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POTD: Cold Brew from a Hot Gat – Coffee Mill Sharps

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Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have one of those early US service rifle oddities. This is a Coffee Mill Sharps rifle. These popped up at a time when Union soldiers were issued coffee as part of their kit. Often enough coffee beans to last them a year. The reason for both the bean and the subsequent Coffee Mill Sharps was that ground coffee could be tampered with much like you see in movies with bricks of drugs. People who would sell large quantities of ground coffee to the military would add small amounts of dirt to it to increase the volume and still make money. Beans began being issued and with troops grinding their coffee with stones there came an idea to work a grinder into the stock of a rifle. The Coffee Mill Sharps was born. Only about 100 of them were produced and most reports say they did not work well. I’m a coffee guy so this thing is right up my alley.

“This New Model 1863 is fitted with a reproduction “Coffee Mill” with the detachable handle attached on the left side. (Known examples have handle on the right). This mill was invented by Lieut. Col. Walter King of the 4th Missouri Cavalry and was actually intended to grind grain to feed the cavalry during raids. Fewer than one hundred Sharps are believed to have been fitted with the device; some sources indicate that only twelve are known to have survived. A similar example is pictured on pages 350-351 of THE WILLIAM M. LOCKE COLLECTION by Frank Sellers. The top of the barrel is marked “SHARPS RIFLE/MANUFG. CO./HARTFORD CONN.” ahead of the rear sight and “NEW MODEL 1863” at the breech. The left rear barrel flat is marked “E.A.W.” The lock is marked “C. SHARPS’ PAT./OCT. 5TH 1852” and “R.S. LAWRENCE’S PAT/APRIL 12TH 1859”. The right side of the receiver is marked “C. SHARPS PAT/SEPT. 12TH 1848”. “H.H.H.” is marked on the saddle ring bar mount. It has a pinned blade front sight and folding ladder rear sight with Lawrence patent marked base and the ladder graduated to 800 yards (sliding ladder bar absent). It is mounted with a smooth walnut stock and forearm with a single barrel band and a carbine style iron buttplate. A faint “D??” cartouche is visible near the mill on the left side of the butt.”
Coffee Mill Sharps

Lot 3135: Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company New Model 1863 Carbine 52 per – Civil War Sharps New Model 1863 Percussion Saddle Carbine with “Coffee Mill” Stock. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from

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