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Sharps Carbine
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Sharps Carbine

Catalog #: 32687    Accession #: 69413
Credit: Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History


Christian Sharps

Christian Sharps got his start in the gun making business by working at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal. The first Sharps firearm was patented in 1848, and by 1850, the first models of Sharps Sporting Rifles were being made in Mill Creek, Pennsylvania by the firm of A. S. Nippes. In 1851, a new breechloader was being made in Windsor, Vermont by the firm of Robbins & Lawrence. Rifle production continued in Vermont while a new Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company was formed in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1855, manufacturing was moved to Hartford and continued until 1876. Operations were then moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut until 1880. Although the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company bore his name, Christian Sharps was not the principal owner. In 1854 he began his own C. Sharps & Company to make his own handguns. He formed a partnership with William Hankins in 1862. Sharps & Hankins manufactured four-barrel pepperboxes and single-shot breech loading rifles and carbines. That partnership ended in 1866. Christain C. Sharps & Company ceased operations with Sharps' death in 1874.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 6.75" H x 38" W x 3" D

Physical Description

United States Sharps M1853 carbine, .52 caliber, hammer missing.

General History

Henry Ward Beecher raised money to purchase Sharp's rifles for use by antislavery forces in Kansas. “Rifles,” said Beecher, are “a greater moral agency than the Bible” in the fight against slavery. The guns were packed in crates labeled "Bibles" so they would not arouse suspicion. Soon the Sharps rifles sent to Kansas were referred to as “Beecher’s Bibles.”


Country: United States
Era: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
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