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Thread: Sharps Model 1859/63 What is this?

  1. #1

    Sharps Model 1859/63 What is this?

    [/B]New to this thread and glad to be here. I have a question regarding an original Sharps 3 band infantry rifle I just picked up. This piece is a minty example with some interesting variation.. as follows:

    1. Percussion receiver is serial numbered 59xxx putting it in the Model 1859 range
    2. Barrel is minty but unmarked insofar as any stamping on the top such as "Model 18__" and no inspectors initials.
    3. Stock has the 3 inspection cartouches just opposite the lock and also a scroll inspectors cartouche on the butt stock that I understand is a post war cartouche??

    Anyone ever seen this?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Flayderman's lists the New Model 1859 in serial number range of 54,374-57,567. But mentions some have been observed much lower than Marcot's estimated lowest serial number. The regular 1859 had the same 3 bands as the New Model, and both had bayonet lugs, but the New Model had a longer forearm wood. The Navy models had a saber bayonet lug, while Army models had a socket type bayonet attaching lug. Barrel length on both should be 30", but the rare New Model has a 36" barrel. These models were all referred to as "straight breech" vs. the slant breech used on other models.
    Inspectors initials may not be present if the gun is well worn, so not sure of the gun's condition to determine if it ever had markings.

  3. #3
    I had several research threads going out at the same time and got an answer that is interesting.. Seems that in 1871 the US government held a series of arms trials that led to the adoption of the Springfield Model 1873 "trapdoor" rifle. For these trials, the US Government purchased from Sharps, 2500 sets of receivers with locks to make up 2500 rifles in percussion. Springfield made the stocks, barrels and extra furniture for the guns etc.. Guns were manufactured at Springfield Arsenal. My big question is why do an arms trial with a percussion arm in 1871??

  4. #4
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    No way to ever figure out why the US Government did what they did. Why they would do an expensive trial for percussion when cartridge guns existed, or why they would do a cartridge gun trial and chose a single shot when repeaters existed? The reasons I've often heard were cost related, and the government trying to keep costs down by not having to buy loaded cartridges and keep rate of fire lower so men wouldn't waste ammo. But that today seems ridiculous, as it meant loss of life during conflicts, and especially so if the other side was better armed. This thinking didn't change as long as we were fighting a Civil War, or an Indian War. Once we got involved in wars outside our borders, the military changed the way they looked at military arms, and had to evolve into arms equal to, or better than other countries. The Spanish-American War taught the US a lesson in restricting arms technology.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannonman1 View Post
    My big question is why do an arms trial with a percussion arm in 1871??
    Take a look over in the Black Powder Cartridge sub-forum at my "DIY Insanity / Chassepot" thread. The French adopted a paper cartridge weapon in 1866 - right when you would think the American Civil War had show the world that the self-contained metal cartridge was the future.

    Also pick up a copy of a book titled Misfire by a fellow named Hallihan. That will tell you all you need to know about how U.S. Ordnance has regularly laced their cannabis with opium and chugged the bong water since the time of George Washington's administration.
    WWJMBD?

    Buried in molds until covered with mold.

  6. #6
    Update.. I misunderstood the letter I received.. The 2500 rifles were conversions to 50/70.. The example I have is also marked on the top of the barrel "Sharps Rifle Co. Bridgeport Conn." and is .52 cal. Is this a Model 1859 with a stock butt stock replacement? When did the Bridgeport address appear on Sharps military guns?

  7. #7
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Maybe you can post an image of your gun and it might help figure out what you have?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by marlinman93 View Post
    Maybe you can post an image of your gun and it might help figure out what you have?
    Here are some images i have on file.. Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Cannonman1; 11-01-2017 at 08:45 AM.

  10. #10
    Sharps started producing rifles at Bridgeport in 1876 it appears. Not sure if the Bridgeport barrel was installed on a Model 1859 receiver at that point and if so why would Sharps be assembling a percussion rifle in 1876 when cartridge arms were common and readily available. What would have been the demand with so many surplus arms available for cheap?
    The model 1863 carbine that was being converted in the late 60's had no patchbox but this gun does. Butt stock must have been made for an 1863 infantry rifle and if so assembled for some purpose.. just not sure what that purpose was??

  11. #11
    Boolit Man
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    Various old writers say you could assemble a new Sharps from spares supplied by Bannermans,in the 1930s and 40s.W.Stones Kirk also,recently saw an add from WSK in a 1924 truck mag advertising shotguns "reamed from brand new US arsenal guns".Should have saved it,but was researching 2 speed axles,and you cant afford to get off the track.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    Various old writers say you could assemble a new Sharps from spares supplied by Bannermans,in the 1930s and 40s.

    And you could also buy guns assembled by Bannerman's from the large inventory of parts they owned. I've seen some extremely fine examples of various guns Bannerman's built up. Some of them with factory stocks, and later with custom stocks that made gorgeous rifles!

  13. #13
    Boolit Man
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    I have never seen case colors survive 150 years with the brilliance and color of that gun.On new parts I have the case has gone to brown ,tinge of blue,or grey.The grease on the few bits I have has apparently erased the colors.Yes ,thats one in a million.

  14. #14
    Getting feedback from a variety of sources, it looks likely this is a gun assembled from parts after the war. The reciever has 2 imperfections (external) that do not affect function but the government would have classified them as 2nd Class arms and parts and these parts would have been likely those purchased by companies like Bannerman in the post war auctions. It is, however a very nice example and although never saw the war in the form it is in at present, is a wonderful example of what these weapons looked like when issued. I thank all those who have contributed !!!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I have never seen case colors survive 150 years with the brilliance and color of that gun.On new parts I have the case has gone to brown ,tinge of blue,or grey.The grease on the few bits I have has apparently erased the colors.Yes ,thats one in a million.
    Indeed case colors that vibrant are rare, but certainly not impossible. I always wonder how a gun survives over a century with colors so nice, but I've seen it before and close examination showed they weren't re-done. I wouldn't care at all if this Sharps was assembled from parts sometime. It's a beautiful gun, and one worth having in any single shot collection!

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