S.C. Robinson (Sharps) Carbine

Samuel C. Robinson was a prominent businessman and property owner in Richmond, Virginia at the outbreak of the “war of Northern aggression”. He teamed up with John H. Lester who had migrated to Richmond shortly before the out break of the war. John was a accomplished businessman who moved his wood working machinery from Brooklyn, New York to Richmond, Virginia.

December of 1862 the Confederate Government entered into contract with the S.C. Robinson Arms Company, of which John Lester was superintendent. The contract was for as many Sharps pattern carbines the firm could produce. During the following 15 months (December 62 – March 63) S.C. Robinson’s Arms Co. manufactured around 2000 “Robinson Sharps” carbines.

The factory was taken over by the Confederate Government sometime after March of 1863. and as the war pressed on and the need for Calvary weapons increased the fabrication of weapons was rushed and many of the Robinson Sharps gained a bad reputation among the troops. One report contending that seven out of nine carbines had burst while testing. Investigation determined that improper handling of the arms would cause loose powder to leak into the lever spring mortise in the forestock, resulting in ignition and bursting of the forestock when firing. The problem was eventually solved by milling a half crescent shaped cutout in the bottom of the forestock allowing any residual powder to fall free.

While the S.C. Robinsons Arms Manufactory was in private hands there was approximately 1900 carbines manufactured and approximately 3500 made while under Confederate Government control.

S.C. Robinson Carbines are one of the few Confederate weapons with serial numbers on them, which allows us to understand when a particular carbine was manufactured, giving us better insight into there history. Most Confederate weapons aren’t so kind to the collector and enthusiasts leaving us grasping at straws to there history. In John M. Murphy’s book “Confederate Carbines and Musketoons”, John claims based on his research the lowest serialized S.C. Robinson carbine known to exist is “11” and the highest is “1909” and the lowest serialized Confederate produced carbine is “1925” and the highest is “5463”.

Robinson Carbines measure a total of 38 ½” with barrels that are 21 ½” long. They are .52 caliber and are rifled with six lands. Most barrels were browned, however some were heated blue. The lock plates/ actions were color-case hardened. The earlier versions made by S.C. Robinson are marked on the lock plate behind the hammer “S.C. Robinson / Arms Manufactory / Richmond VA/ 1862” in four lines, the serial number was stamped on the tail of the lock plate. The Government produced carbines are virtually identical to those made by S.C. Robinson except there lock plates are unmarked except for the serial number and the barrels are marked with Richmond VA behind the rear sight.

All this leads me to one of my many new Confederate Weapons. This carbine has been on my wish list for years, it is a carbine manufactured while under Government control with serial number “4469” on the tail of the lock plate, the tang at the rear of the breech block as well as the backside of the sling plate which can’t be seen while attached to the stock. All in all the carbine is in great shape for its age and history. The action is a little sloppy, but that’s to be expected, the stock does have a small crack on the left side above the trigger, beneath the sling ring…..but it’s minimal. Seems as though the horseman who carried this carbine carved his name and company into the left side of the stock (refer to the photos) which makes this weapons that much cooler…..

So there you have it another Greeeeeaaaaat Confederate weapon, I’m currently looking for an early version of the S.C. Robinson Carbine manufactured while privately owned, which should put the serial number below 1900. If you happen to have an early version Robinson Sharps that you’d like to sell give me a shout maybe we can strike a deal. If you have any questions about this or any of the other weapons at the” Civil War Arsenal” contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see ya again.

20 thoughts on “S.C. Robinson (Sharps) Carbine

  1. Hello
    My dad left me a cs robinson manufactory carbine . The exterior is in great shape except my dad apparently had the metal painted black at some point in the 1940’s. I have attempted to remove it with a flattened brass casing but there is still some left on it. The rifling is still visible but some rust is present. The action seems loose but still functions. It missing the heart sight.

    I have checked a few gun pricing guides and it appears to be worth a fair amount , around 35-40K. Of course someone with that amount who really wants this carbine would be required to get the higher pros.

    I can send pictures if your desire.


