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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Mystery Sharps Rifle (Read 3716 times)
Richard S
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Mystery Sharps Rifle
Sep 12th, 2017 at 7:29pm
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This is my first post to this forum.  I was advised by a number of people that this is a great forum and my questions might be better answered here than any where else.  Besides my questions about this Sharps, I own a couple of red pad Ruger #1's so I'm overdue anyway.

I won what I thought was a Shiloh Sharps rifle on an online auction. The description said "Shiloh Sharps Rifle 45-110 34" barrel beautiful condition"

The rifle showed up several days ago and here is what I found:

The left side of the receiver says "Sharps Rifle Co. Pat. April 6 1869

The top flat of the barrel has the "Old Reliable" logo and is stamped "Sharps Rifle Co. Bridgeport, Conn."

The top flat also has Cal. 45 and then in much smaller numbers 2 7/8

The upper tang of the receiver has the serial number 384xx and is stamped horizontally along the tang in between the 2 threaded holes for a tang sight.

The front sight is a globe AND the rear sight with elevator says Shiloh Sharps

I spoke with a lady at Shiloh and she said that it couldn't be one of theirs because that always stamp receivers and barrel with Shiloh Sharps. It's possible that someone added the rear Shiloh sight. She concluded that it could be an original. I haven't spoken to anyone from C. Sharps but have been able to confirm that their receivers say C.Sharps and not just Sharps.

The gun is in beautiful condition with great case hardening, great wood and a perfect barrel and bore.  I doubt that it's an original and thought it might have paid a visit to someone like Doug Turnbull but I'm told he uses a different process for case hardening.

I will submit the photos right after this message.

Any information you can give me would be very appreciated.

Thanks very much,
Richard

  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #1 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 7:30pm
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Here are the photos:

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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #2 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 7:31pm
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The photos are a bit big

You can scroll left or right at the bottom of the last photo.
  
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Deadeye Bly
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #3 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 9:05pm
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It looks like it has been reconditioned but I have no idea what they started with. Screw threads need to be checked to see if it is an Italian import reworked to look like an original. The pewter nose cap appears to have been poured in place on the stock.
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #4 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 9:23pm
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I'm not sure I understand about the screw threads.  Do the imports use a different thread diameter or pitch, or are they Metric vs SAE?
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #5 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 9:45pm
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I don't know what it is but the serial number is not correct for an original.
  
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Bill Lawrence
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #6 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 10:38pm
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Other observations: The case coloring pattern is not period Sharps; the end of the raw-looking lever pin seems too small in diameter and a little short to be Sharps; and the Sharps lever plunger pin spring screw has a domed head rather than a flat one.

In short, the rifle has at least been seriously "reconditioned".

Bill Lawrence
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #7 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 11:33pm
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It's definitely not a Shiloh or a C. Sharps.  I'd guess that it's a rebuilt original. 

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #8 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 1:43am
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Early spaghetti?


        Joe.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #9 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:51am
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If it is an Italian import it will have metric threads on the screws. That feature is a dead giveaway.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #10 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:56am
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I think Joe has it right. It looks like an Italian serial number and the rifle has been rebuilt from an original Italian. You can see that most of the screws have been turned and that's not typical of any Shiloh. The side plate looks like original Italian coloring where as the receiver looks like it's been bone charcoal hardened.  If you paid a lot of money for it and it was represented as a Shiloh, I'd ask to return it.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #11 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 11:03am
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screws on the Originals are 3/16 X 28.
I don't know know what size and pitch Shiloh or C sharps use most likely 10 X 28.
I got some repro screws that are 10 X 28 wouldnt fit my original sharps
the Italian one's are going to be Metric
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #12 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:35pm
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I"m not where I can check for Metric but I will.

As I said in the beginning, I purchased it as a Shiloh and it's pretty certain that it is not.

As Old Win suggests, I may be better off trying to return it.  The cost of the gun with shipping was just under $1500.  I thought that was a decent deal IF is was a Shiloh. 

