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Article created: Sunday, September 14, 2008
Article modified: Sunday, December 28, 2008

1909 first official issue Pistole 08
instruction manual D.V.E. Nr. 255
Commerative Coins
Guns & Ammo coin
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Manual Description

Featured above is a 4 May 1909 first official issue P.08 Luger instruction manual D.V.E. Nr. 255. with a pale bluish-green, hard bound front and rear cover with a dark blue fabric binder. The manual is completely intact and in excellent condition. The manual measures 6" x 4-¼" and has eighty one pages of text and illustrations relating to the Parabellum Pistole 08. This is one of the rarest of all manuals pertaining to this pistol. On the cover is the word Entwurf which translates to Draft or Provisional. This is the precursor of official German Military manuals relating to the Parabellum Pistole 08 and eventually evolved into the 1930’s and 1940's Pistole 08 German Military Manual H.Dv. 255 as well as others.

Pictured are examples of unit designation circular stamps located on the inside cover of three issued 1909 D.V.E. 255 Pistole 08 Entwurf or Provisional instruction manuals:

  1. Koniglich Preussisich Kurz Marine-Kanonen Batterie No 8 or the Royal Prussian Short Naval Cannon Battery No 8
  2. * Fussartillerie Ersatz-Battailion * or Foot Artillery, Replacement-Battalion, II Bitz. No 14, II. Rekr. (Recruit)-Depot
  3. The subject manual has an unidentified, entwined stylized text characters, non military type logo stamp AD, possibly Artillery Division or library reference copy or simply a stylized rubber stamp of the previous collectors’ initials.

Manual Modifications

The subject manual was issued in early 1909 to select units of the German Army and to Field Grade and some upper echelon officers. It was to be updated and changed as information regarding the Pistols’ operation was developed. Because it went to officers primarily, there were very few illustrations such as assembly, disassembly, etc. as this was not the manual's objective. This particular manual is replete with changes. i.e., deletions, additions. Many of the official additions are on separate cut-out pieces of printed paper in the same font style and size as the original text, probably provided from the original printing house identified on the cover, and are strewn throughout the manual, not necessarily in the proper location. These changes were noted throughout the manual as they took place, later added as individual typed paste-in inserts in three distinct time frames as identified by three specific dated summary type inserts noted herein.

Some of the individual changes were pasted-in while others are loose or have become detached and are spread throughout the manual. The dates in the subject manual indicate page changes in 1910, 1913 and 1914. Many changes were hand written, in very small characters over existing print and in the margins with a red ink pen. This pristine condition manual was, no doubt used as reference only, and carefully stored or set aside for basically 90 years. If for example, this manual was used in the field, many of the small pieces of paper or corrections, some pieces no larger than 2mm square, with only a single typed asterisk and parenthesis "*|)" would be long gone. Another manual has the same identical 1910, 1913 and 1914 change pages except for some additional margin comments, also written in red ink.

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As scattered the individual changes are throughout the manual, they are all identified in three special descriptive paste-in inserts dated 1910, 1913 and 1914 that summarize and identify the changes. Each dated insert identifies the change pages and paragraphs for that time frame. It is interesting to note that with the first November 1910 set of changes the manual (or pistol) is still identified as provisional or "zum Entwurf Pistole 08" and it is not until the March 1913 set of changes that acknowledge the 1909 D.V.E. Nr. 255 manual and pistol as Regulation or "zu der Vorschrift: Pistole 08" as the official regulation Pistol 08 instruction manual.

A detached modification was found on the following pages. Mouse over each item to view the page modification.
inside cover      page 2      page 12      page 14      page 16      page 18      page 20
page 24      page 26      page 28      page 30      page 37      page 39      page 40
page 44      page 46      page 48      page 54      page 66      page 72

Manual Publication

The DWM P.08 initial deliveries specified at the signing of the contract in September 1908 were for 50,000 Lugers, 9,000 cleaning rods and turn screws (magazine loading-screwdriver combination tool), or one turn screw and cleaning rod per six pistols, with no mention of instruction manuals. Deliveries of DWM and Erfurt P.08 Lugers from 1909 through August 1914 are estimated to be 250,000 pistols1 and since there is no published Luger literature or identified official period German military documentation that discusses instruction manual delivery requirements, one has to pick an arbitrary figure, say one manual per 100 guns or 2500 manuals. Since the subject 1909 manual has changes dating to April 1914 with only one apparent, verified manual print date of 1909 for all P.08 Lugers through 1914 and perhaps all P.08 production through WW1 makes the manual indeed rare.

Additional testimony to the scarcity or low survivability of this manual is the fact that only one other identified blue cover manual example with the identical cover text was available, being featured in four Luger publications, European and American, over a time span of 1985 to 1992. In addition, the seller/collector of the subject manual has stated that he has encountered only three such manuals in the last fifty years and that the subject manual was of the best condition as compared to an example of a lesser condition manual.

