have more than 90% of the vivid case colors along with varnish/oil staining. The stock and forearm are very fine replacements. The buttstock has been revarnished. The multiple inspection cartouches are not consistent with the single inspector's stamp (usually "JT") found on Model 1859 double set trigger rifles identified as issued to Berdan's Sharpshooters. The rifle is a restored Berdan's Model 1859 rifle using a later manufactured stock, forearm, and other components. The rifle is a solid representative example of a Model 1859 Military rifle with the very desirable double set triggers.

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