I may also have the option of negotiating a lower price on it but if I go to sell it down the road, I'll inherit the same problem I have now as how to honestly describe it.

For whatever reason, I really like the gun though.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #13 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:56pm
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If you like it and are going to shoot it, are you going to find a significantly better deal?

It appears to be a rebarreled spaghetti Sharps.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #14 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:02pm
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At least no-one has had to fake Ruger singleshots------YET!!!
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #15 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:07pm
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Look under the forearm for any proof marks or makers stamp.  If there are - it's Italian
  

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John
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #16 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:26pm
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They'd be hard pressed to do it unless they possessed an investment casting plant as good as Pine Tree.

I read "Ruger and His Guns" from cover to cover.  I was so blown away by his savy that I ran off and bought another Ruger.

I have a  #1V in 7mm Mag with a 15 power Unertl Ultra Varmint on it that prints sub MOA groups with a good handload.
Get's some smiles at the range too Smiley
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #17 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:33pm
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Hi John Boy,

I pulled the forearm and the barrel is clean of any marks.  I pulled the butt plate and there were some stamped numbers and what looks like a small crown.  I haven't disassembled it any further but I do plan to see if the screws are Metric.

To  Schuetzenmiester, I'm leaning toward keeping it for the same reasons you stated.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #18 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:39pm
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It is definitely a Shiloh barrel,probably someone took the 45-110  barrel off and put a new barrel on and sold it and it ended up on this rifle.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #19 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 10:02pm
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Hiwall55 wrote on Sep 13th, 2017 at 8:39pm:
It is definitely a Shiloh barrel,probably someone took the 45-110 barrel off and put a new barrel on and sold it and it ended up on this rifle.


If it is a Shiloh barrel then it would be an old one.  The C. Sharps Arms company holds the right to the "Old Reliable" marking on the barrel.   The Connecticut stamp on the barrel is nothing I've ever seen on either manufacturers barrels, but that could have been added at any time.

I can say that the serial number format is neither Shiloh nor C. Sharps. 

I'm revising my guess.  I think it's an Italian rifle that's been reworked to look more like an original.   

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #20 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 10:17am
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Don't Shiloh and C Sharps both use different barrel threads than the Italian barrels use?
If the barrel was swapped, then looking for Italian proof marks on the barrel wont reveal anything.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #21 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 10:56am
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The block would also be subject to proof as stress-bearing part.
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #22 - Sep 15th, 2017 at 3:56pm
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I pulled the screws that fasten the forearm to the barrel and one tang sight screw and they are 10-28's and not Metric.  I now have a pitch gauge and some digital calipers so I'll pull some others and see what I get. 

With my luck I'll find some Whitworth's  Smiley
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #23 - Sep 15th, 2017 at 6:13pm
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If the barrel is indeed a Shiloh - i.e., American - then the forearm screw would be Imperial rather than metric.  The same might hold for the tang sight screws.  Suggest you check any of the lock or action screws.

Bill Lawrence
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #24 - Sep 15th, 2017 at 8:46pm
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Bill Lawrence wrote on Sep 15th, 2017 at 6:13pm:
If the barrel is indeed a Shiloh - i.e., American - then the forearm screw would be Imperial rather than metric. The same might hold for the tang sight screws. Suggest you check any of the lock or action screws.

Bill Lawrence


Pedersoli uses 10-28 tang sight mounting screws, not metric. See here:

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Vall
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Bill Lawrence
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #25 - Sep 15th, 2017 at 9:25pm
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Pedersoli uses 10-28 tang sight mounting screws, not metric.


Is that sufficient to postulate that the action came from a Pedersoli Sharps?

Bill Lawrence
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #26 - Sep 16th, 2017 at 7:35am
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I don't think the barrel is a Shiloh or C Sharps. If you look carefully you'll see some draw filing marks that normally aren't left by those two companies. It looks like the barrel markings are acid etched rather than roll stamped. I also sold a Shiloh sight just like that about 10-12 years ago off my 74 . They are easy to come by. Just my take.
« Last Edit: Sep 16th, 2017 at 7:41am by Old-Win »  
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marlinguy
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #27 - Sep 16th, 2017 at 8:26am
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Bill Lawrence wrote on Sep 15th, 2017 at 9:25pm:
Pedersoli uses 10-28 tang sight mounting screws, not metric.


