SHARPS MODEL 1855 BRITISH CONTRACT CARBINE WITH RACK NUMBERS

$4,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-2664

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Sharps Model 1855 arms are scarce. Just under 1,000 went to the American market: 600 US Army carbines (on two contracts of 400 and 200 guns each,) about 350 Navy rifles and carbines, and a dozen or civilian rifles and carbines. A much larger number were for the British who were seeking arms for the Crimean War: 12 rifles made on speculation for a contract and 6,000 carbines, in two different configurations. Despite the larger numbers, however, even these are tough to find since most were used up abroad. This is one of the 3,000 carbines made with an 18-inch barrel in .551 caliber and, like the other arms of the Sharps 1855 series, uses the new Maynard tape priming system: a clever bit of engineering intended to do away with percussion caps by feeding out over the nipple a waterproof paper strip containing dots of primer.

All the metal is smooth, with very good finish showing as a deep blue on the barrel, hammer and hammer screw, and shading to brown on the receiver. The brass patch box and buttplate have an undisturbed, mellow patina. The oil-finished black walnut forestock and buttstock have very good color and finish with some small handling marks and dings, and a good fit to the metal. The only fault is a chip on the forward left side of the receiver tang and a tight hairline at the left rear of the tang.

The markings are very good. British proofs appear on the left breech and just in front of the receiver is a [Crown]/A/1, which seems to be an English inspector working in America. As is correct for carbines with the latter marking, there is no barrel address. The rear sight is the one specified for the contract: a fixed 100 yard sight and four folding leaves graduated to 600 yards. The barrel band is, correctly, iron. The Maynard patent markings are very crisp on the priming mechanism door: EDWARD MAYNARD / PATENTEE 1845. The tang shows the correct SHARPS / PATENT / 1848 markings near the breech with just some light small pitting, and a small [Crown]/2 inspection stamp toward the butt. There is no serial number on the tang, but Marcot, et al., illustrate carbine #20603, which seems to have been the prototype for the British order, which is numbered only under the barrel, as is #20854. The side bar and sling ring are in place on the left side of the receiver and wrist.

The buttplate tang is marked “6D / 97.” Marcot records another carbine marked “6D / 232,” the high number of which indicates the guns were numbered within the regiment and not by troop, so the “6 D” might be a regimental designation such as the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, but we suppose other units are possible. The forend of the carbine shows a bit of personalization in the use of an endcap with a pronounced, curled and knurled forward rim. This could have been something added in the civilian market or by an officer or member of a yeomanry unit.

This is a very scarce pattern of Sharps that would likely fill an empty spot in most Sharps collections. [sr] [ph:L]

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