One of the icons in the collecting of original Sharps rifles is the Model 1874, Hartford production ‘NUMBER ONE SHARPS CREEDMOOR’ rifle. These deluxe long range target rifles were built by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company, Hartford, Connecticut in 1874 – 1875 and were intended to compete in international target competitions at ranges of 800 to 1000 yards.
The Sharps ‘Creedmoor’ was designed as a consequence of a letter sent to the New York Herald and published on Nov. 22,1873 titled, “Challenge to the Riflemen of America from the Riflemen of Ireland”. The Irish rifle team had recently won a long range championship rifle match against the English team and thought themselves the World Champion Long Range Rifle Shooting Champions of the World. During the latter part of the 19th century and into the early 20th century organized target matches were some of the most important sporting events in the USA. The American National Rifle Association founded in 1871 supervised the building of a shooting range in Creedmoor, Long Island, NY and a New York rifle club accepted the Irish challenge. The rifle match was to be conducted at 800, 900, and 1000 yard ranges. The paper target for these matches had a 3 foot square ‘bullseye’ which at 1000 yds. looked like the head of a pin to the shooter. The Irish and English rifle teams claimed the finest target rifles in the world were the deluxe muzzle loading match rifles built in London, England by Whitworth and other famous makers which could not possibly be equaled by breechloaders.
The Americans didn’t agree. The Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford Connecticut designed a special long range target rifle using their Model 1874 action to compete in the international target match. According to existing British and Irish rules the rifles could not exceed ten pounds in weight, had to have open iron sights, single triggers (no set or ‘hair’ triggers allowed), and the shooting had to be done without any rifle rest or sling. Sharps designed and built 134 ‘Number 1 Creedmoor Rifles’ the first of which which were ready by the end of March, 1874. The ‘No.1 Sharps Creedmoor’ rifle had a 32″ barrel, was in .44-90-2 5/8″ Sharps caliber, had a single trigger, and weighed 10 lbs. Special long range vernier elevation and wind gauge sights were designed for these rifles. The sights for each rifle were put up in Moroccan leather cases lined in silk/velvet with Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co. markings inside the lid.
The American six man team won the long range match held at Creedmoor, NY on Sept. 26, 1874 claiming the prize and title of ,”World Champion Rifle Shots”. In the following years American teams continued to win to the degree that the British would not let them compete in English matches but did allow them to ‘coach’ the Irish team, and the Irish team consistently won their matches.
This rare and important ‘Sharps No.1 Creedmoor’ rifle, accompanied by its original cased Creedmoor sights, was shipped from the Sharps factory to their agents ‘J. P. Moore & Sons’, New York City on April 1, 1874 being one of the first ‘Creedmoor’ rifles produced. It is most likely this rifle was actually used in the first Creedmoor match in Sept.,1874.
This rare Sharps ‘No.1 Creedmoor’ is in excellent original condition and is accompanied by its original sights in their factory original leather covered case (an original Sharps Hartford Creedmoor sight case is a great rarity). This rifle is also accompanied by factory serial number authentication from William Peace including a copy of the actual Sharps factory ledger entry for this rifle. William Peace was one of the premier Sharps collectors of the 1960s and owned the original Sharps factory records at that time.
CONDITION: This original No.1 Creedmoor retains 95%+ original blue on its full octagon barrel. The bore and mechanical functions are excellent. The frame and lock retain 85% original Hartford-Sharps muted color casehardening. Most of the screws retain their original blued finish. All serial numbers match and the rear sight base is numbered to the rifle. The sights are in excellent condition. The original sight case is in excellent condition with a bit of handling wear. The semi-deluxe walnut stocks are in excellent condition retaining 95%+ original finish with a few very light handling marks.
Provenance: This Sharps Creedmoor was acquired from Dewey Bryant, Gray Maine, in the Fall of 1969. Dewey was well known as an early collector of fine single shot target rifles and Winchester repeaters. Dewey said that he had purchased this Creedmoor in Maine in 1935. This rifle has been in a private collection since 1969.
Price: $21,500.00 – SOLD