Is that sufficient to postulate that the action came from a Pedersoli Sharps?

Bill Lawrence


Absolutely not. It would take more examination and evidence for me to determine what it is, vs. what it isn't.
But a lot of spaghetti guns have been used to fool people over the years!
  

Vall
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #28 - Sep 17th, 2017 at 1:16pm
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I remember a big outfit advertising Sharps parts from a defunct maker many years ago in Shotgun News. Possibly those parts came originally from a source like that. Removing Italian proof would require major "defarbing." Would the owner be better off getting his money back. Then doing some shopping with known makers today. Beats the hell our of a "pig in poke."
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #29 - Sep 18th, 2017 at 7:32pm
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Just me but I think I would try and return it. That is a lot of money and it clearly isn't a Shiloh.



JMH
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #30 - Sep 19th, 2017 at 11:23pm
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Thank you all so much for your input and research.

I sent a formal email to the auction company giving them the option to either accept the gun back for a full refund or to make a substantial reduction in the price paid.

As everyone agreed, I will inherit the same problem if I choose to sell it.  At this point I could only say that it is a beautiful Sharps replica with an unknown source (and an authentic Shiloh Sharps rear sight).

I'll let you know the outcome.  There's an absolutely beautiful Shiloh out there on Gunsinternational.com that I'd love to have.  Only problem is that it's asking price is $7500.  I guess I could walk to work Smiley
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #31 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 8:19am
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There are several nice new Shiloh's in 45/70 on their website listed as in stock for less than half that price.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #32 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 10:31am
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Good idea.  I would also check with Bill Goodman.  He can get you a new Shiloh pretty quickly and is a great fellow to deal with.

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #33 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 11:45am
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gunlaker wrote on Sep 20th, 2017 at 10:31am:
Good idea. I would also check with Bill Goodman. He can get you a new Shiloh pretty quickly and is a great fellow to deal with.

Chris.


A new Shiloh is the only gun I'd consider buying from Bill Goodman! I've sent a couple used ones back before I finally gave up on his descriptions.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #34 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 12:17pm
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Richard S wrote on Sep 19th, 2017 at 11:23pm:
Thank you all so much for your input and research.

I sent a formal email to the auction company giving them the option to either accept the gun back for a full refund or to make a substantial reduction in the price paid.

As everyone agreed, I will inherit the same problem if I choose to sell it. At this point I could only say that it is a beautiful Sharps replica with an unknown source (and an authentic Shiloh Sharps rear sight).

I'll let you know the outcome. There's an absolutely beautiful Shiloh out there on Gunsinternational.com that I'd love to have. Only problem is that it's asking price is $7500. I guess I could walk to work Smiley

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #35 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 1:53pm
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For What It is Worth: the calibre is .45-110 and I have some experience with a 110 chambered in a M1878 Sharps Borchardt. That rifles weighs almost 14 pounds and has a shotgun butt. Accurate rifle, but it is tiring to shoot, even with the shotgun butt. Based on my experience I think the rifle in question with a carbine/military style butt will quickly become unpleasant to shoot.

Something else: are you going to load Black Powder or Smokeless? Again, based on my experience and that of others with a 110, the 110 seems to shoot best with a full charge of 105 + grains and a heavy bullet. I do not know of anyone who shoots a 110 with smokeless and I would be concerned about a double charge in that 2 7/8 long case.

Also, you have no idea if the barrel will shoot or if there are any other internal or other problems. If the rifle does not shoot and/or there are other problems, you will be responsible for the cost of the repair(s). With a new rifle, you have a warrantee.