    • Charles, DO NOT CLEAN THE PAINT OFF CARBINE, it will lower value…….as far as the price is concerned depending on condition it’s worth no more then $11,000 full retail value…..not $40,000….. no images were attached to your email so I could see condition. Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Regards, Gene West

  2. Gene,

    Hello from rainy England!

    I have just come across a Sharp/Lawrence carbine for sale at a car boot sale, the woman wanted £300 but I don’t know much about civil war rifles to be honest!

    It had Sharp 1852 and Lawrence 1859 stamped on the side but I couldn’t see any serial number or government stamp. Just wondering if you wouldn’t mind telling me how much this would be worth if anything? Picture attached.

    Kind regards,


    • Ben, Sunny and hot here in Bradenton Florida, sorry for rubbing it in……as far as the Sharp’s rifle goes it’s my opinion the forward stock is not original and kinda looks as though the butt plate is missing and I’m not certain the barrel bands are correct……wish you would have sent an image of the other side of the weapon, oh well…..

      If all the hardware is correct and the action is good, if the rear stock is correct and the barrel is good ( hard to tell in a photo) the weapon is probably worth about $1200.00 in American money, not certain how that translates to your dollar system……

      You can research online and replace the forward stock, barrel bands and butt plate making the weapon value about $2000.00 – 2200.00 American…

      Hope this all helps, Regards, Gene West

  3. Gene,

    Ha, thank you – it’s rained all week here!

    It did have a metal butt plate, that was on the side and went around to the back of the butt. The woman did mention she believed the barrel to be unusually longer but I don’t know if that’s true or how she knew that!

    Just wondered if it was worth a go for £300, sounds it if it could fetch $1200 (it doesn’t translate well with the pound being so weak!).

    I might try and get some more pictures off the woman, been quite interesting reading up on these even if I know nothing about the civil war!

    Thanks for the help,


    • Ben, the barrel on the rifle should be 30″ long…..however if the barrel is 36″ long and has a bayonet lug it will seek a 50% increase in value…….below is info on weapon…..this is not a carbine they had 19″ and 21″ barrels, this is a rifle ……longer barrel for better accuracy at longer range……

    • Doyle please send quality images of Carbine. Lock Plate, stock, barrel, Breech block in the dropped position and any markings. I will do my best in answering any questions you have.

      Gene West

  4. Hi Gene,

    We were in touch about a year chatting some about this carbine you had pictured on your website. If you ever find an earlier version and decide you’d like to sell this Perkins Carbine from your collection, please let me know. Hope this finds you doing well.

    All the best,

    • Hi Mike,
      Not looking to sell the Carbine currently, however if I were I’ll keep you in mind…..is there a specific reason your interested in this carbine versus others? Sometimes others become available and if you like I’ll let you know if it’s practical……what state are you located in?

      Kind Regards, Gene West

  5. Hello Gene,

    I was doing some research on two civil war weapons I have and came across some emails that you wrote where you were helping out some other novices in civil war weapons and I was hoping you could do the same for me.
    I have what I believe to be a US model 1861 rifle-musket from the Springfield Armory.
    I also think I have a Sharps New Model 1859 Carbine, early type. I’m attaching photos of both weapons. Both need cleaning but I don’t want to do any damage to the patina so any info on what should be done to clean and preserve them would be helpful.
    The Sharps is missing the rear sight and on the right side it appears the there was a crack in the stock which was repaired. i included a picture of the area.
    If you could tell me anything about them that would be great. Also, I read that possibly the Sharps may have been sold to the state of Georgia but I’m not sure if that is true.
    I know that this may be difficult from looking at just photos but if you could give me a estimate on their value that would be great.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    My system will only allow me to send some many photos on one email so you will get a couple more emails with more photos of the weapons.


  6. Hi Gene,

    I have found a carbine of a similar serial number and condition to your Perkins carbine that is carved with initials of a member of the 5th Virginia Cavalry. The owner is looking for $15,000 and $16,000 for it. What are your thoughts? Any insight you can provide I will surely appreciate.

