SCARCE USN MITCHELL 1861 CONTRACT NEW MODEL 1859 SHARPS RIFLE

$3,250.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 2021-392

This scarce Sharps U.S. Navy Mitchell contract New Model 1859 rifle is in good condition. The Navy had supplemented its 200 Model 1855 Sharps rifles by ordering 900 .56 caliber NM1859 rifles in September 1859 and took delivery from November 1860 through April 1861. On June 4, 1861, they ordered an additional 1,500 rifles through John J. Mitchell, a Sharps sales agent in Washington. One hundred-fifty 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. These rifles were in the more standard .52 caliber, which was a bit of a headache for navy supply, and lacked their saber bayonets, which the Navy had to acquire directly from Ames, but were delivered very quickly. The bulk of them were in Navy hands by the end of July (New York had all 500 by August 7) and they are known to have been wide service, being issued to the sloop Iroquois, the St. Lawrence in the Mississippi fleet, to the USS Pensacola, and also to the USS Kearsarge of Kearsarge/Alabama fame.

Serial numbers for these rifles fall between 39436 and 42500. This one is 40040 and follows the standard configuration with stud and guide for the saber bayonet, iron patch box, pellet primer etc. All bands, springs, swivels and sights are in place. The barrel is generally smooth brown metal with some crustiness around the nose cap, and a few dings at right rear, below the sight, possibly vise marks. The maker and patent markings are fully legible: SHARPS RIFLE / MANUFG. CO / HARTFORD, CONN. crisply stamped forward of the rear sight, and NEW MODEL 1859 to its rear, with Lawrence patent markings on the sight base. The receiver shows some light pitting with some roughness to the forward edge of the breechblock, pitting to the hammer and small dings on the right. The hammer screw shows turning and is a bit brighter, which may just be from handling. One screw on the left shows a rough slot from turning, as does the forward tang screw. The tang shows a break at this point with a crude weld repair. The inletting seems undisturbed, but the metal is pinched on the right of the screw hole. We have not taken the rifle apart, but it seems stable. The receiver is marked on the left, SHARPS PAT. / SEPT 12 1848 with the lettering a bit rubbed on the upper left. The right side is crisply stamped SHARPS PAT. / OCT 5th 1852 behind the hammer and S. LAWRENCE PAT. / APRIL 12th 1859 just above.

Both stocks have good surface and nice, matching warm brown color. The forestock has a good fit and edges along the barrel, with a few small dings on the left and one or two more on the right. There is a short, stable hairline on the upper left between the upper band and nose cap. The underside shows an old, longer repaired crack running from the receiver through the screw and a bit forward. The buttstock has a tight fit on the right and just a hairline shrinkage gap on the left. There are no cartouches at the wrist. (Those passing through the NY Navy Yard occasionally show an naval inspector’s mark on the butt stock.) There is a set of owner’s initials carved upside down just above and to the rear of the trigger: “F.E.H.” There is a small check on the top of the wrist just above these, otherwise the butt stock shows just average handling marks and some stains near the buttplate. The mechanics are good. The bore shows rifling and some pitting. It could use a good cleaning.

These are scarce guns. This one would fill out a Sharps collection or make a great addition to a display of naval small arms. See Marcot, Paxton and Marron on Sharps and McAulay on U.S. Navy small arms for details. [sr] [ph:L]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire.

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