For the price paid for this either deliberate or unknowingly misrepresented rifle (approximately US $1500.00), I would want a full refund and start looking at Shiloh-Sharps, C. Sharps, or Pedersoli.
« Last Edit: Sep 20th, 2017 at 1:59pm by Ray_Newman »  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #36 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 2:06pm
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The auction company feels that they accurately described the gun. They further said that there were bidders in person at the auction that had bid on it and no one questioned it.

They have offered to sell it for me in a future auction with no commission but obviously cannot guarantee what it might go for and there is no reserve.

The photos were not as clear as they could have been and they took the photos down as soon as the auction was over which is not normal. I trusted their which said "Shiloh Sharps". It isn't a Shiloh Sharps so I"m not going to just blow it off.
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #37 - Sep 20th, 2017 at 11:46pm
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Ok, You're not going to believe this one.

I had tried to join the Shiloh website and never got a confirmation email so I was able to track down one person who was a real Shiloh collector and email him separately. He told me that there was a master gunsmith in Montana (where else for Sharps) named John King who always stamped his guns with the original Sharps address on the barrel and receiver.

So I go started searching for John King and I find an article that confirms his identity and also states that he stamps his guns with the original addresses.

I continue to search and fall into this Sold listing from Rock Island Auctions for a 1874 Sharps rifle custom made by John King. Fortunately the closeup of the right side of the receiver is super clean. I take my rifle and start comparing the swirls of the case hardening to the ones form Rock Island and they are on the money. I go to the description and it even says that the gun has a Shiloh rear sight!

If you look at this URL (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) and you compare it to the photo I originally submitted to everyone in the beginning, you'll see that it's the same gun. Barrel length, caliber, sights and wood.

The gun sold for $3100 + and the previous owner says its a great shooter.

I won't be bothering the auction company any more

I'm going to call John King tomorrow and see if I can get some more detail but there's no doubt in my mind that this is the gun.

Again, thank you for all of your input. Your continued comments kept me searching for the answer.
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #38 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 12:06am
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John King is the real deal; he is a master for sure.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #39 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 12:12am
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This is embarrassing. The Rock Island listing shows the serial number which matches

Here I am comparing swirls in the case hardening and the serial number is sitting right there. Well, it was more fun that way
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #40 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 2:09am
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John King worked on my Borchardt and if he did the work on your rifle, it was done right and should be a shooter if you do your part!

Glad this worked out well for you.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #41 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 6:55am
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While I'm glad things have apparently worked out for Mr. Newman, his experience with RIA Auctions illustrates perfectly how I've concluded they do business and why I shy away from them and do not recommend the firm to clients.

Bill Lawrence
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #42 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 9:40am
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Bill Lawrence: you have me confused with the original poster.
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #43 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 10:05am
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That's good news.  If John King made it, it will be a good shooter.

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #44 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 2:54pm
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Bill Lawrence: you have me confused with the original poster.

My apologies (and I'm not even going to claim Great Age as an excuse for my laziness).

Still, for what they're worth, my comments about RIA Auctions still stand.

Bill Lawrence
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #45 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 5:54pm
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Since it is a 1874 I will go to bat for John King. He threaded a 1874 kit action for me a few years ago with the correct square thread for an original. He had to make a fixture to hold it in the lathe (no small feat) so he could thread it. Returned it saying he wasn't pleased with the job but it was dimensionally correct and fitted perfect when I did the barrel. Sent a little note with it saying he would never do it again! Said too much labor involved. As stated if he built it it is right.

JMH
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #46 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 7:51pm
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Congratulations on your rifle - this was a very interesting story and I am glad you persevered and got the the bottom of it. Glad you found a good deal.  Use a recoil pad and BP and shoot your rifle all day. I just shot at a match with my 45-110 - no problem with the recoil... just my windage corrections. Good luck.
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #47 - Sep 21st, 2017 at 11:18pm
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Thanks Fogman.
I was able to talk to John King this morning at length.  Great guy and not at all aware of his reputation as a premier gunsmith.
At one point in the conversation he said that he still shot competitively and said "I get beat by guys with rifles I built"
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #48 - Sep 22nd, 2017 at 9:47am
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I love a happy ending, and it doesn't get much better than finding out you've got a rifle John King was involved in. Especially considering the previous owner's purchase price, and how reasonable you got it for. Now you need to document all this, so one day it will not be another mystery for a future owner.
  