Interestingly, the last dated paste-in manual update of April 1914 was only four months prior to the start of the Great War. With the obvious German preoccupation with the war, any published revisions of the 1909 manual took a low priority, hence the 1909 P.08, eighty one page instruction manual, with all its paste-in revisions had to make do. It wasn’t until the German build up to World War II that a streamlined, shortened official military manual of forty six pages was published in 1936, which served both the Army (Heer) H. Dv. 255 and Air Force (Luftwaffe) L. Dv. 405. through the end of World War II. A clue in determining the official status of the subject 1909 manual can be found in the red line through the Entwurf or draft statement on the manual cover indicating the final updated, accepted version as of April 1914.

Only two other examples of the subject manual have been identified by the author to be in collections:

  1. Formally of the John Pearson collection, featured in Collectors Digest, The Luger Book, Luger Holsters and Their Accessories and Imperial Lugers.
  2. Part of the G. L. Sturgess collection.


It is the manual featured in Imperial Lugers, formally of the Pearson collection, that shows two Tafels or tables described as "section drawing from the Pistol 08 Army Manual."2. The Tafel II Figure J and Tafel III figure L with P.08 Luger illustrations in what appear to be two pages are not found in the subject manual nor listed in page 3, page 4 or page 5 of the table of contents.

Tafels or Plates are usually, fold-out illustrations or single pages at the end of manuals. The subject pictured Tafels II and III P.08 illustrations imply a separate page for Tafel I not shown, and Figures J and L indicate other added figures of A through I or nine additional figures suggests a later, significant upgrade to the manual with many associated text page changes. However, the fact that the Pearson manual (cover) is described as blue, with no changes to the cover information or internal text as described in the figure 35a caption, is, however, contradictory to any additional dated descriptive paste-in change to the original manual, being later than April 1914 vs. the two featured manuals, both with identical, three dated paste-in changes. Interestingly, Tafel III Figure L shows a "hold-open" device, a part omitted from the first delivery P.08 Lugers and other possible changes.

It may well be that there is another later printed, identical cover text information version or revision of this manual with either a black or dark grey cover that could account for the purportedly “P.08” illustrations but, if so, it is yet to be identified. The Imperial Lugers pictured manual illustrations themselves appear to be a collage of separate paste-in figures of small parts as the text numbered small parts are pictured at 90° or perpendicular to the pistol. Although, since the illustration picture appears to be a copy of a copy it is difficult to determine if it is a paste-in composite. Also unusual is the Tafel II and III legend being on the same page. Another possibility is that the illustrations may have been modified for the Imperial Lugers book.

In fact, the source of the purported P.08 illustrations shown in Imperial Lugers on page 90, figure 35a are not from the "army" manual, as stated in the caption, but are originally from the New Model German language commercial manual of which all numbered parts agree with the Imperial Lugers "P.08" illustration. Additionally, the original commercial New Model 9mm Luger illustrations are not of the P.08 but of the New Model short frame, Grip Safety Cal 9mm commercial Parabellum and interestingly were used in other, later official German military manuals/publications, as the commercial 9mm Parabellum manual illustrations share a commonality of certain numbered parts to later published P.08 manual illustrations, of which all were copied or modified from the original commercial 9mm Grip Safety Parabellum manual illustrations. One example cited, being from the 1926 Reichsmarine manual which shows certain parts being identically numbered to the New Model German commercial manual illustrations. Another example is the German navy manual publication entitled 1944 Unterreichtsheft der M.L.A. dated as late as 1944 with the identical numbered parts as the 1926 Reichsmarine manual.

The publication date and the printer of the DWM German language New Model Luger instruction manual is not known. The manual could have been published/printed anytime from 1906 to as late as 1909. This manual, as stated above, does include a cross section illustration of what appears to be the P.08 commercial model, however there is no text reference to the P.08 in the "Schlußbemerkungen" section on page 40 of the German language manual nor in the identical "Final Remarks" section on page 39 of the English manual. There is only a vague reference of German Army association "that after very careful trials made for years comparatively together with different other known types and after 'practical military service trials in Germany,'...it has been accepted as Ordnance small arm." implying that the German army had officially adopted the P.08 Parabellum or Pistole 08 at the printing/publication time frame of the New Model DWM commercial Parabellum manual. The German navy did, however, accept the Grip Safety Pistole 04 as their regulation Ordnance pistol as of 1906.

The Final Remarks section of the Hans Tauscher New Model Luger, tan cover American published English language manual, which was printed in the same time frame as the DWM German language New Model Luger instruction manuals, is more specific in stating that the Luger was adopted for the German Army (no) and navy (yes). It should be noted that DWM and especially Hans Tauscher, the new world DWM representative, were notoriously zealous in their promotion of the Luger models. So aggressive in fact, that Tauscher stated in a circa 1907 Hans Tauscher flier that the .45 Caliber (Luger) now in the course of manufacture will be on the market shortly when in fact only three specimens were ever made. Therefore the credibility of such ambitious statements are justifiably dubious.

