Premier Firearms Auction
May 12, 13, 14, & 15, 2023
Exquisite Berdan Sharps, Wiley Sword Collection
Bbl. 30″. Among the most iconic of Civil War Union firearms is the Sharps rifle with Hiram Berdan modifications for his elite Sharpshooter units which accounted for the highest kill rate of any regiment in Army of the Potomac.
47″ Overall, iron mounted, blued barrel, case hardened frame & breech. Berdan who formed the 1st & 2nd US Sharp Shooters Regiments ordered 2000 rifles early in 1862. His Model 1859 sharps rifles were made with special double set triggers, improved breech lever without catch, long range rear sights with German silver blade mounted front sights which doubled as bayonet lugs. All were only inspected by John Taylor a civilian employee of the Springfield Armory.
This rifle has fine “JT” final inspection cartouche. John Taylor’s sub-inspection “T” also found on barrel breech. Wiley Sword wrote the quintessential 1988 text: “Sharpshooter: Hiram Berdan, his famous Sharpshooters and their Sharps Rifles”. This is the featured rifle in book illustrated and shown as among surviving examples. This rifle not only has every characteristic and marking, it also has the most beautiful burled stock which is rarely seen on a military gun.
Frank sellers in his 1988 text “Sharps firearms” opined only 500 double set Berdan Sharps were made and that the other 1500 guns that filled contract were in different configuration such as single trigger.
Roy Marcot in his 2008 text “US Sharpshooters, Berdan’s Civil War Elite” states that 43 documented Berdan Sharps survive, but none better than this one or better provenanced.
PROVENANCE: Ex-Wiley Sword Collection