SCARCE MITCHELL 1861 CONTRACT US NAVY SHARPS RIFLE BAYONET

$695.00

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Item Code: 2021-391

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The U.S. Navy liked the Sharps M1859 rifle and ordered 900 of them in .56 caliber with saber bayonets in September 1859. These were delivered from November 1860 through April 1861. The Navy placed second a order on June 4, 1861, for an additional 1,500 rifles with John J. Mitchell, a Sharps sales agent in Washington. 150 were to be delivered to each of the navy facilities in Boston, New York and Philadelphia within six days and the remaining 350 to each by June 25. Mitchell took a little longer to complete delivery, but not much: the bulk were in Navy hands by the end of July. New York had all 500 by August 7.

Mitchell’s rifles posed two problems for the Navy: they were .52 caliber, which caused some supply headaches; and, they needed bayonets. Thus, the day after ordering the guns the Navy contracted with Ames, who had supplied bayonets for the September 1859 order, for an additional 1,500 saber bayonets. The first were delivered by the end of July, 1311 by the end of the year, and the last 189 early in 1862. These Mitchell contract bayonets differ from those supplied for the September 1859 contract rifles in having a 22-inch blade with unstopped fullers (instead of a 23 ¾ blade with ricasso) and are not serial numbered to the rifle. (They differ in several ways from Collins saber bayonets as well- mainly in length and curvature.)

This is a very good example of this scarce bayonet. The brass hilt has a medium patina with no dark stains and only minor handling marks. The locking spring and button are present and functional. As is correct, it is not numbered. The blade has an excellent edge and point and is smooth, bright metal with only some scattered thin gray patches and some darker gray spots near the guard. The Ames scroll maker stamp on the reverse is a little rubbed at top and left, but clearly reads Ames Mfg. Co. / Chicopee / Mass.  The obverse is dated 1862, indicating this was among the last 189 delivered in early 1862.

Mitchell contract Sharps USN rifles are known to have been aboard the sloop Iroquois, the St. Lawrence in the Mississippi fleet, on the Pensacola, and also on the USS Kearsarge. See Marcot, Paxton and Marron, and McAulay for details. This is a scarce Sharps bayonet for well-respected rifles that saw wide service. If you are a USN or Sharps collector, you will likely have to look for some time before finding another.  [sr] [ph:m]

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