1862 Sharps & Hankins Rifle Serial No. 1

Value (2012) | $10,000 Retail

I brought a Sharps & Hankins, an old Civil War rifle. This old rifle has got a 32 3/4-inch barrel and it's got hexagon bore and where the serial number is located is... is a one there.

Well, let's take a look at that number one, because that's one of the key points that makes this not just a Sharps & Hankins but a significant American firearm. If we look there, we have a serial number one, and it's consistent on the other parts of the gun. This is a .52 caliber, and it's different than most every other Sharps & Hankins you'll ever encounter. In 1862, Sharps & Hankins joined together, and this was one of their primary models. They made 8,000 of these guns, but this is the first one. You can only have one number one.

That's right.

And that's sitting on this table. We have a beautiful Sharps mark. We also have the factory engraving, which lets us know that it was a special gun. The barrel is the longer version. They realized that that barrel's too long. They cut it down for the regular productions. The navy model had a 24-inch barrel and the cavalry model had a 19-inch barrel. There were a couple of other unique features with the Sharps & Hankins. One is the way that it loaded. We can pick it up. The whole barrel slides forward to let you put the cartridge in. You load the cartridge and then back, a lot easier than the way a regular Sharps worked. Sharps had been around for a long time making military models, sporting models, several different models, and this was one of the things that he thought was an improvement. It was, unless you were bouncing on horseback, so he went basically back to the same style that he always had with a dropdown block. There's a couple of other neat things about this gun. This one has an iron buttplate. They went on later to do brass buttplates on the regular military models-- the navy, cavalry models. And did you ever notice the little lever on the back?

I didn't know what that was for.

That's a safety. It was one of the first guns to employ a really functional safety. And the way that it worked, you cocked it back and you slid that up, and that way the hammer couldn't strike the center pin. It's a really cool design. It worked really well until that little screw came out and it gets lost, which in most of the time, it's missing. This one, it's really nice and intact. It has a couple of condition issues. It's got a thick patina all over, just from years of being enjoyed, not just sat on a shelf. How did you come by it?

My daddy gave it to me. When we got married, he walked up and handed me that and said, "Take it to your home."

So it was a wedding present? It's a wonderful gift.

Very wonderful, I thought.

You're a lucky guy to get a present like that. Because of the serial number one, because it is a unique piece-- it's got the longer barrel, it's got the factory engraving, it's got a special quality wood stock-- I feel that the gun today would retail for about $10,000. And to me it's more historically significant than that, but that's where it would bring in today's market.

That's pretty good.

That's one of the coolest guns I've ever held in my hand.

Appraisal Details

Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Update (2012)
$10,000 Retail
Appraised value (2008)
$10,000 Retail
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
December 17, 2012: We contacted appraiser Rafael Eledge for an updated appraisal in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $10,000 (Unchanged)

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.