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Rare Sharps Model 1849/First Model “Nippes” Breech-Loading Serial Number 25 Percussion Sporting Rifle - Serial no. 25, 32 Bore cal., 30 3/4 inch octagon bbl., brown/ casehardened/bright finish, walnut stock. This rifle is a rare example of a very early Sharps rifle: the Model 1849 Rifle (a.k.a. 1st Model Sharps). These rifles are covered in detail in pages 28-41 of “Sharps Firearms: The Percussion Era” by Marcot, Paxton, and Marron. Christian Sharps received the patent for his innovative breechloading design on September 12, 1848. He contracted with Albert S. Nippes of Mill Creek just to the northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just off the Schuylkill River to manufacture 100-200 rifles of his design on March 14, 1849. Nippes was but 24, but he came from a line of German-American gunsmiths, and his grandfather and father were U.S. military arms contractors. Under his father Daniel’s direction, the mill had produced around 5,100 Model 1840 muskets in 1842-1848, and the family previously manufactured earlier models. Under the contract with Sharps, Nippes provided the machining and tooling to manufacture the rifles while Sharps would sell them and split the profit. The barrels are identified as purchased from Edwin Wesson. By April 20 1849, Nippes had the first rifle manufactured. The only example shown in the book that is earlier than this rifle is number 2 which was a special early variation. The next closest is number 35. They note that only 16 were known to them when the book was published in 2019. The highest known serial number is 166, and no more than 175 are believed to have been manufactured before production shifted in late November 1849 to the similar Model 1850 which used the Maynard primer system. These two early models are much closer to the original Sharps patent than later models which were significantly modified to the “classic” Sharps pattern most of us think of and contain the majority of the approximately 160,000 Sharps rifles made between 1849 and 1881. Though production ended before 1850, they were advertised for sale in 1850 and were sold by M. Magee & Co., Wm. H. Horstmann &
Sons, John Krider, E.K. Tryon, E. Lewis, and Spang & Wallace in Philadelphia and also by Magee & Kneass in New Orleans, Baden & Bro. in Washington, D.C., J.H. Taylor in Charleston, and Burtis & Brother in St. Louis.

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