Vall
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #49 - Sep 22nd, 2017 at 10:58am
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Congratulations of the happy turn of events (or found information) that points to the rifle being a good purchase.

Vall makes a very good point about documenting as much provenance as you can on this rifle. Vall has many very neat rifles, but hearing the provenance on some of them turns them from neat to a precious piece of history.
  
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Richard S
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #50 - Sep 22nd, 2017 at 11:45am
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Thanks very much

I created a file on the gun and have all of the paperwork, emails and correspondence in it including this thread.

I contacted Rock Island Auctions yesterday and told them the story.  I knew they wouldn't give out any information on the consignor but asked it they could send him an email letting him know that I had just purchased the rifle and hoped to get his story on it. 

RIA was very nice and said that they would contact the seller and pass my email address to him.  It's a long shot but maybe my luck will run a little longer Smiley
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #51 - Sep 25th, 2017 at 11:10pm
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I just saw two John King rifles pictured for sale on the Arizona Sharpshooters web site in case you want to see a couple more he built. One is a gorgeous Hi Wall for $3500.

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #52 - Sep 26th, 2017 at 7:45pm
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Thank you for passing that along. 

It's interesting that he seems to add the factory lettering on the Badger barrels he buys.  That was the key to finding my gun in the search.

I'll have to save my dollars and see if I can't get another.
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #53 - Sep 26th, 2017 at 10:26pm
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Richard S wrote on Sep 26th, 2017 at 7:45pm:
Thank you for passing that along.

It's interesting that he seems to add the factory lettering on the Badger barrels he buys. That was the key to finding my gun in the search.

I'll have to save my dollars and see if I can't get another.


Factory rollstamps added to a barrel are not uncommon for gunsmiths to do on a proper restoration. I always have the factory rollstamps added when I do a restoration to original style.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #54 - Sep 27th, 2017 at 5:52pm
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Don't mean to hi jack this thread, but I have a "mystery Sharps" too. Well, at least a mystery Sharps barrel. Probably at the same auction that Richard S bought his John King custom Sharps, I bought a C. Sharps 1874 45-100 long range target rifle. It has a DAR barrel. I Googled DAR but didn't learn too much about DAR barrels but a little bit about the Daughters of the American Revolution. I emailed C. Sharps and they said it was a C. Sharps action that someone had bought and  customized it from there. It never had a C. Sharps barrel or wood. The wood is gorgeous and the barrel bore is in beautiful condition. Does anyone know what a DAR barrel is? Reputation, etc?
  
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gunlaker
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #55 - Sep 27th, 2017 at 6:55pm
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Likely he meant Barry Darr for the barrel.  Try Googling that.   You can determine if a C. Sharps rifle was sold complete, or just as an action by the serial number format.   

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #56 - Sep 28th, 2017 at 9:56am
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Upon further examination: I took the forearm off to look for any numbers and I found BADGER 5**  00 stamped on the barrel flat under the forearm. Evidently it is a Badger barrel. The action had been sold separately - the C. Sharps company told me that. What do the numbers mean?
  
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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #57 - Sep 28th, 2017 at 10:40am
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I'm not sure about the numbers on the barrel, but the serial number on the action is different for actions that were sold separately.  I think they begin with an A, or maybe end with one.  I can dig one out of the safe later tonight to verify if you like.

C. Sharps used Badger barrels when they were available. None of mine have Badger stamped under the forearm though.

A lot of gun builders will stamp various things on the barrels.  The folks at CPA stamp the bore/groove dimensions and twist for instance.

Chris.
  

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Re: Mystery Sharps Rifle
Reply #58 - Sep 28th, 2017 at 11:17am
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Thanks
I had someone at C Sharps verify that the action was theirs and was sold as the action only. I am thinking the rifle had the barrel and the wood added as a custom build.
  
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