Approximately 3,000 Model 1859 and New Model 1859 carbines fitted with brass furniture were manufactured, with this example being a rare Model 1859 prior to the more well known New Model variations. These were the first of the straight breech models, and would have been issued to both cavalry and infantry units. This early brass mounted Model 1859 carbine is highlighted in the recent and wonderful article "New Insights into the Sharps Model 1859 Carbine" by Paul D. Johnson, on pages 14-19 and 47-48 in "Man at Arms" June of 2021 issue, in which it is pictured along with its early breech block in detail next to an improved breech block, out of another early brass mounted carbine with serial number 31433 and only a couple hundred serial numbers after this carbine bearing serial number 31202, illustrating the differences in design and markings of the two. The early Model 1859 breech block in this example is distinguished by only having one side rail as opposed to two side rails on the subsequent improved breech block which would become the standard shape seen in the New Model 1859s (page 17, figure 9). The other Model 1859 carbine, serial number 31433 with its double rail breech block, in the article is believed to be a sample piece for the New Model 1859. The breech block out of this example has friction ridges along the outer edges of the rear side (page 16, figure 7), a slight improvement on another early Model 1859 breech block pictured in the article out of a carbine with serial number 31562 (page 15, figures 2 and 3). Page 48 of the article states, "Extant examples have shown that there were two types of breechblocks found in Model 1859 Sharps carbines: Type 1 was the flat back and Type 2 had the two friction ridges on the back." The article further states, "...the estimated serial number range of the Model 1859 is 30000 to 32000. This would indicate that an estimated 2,000 M1859 carbines were produced." The barrel has a blade front sight, the three-line Hartford address ahead of the Lawrence patent rear sight, and is correctly unmarked on top of the breech as opposed to the "New Model 1859" marked barrels seen on later examples. Standard markings "C. SHARPS' PAT./SEPT. 12th 1848", "C. SHARPS' PAT./OCT 5th 1852." and "R.S. LAWRENCE' PAT./APRIL 12th 1859" on the frame and lock. Matching serial number "31202" marked on top of the frame and underneath the barrel. "J.W.S" sub-inspector initials marked on the rear of the breech block. "224/I" marked on the underside of the patchbox lid. Due to these early Model 1859 carbines being manufactured prior to the beginning of the Civil War and quickly pressed into service at the beginning of the war, surviving Model 1859 carbines (non New Models) in any condition today are rare. Provenance: The David Aroh Collection; The Ron Bucholtz Collection
Exceptionally fine, retains 95% plus original blue finish with very faint muzzle wear and some patches of brown surface corrosion concentrated on bottom towards the middle of the barrel, 80% plus vivid original case colors with some light surface corrosion on the left of the frame and some scattered light freckling, and 50% plus original nitre blue finish strongest on the primer cover and breech block. The brass hardware is excellent with an even pleasing golden aged patina. The wood is also excellent with exceptionally defined edges, minimal handling marks, attractive original raised and feathered grains, and rich original oil finish. Mechanically excellent. This is the finest surviving example of a first type "single rail" Sharps Model 1859 brass mounted carbine Rock Island Auction Company has ever offered, and would make an excellent addition to any U.S. Martial or Civil War firearms collection!
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