I will start with the subject of this piece first. I found this rifle on an auction site with plenty of close-up photographs and provenance. The site is Collectors Firearms, The serial number is pictured in one of the photographs as #C54634, one of three Model 1874 Sporting Rifles in .50 Caliber shipped from the factory in Hartford, Connecticut. The shipping date is listed as April 24, 1875, and was sent to a the sporting goods dealer Spies, Kissam & Company in New York City. The total cost of all three of these rifles, plus bullet molds and shipping crate was $92.94.
I could have chosen a different Sharps, perhaps one of their Buffalo Rifles, but Collectors Firearms supplied plenty of photographs of this one, and I decided to go with this one rather than one that perhaps would have been used here in Montana - because I LIKED IT.
I have used this rifle before. In 2016, I used it on a piece of billhead for another early Helena merchant, although this time I'm even more confident that I've used a document that has been authenticated. A Montana gentleman who collects anything Sharps has confirmed that Adolph Birkenfeld was indeed a Sharps dealer, and one of the rifles he owns is listed as being shipped to Mr. Birkenfeld in 1874. The business was at 10 South Main, and the business was still at the same location in 1900. The census for that year lists Mr. Birkenfeld as a Capitalist. He was in the right business!