    Best Regards,

  7. Sir:

    I would like to identify an old gun about which I know little. From your Civil War Arsenal website, you obviously know a lot about Civil War weaponry. I have a rifle passed down to me, and I am ready to pass it on to one of my children. My father thought it to be some model of a Sharps. From my research, it has the “appearance” of a Sharps. But, I cannot find any ID marks on the weapon related to a Sharps mfg. I do see a serial number, 2945 in two places on metal, right side, and top behind the breech?/hammer. I also see …Richmond Va…. stamped on the top of the barrel just behind the rear sight(not adjustable) . Barrel length is about 18”; entire length of the gun, including wooden stock, is about 36 inches. Again, the weapon LOOKS like a Sharps, but I suspect not. I am hoping you might ID from the above info or direct me to other sites. Thanks very much for any help and/or information you can offer .



  8. Gene,
    I have just made a stunning discovery…almost miraculous!!

    My Dad collected books…was in the book business for Houghton Mifflin and eventually was Director of the Book Store at the U of Oklahoma for 30 years. . I have a book on the Sharps Rifle, written by Winston O. Smith, 1943, William Morrow and Co. Perhaps you have the book, as well. The one I have is an autographed copy to my Dad. I have looked at it before in passing….but just NOW relooked, flipped it open to a page of Sharps rifles and this very rifle is listed on p.73, with a picture of it in plate 25 !! The exact serial number is stated. Listed as Confederate Copy! Unbelievable that I would open to the picture and description. So, perhaps you can confirm what I think I have just discovered and provide even more info. I also suspect that Mr. Smith was involved in Dad’s acquiring this rifle, because the exact rifle is listed in the book as “From the Author’s Collection.” I am sorry to have perhaps had you go to some trouble on my behalf, but thank you. I would still enjoy hearing from you with confirmatory or interesting info (how many were made? date of mfg, etc?)about such a Confederate weapon. I wonder if I should insure this piece? It seems to have a little history with another expert on Sharps rifles.


    • Jim,
      Unfortunately I’m on the road now and can’t send you more information about your Carbine…… I will be home in about a week and will forward whatever information I have.
      What I can tell you is it is a Samuel Robinson Carbine, manufactured in Richmond Virginia sometime in 1863. Sometimes called a Confederate Sharps because it’s almost an exact copy of the Northern Sharps Carbine.
      About 8000 of these Carbine were made during the War Between the States. They weren’t well received by the cavalry troops they were issued to. The tolerances were not as tight as there Union counterparts allowing gun powder to fall between the falling breechblock and the barrel. Gunpowder would collect in the forward stock, it’s documented that many of these carbines exploded because of this…… if you look at the bottom of the forward stock on your example you will see that the back of it has been modified to allow gunpowder to fall out instead of collecting. This is a war time modification and is accurate to the weapon.
      Your example is in very good condition, there are very few existing examples as nice as yours.
      It is absolutely Confederate, it was used in the War Between the States, and it is in excellent condition.
      If you ever consider selling it, consider me as a buyer.
      Best regards , Gene West

  9. Gene,

    Thank you so much for the information provided. Very kind of you to take the time to respond. Very important to me to learn all I can, so I do hope you might be able to send any additional data pertaining to the “history” of this type weapon. I have copied the information on your website pertaining to Sharps weaponry in general, and will keep it with the weapon to enjoy. I look forward to hearing more from you at your convenience. Should circumstances require that I sell, I shall inquire regarding your interest continues. Enjoyed the “back and forth” exchange. Thanks again.

    PS. We lived in Md for years. We took the opportunity to visit a number of CW battlefields, museums, and historical sites. All fascinating.


  10. Hi,

    I have a family hand-me-down rifle from possibly the civil-war era. It looks like a 1863/1859 “Sharp” like rifle. Octagon barrel. It came with a 1850 Wristbreaker sword from the same great aunt.

    The only markings are on the barrel in faint letters, not numbers.

    Is this anything of value or interest? Or just a nice family keepsake?


    • Gary, unfortunately with the images you’ve provided it’s hard to say what you have. There has to be more markings on the weapon, possibly the lock plate or barrel. That said I believe you have a Sharps Model 1874 Sporting Rifle. It’s not in very good condition so it loses much of its value. I’m enclosing an attachment below that will explain details. Hope this helps.

      Best regards, Gene West

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