One cannot deny certain P.08 characteristics in the Tafel II 129 mm length "new model" short frame illustration in the New Model commercial instruction manual, specifically the lack of machining for the grip safety spring and the grip safety axle pin hole. However, since Tafel II is a cross sectional drawing, that among other things omitted the grip strap reinforcing rib, this makes the Tafel II drawing inconclusive especially since the Tafel III drawing shows the same 129 mm length New Model short frame in a standard pictorial view with machining for the grip safety spring and the grip safety axle pin hole. In fact, the source for the New Model illustrations originated with the illustrations used in the circa 1902 Old Model German language Parabellum commercial manual. The cross section illustrations are so similar, possibly done by the same person, that the same style or types of drawings were used for the New Model commercial manual illustrations. Therefore, although the Tafel II cross sectional drawing with the New Model short frame and new recoil spring is very convincing as a P.08, it is not. This is based on the near identical, save for the different caliber, Old Model, 131mm long frame cross sectional illustration, which also shows no machining for the Grip Safety spring retention and axle pin anchor hole, yet it is clearly the drawing for the Old Model Grip Safety Parabellum.

Comparison of Tafel II illustrations

Longitudinal axal section, ready for firing. is the DWM commercial, English language manual text caption description of the Table II Fig. J. Parabellum cross sectional illustration for both the circa 1902 Old Model and post 1902 New Model commercial Parabellum manuals. Please note the identical German language text description spelling of the circa 1902 Tafel II, Fig. J. illustration being: Achsialer Längsschnitt, schussberiet. vs. the different post 1902 New Model Tafel II, Fig. J. illustration caption spelling being: Axialer Längsschnitt, schußberiet. The difference in the German language spelling is the result of changes implemented as a result of the 1902 German Orthographic Conference or it is possible, at the time that the alternate spelling was also acceptable German and simply a matter of style.

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Table II Fig. J. Parabellum cross sectional illustration for the circa 1902 Old Model
DWM commercial, English language commercial Parabellum manual.

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Table II Fig. J. Parabellum cross sectional illustration for the post 1902 New Model
DWM commercial, English language commercial Parabellum manual.

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Table II Fig. J. Parabellum cross sectional illustration for the circa 1902 Old Model
DWM commercial, German language commercial Parabellum manual.

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Table II Fig. J. Parabellum cross sectional illustration for the post 1902 New Model
DWM commercial, German language commercial Parabellum manual.


In summary, the idea of such an extensive revision to the original 1909 published P.08 manual seems implausibale since none have been identified, i.e. escaped the collecting fraternity. Furthermore, in the authors opinion, all advanced collectors of Luger paperwork accept the 1909 P.08 instruction manual with its documented changes to April 1914, less any P.08 illustrtations, to be the final official version. The subject 1909 P.08 first issue instruction manual was not the last German P.08 pistol related manual issued as a draft or Entwurf as they appear as late as 1940, an example being a 1940 Police weapons training manual with multiple, similar paste-in corrections and deletions.

The period military bureaucracy was notoriously frugal in their weapons manual updates/reprints. Other European nations, besides Germany, issued updates to existing manuals, an example being the 1928 Dutch Navy first issue Automatisch Pistool No.1 Parabellum instruction manual which equals or exceeds the 1909 P.08 instruction manual in paste-ins, additions and deletions. The Dutch issued changes and used the 1928 manual for a full 9 years before they incorporated all the changes into a new 1937 manual. The only other Luger pistol manual issued by the Imperial German Army is the equally rare, seldom seen LP08 Artillery Luger instruction manual issued in 1917, three years after the pistols introduction.

The early Swiss Ordonnanzpistolen instruction manuals also used paste-in changes or modifications although they were not identified on the covers as drafts. An example being a rare 1900 pilot or provisional Ordonnanzpistolen instruction manual.

The rarest Imperial German modified paste-in military document by far to the Luger collector of paperwork, in the authors opinion, is a 1907 original printing Imperial Navy Torpedo Division Service Handbook. The handbook has an entire full page section, consisting of 12 stapled pages of instructions for The Pistol 04 or Die Pistole 04. This includes sections on the Care and Handling (Behandlung und Reinigung), the Use of the Pistol 04 (Gebrauch der Pistole 04) and for the shooting and aiming of the newly introduced (New) Model 1904 Navy Luger. The sections were paste-in additions in 1909 to the rear section of the 1907 printed handbook. A half page paste-in Pistole 1904 Table of Contents was added at the front of the handbook. The additions were made four years before the final revised 1913 Pistole 1904 instruction manual printing.

Pictured here is the first mating of a very low serial number 1909 first contract batch delivery, unaltered 1st issue P.08 Luger, being the 24th pistol issued to the Machine Gun Company of the Bavarian 11th Infantry Regiment or B.11.R.M.G. 24. together with the subject original 1909 Pistol 08 provisional instruction manual.


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