6/8/2022 – Frontier Firearms from the Lifetime Collection of Larry Ness

Arms, Armor & Militaria | Lot 171

  • June 8, 2022
  • 10:06 AM EDT
  • Cincinnati


Extremely Rare Sharps Model 1855 Sporting Rifle – 1 of 3 Known to Exist

60-Bore (.427 caliber). 26″ octagonal barrel. SN: 20824. Blued and color casehardened finish, brass furniture, smooth, straight-gripped varnished walnut stock. Matching serial numbers on receiver tang, under barrel and in forend. Lock with no visible markings. Maynard tape primer door marked “EDWARD MAYNARD/PATENTEE 1845″. Tang marked “C SHARPS/PATENT/1848″ and with the serial number. Barrel marked “SHARPS RIFLE/MANUFG CO/HARTFORD, CONN”. The Model 1855 was the first series of Sharps arms equipped with the Maynard patent tape priming system, as is this one. This one appears to be complete and fully functional. The system was rather quickly abandoned by Sharps as the company returned to the Lawrence pellet priming system for future percussion arms. Rifle is equipped with a plain single trigger, standard folding leaf rear sight and a dovetailed brass front sight blade in a steel base that may be an old replacement. Standard brass buttplate and patchbox which is numbered “152” on the interior, forend tip is the typical pewter. Sharps factory records are fragmentary at best for this period and in his book on Sharps firearms Frank Sellers noted that only 12 Model 1855 Sporting Rifles were produced. More recent scholarship has suggested that this information may be in error as there was no source documented to support the claim. Surviving examples of the Model 1855 Sporting Rifle are, however, extremely rare. Seller’s notes in his book that only one Model 1855 Sporting Rifle was known to survive and this gun was sold as the only surviving example in May of 2011. Since then, more scholarly research recently published in Sharps Firearms – The Percussion Era 1848-1865 by Marcot, Paxton & Maron indicates that there are 3 known examples of these rare rifles, #20824, #20844 and #20962. All are plain configuration sporting rifles with the only difference being that #20962 includes the rarely observed Rollin White device in the priming system. This is one of the rarest of Sharps long arms and presents a wonderful opportunity for an advanced Sharps collector to fill a hole in their collection with a gun that is practically unobtainable.

  • Price Realized
  • $18,000


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