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 Post subject: A Curious Sharps Rifle
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2023 9:10 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 320
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters,

The Invaluable Auction website contains a very unusual item that was recently sold. What caught the eyes of my my fellow USSS researchers was the following:

MILITARY PERCUSSION RIFLE. Cal. 52. S# 40578. Presentation plate found in patch box marked "PRESENTED BY SHARPS RIFLE MANUFACTURING CO./APRIL 10th 1862 A.D./To MAJOR CASPAR TREPP/CO. A 1st REG. U.S.S.S."

The Sharps rifle serial # is earlier than the Berdan Contract New Model 1859, falling within the Mitchell USN contract, the 30 inch barrel is fitted with a guide and lock for a saber bayonet. It lacks the set triggers. The Mitchell Sharps was purchased and issued by August 1861.

While the “Trepp” rifle could have been purchased by a private distributor (Schuyler, Hartley and Graham bought up rifles rejected by the Ordnance Department and sold to their customers), the early date raises questions. Contemporary regimental/sharpshooter correspondence fails to note a presentation by the Swiss-German company to their Captain in April 1862. The single Sharps in the regiment during the Yorktown siege belonged to Truman Head of Co. C 1st USSS.

Caspar Trepp did possess an inscribed Model 1860 Colt revolver, serial #79365, with the backstrap engraved with: Caspar Trepp, Co. A, 1st Reg. S.S. However, it’s not clear if it was presented to him by his company. Rudolf Ashmann, Trepp’s personal friend and Swiss compatriot, didn’t mention any presentation in his book, Memoirs of a Swiss Officer in the American Civil War (he did describe the company presenting a engraved sword to the departing Lt. Col. Frederick Mears). The revolver became part of the collection of noted author and firearms collector, Wiley Sword. Sword featured the revolver in his article: “Lt. Col. Caspar Trepp’s Colt Revolver and the Reconnaissance to Pitzers Wood”; Gettysburg Magazine Vol 14, pgs 46-51)

Even more curious is the location of John Taylor stamp (the Colt sub-inspector assigned to examine the Berdan Sharps). Instead of being on the wrist opposite the lock plate, it is crudely stamped inside the patch box, it also lacks the italicized JT script within an oval border.

Instead of the brass plaque tribute to Caspar Trepp being prominently displayed on the buttstock, it is hidden within the patch box. This is inconsistent with presentation grade rifles made by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company.

The engraving work is also significantly different, lacking the balance, proportion and elegant hand inscribed script of presentation grade plaques made by Sharps (see Volume 2 of Marcot’s ‘Sharps Firearms ;The Percussion Era’, featuring close up photos of engraved Sharps rifle’s presented to politicians, military officers and esteemed persons).

There are other inconsistencies my comrades in research identified, but I will let fellow sharpshooters examine the piece and arrive at their own conclusions. The link to the website is;

https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/ ... 9b5a3d48b8

Bill Skillman
Michigan Companies
Berdan Sharpshooters Survivors Association
(Reactivated)


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