Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1241: Sharps New Model 1869 Sporting Rifle

Auction Date: April 14, 2018

Incredibly Scarce Documented Sharps New Model 1869 Sporting Rifle, One of Fifty Reportedly Made, with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $11,000 - $16,000

Incredibly Scarce Documented Sharps New Model 1869 Sporting Rifle, One of Fifty Reportedly Made, with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company
Model: 1869-Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44-2 1/4 Inch Berdan
Barrel: 25 3/4 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 896
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 112
Class: Antique

Richard J. Labowskie notes that this rifle is "among the finest of the known examples of Model 1869 Sporting Rifles. . ." Only 50 of these New Model 1869 Sporting Rifles were manufactured in 1869-1872 according to Sharps firearms expert Frank Sellers in his book "Sharps Firearms." In addition to the small number of these rifles manufactured, there were variations in terms of barrel lengths, calibers, and other features making each of these rifles highly desirable. They bridge the gap between the earlier New Model percussion rifles and the popular Model 1874. The frames were still cut for the earlier percussion style hammer, but the distinctive thick lock plate has no provisions for a primer and is equipped with a cartridge hammer that does not strike as far forward as the percussion hammers. This one also has the "CL" serial number prefix which stands for 150,000 indicating this rifle would be 150,091. The factory letter lists it as an "Octagon Sporting Rifle" in .44 caliber using the 2 1/4 inch Berdan shell and as featuring a 26 inch octagon barrel, double set triggers, glob and peeps sights, and oil finished stock. It was originally invoiced to Copper, Harris & Hodgkins of New York City on September 3, 1869. The barrel is numbered to match and also has "3 343" on the bottom. "91" is also marked inside of the lock. A "7" is marked on the lower right of the lock. The barrel has a low profile blade front sight in a dovetailed base, "SHARPS RIFLE/MANUFG CO/HARTFORD CONN" ahead of the Lawrence patent rear sight, "CALIBRE 44/NEW MODEL 1869" behind the rear sight, and "RSL" in italics on the breech collar at the left. This is the same location earlier martial arms were marked by U.S. inspector at Sharps, Robert S. Lamotte, but Labowskie states in the letter that this is the mark of Richard S. Lawrence who was the patentee of the 1869 modifications and the superintendent of the Sharps factory. He suggests Lawrence "had a personal hand in the manufacture and assembly of this rifle." He stated it was once in his "possession as part of the Robert L. Moore, Jr. collection." The receiver has the standard Sharps patent marking on the left and is fitted with a folding tang peep sight and double set triggers. It has a smooth stock and forearm with a varnished finish, pewter forend cap, and standard rifle buttplate.

Rating Definition:

Very fine with 70% original blue finish on the barrel, 30% original case colors, gray and brown patina, and spots of slight pitting and oxidation. The very fine wood retains most of the original varnished finish with some flaking and minor dings and scratches. Mechanically excellent. The New Model 1869 Sporting Rifles are among the rarest of all Sharps firearms. Examples in high condition rarely become available, and this one is easily among the best and is sure to find a prominent place in an advanced collection.

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