Pictured above is a genuine 1920s commercial Artillery Luger, serial number 2504n and not a made up parts gun from a military issued Imperial Artillery Luger. Although the common belief is that DWM did not manufacture new Artillery Luger parts in the 1920s, such as barrels, multi-position adjustable sights or especially Artillery rear links without the V notched integral rear sight. However, there may be exceptions. So the next question is what was the status of Imperial Artillery spare parts, were they serialized or proofed, blued or in the white? Since the subject 2504n barrel, receiver, toggle link assembly and frame appear to be void of Imperial markings, proofs, serial numbers, et al., then 2504n was C/N and small parts serial number stamped in the commercial style placement by DWM/BKIW. The frame and barrel full four digit N suffix serial numbers and the N letter suffix are identical in style and font size.
The toggle link assembly, with the exception of the Artillery rear link is a typical 1920s DWM/BKIW without any serial numbers, but with the expected left side C/N breechblock proof. The rear breechblock face is stamped with the number 13 as is the Geladen stamped extractor underside tang. These number stampings, which can be matching or not, and are only found on breechblocks and extractors made, starting in the immediate post war 1919 – 1921 time frame and continuing through the 1920s until about 1928 into the four digit T suffix range.
The frame has the expected GERMANY import stamp below the frame serial number, as does the 1920s wooden bottom magazine, however, with Germany being stamped on wood, it could be either an import or export stamp. The big mystery is why is the rear link is GERMANY export stamped, and can only be seen by removing the toggle link assembly. The stamp is very small with the upper case letters tightly grouped, placed in the upper rear left side edge of the rear link, above the axle pin hole, very deeply struck, so much so that there is evidence of surface frosting and displaced metal on the upper left top rear surface of the rear link. This is not the first instance of a very small GERMANY “export” stamp seen on a commercial Artillery Luger as one is pictured in LE LUGER, Un pistolet de légend on page 55, coincidently, identified as commercial Artillery Luger 9685.
The uniqueness of the Germany stamped rear link is based on the rear frame cam ramps which show evidence of impact contact, in the form of white metal, with the lower rear area of the toggle knobs, which do not show any similar evidence of impact contact with the frame cam ramps, in other words, the original blue is intact. This suggests, at least, the rear link portion of the toggle link assembly has been changed out, and being export stamped at the source, namely DWM/BKIW, making the rear link a spare part shipped to the USA, i.e. not original to 2504n and apparently was changed/replaced after export to the United States, possibly due to a failure. Since the Artillery rear link replacement is Germany export stamped suggests that it was changed out sometime in the mid to late 1920s. As to whether the rear link is an original WW1 Artillery spare or a new DWM/BKIW 1920s replacement spare is not known, although the fact that the rear link is not serialized certainly characterizes it as a replacement spare, as the rear link is the only component of a 1920s commercial toggle link assembly that is normally stamped with the last two digits of the serial number. It is common knowledge that Luger spare parts were made prior to WW1 as replacement parts for old and new model Lugers, advertised by Hans Tauscher, although no toggle link assembly components, old or new model, have been identified with a Germany import/export stamp. The subject Germany export stamped 2504n Artillery rear link is the first instance of a 1920s Germany stamped Luger spare parts component and the first ever for an Artillery specific component. The replacement spare rear link does not diminish the originality of 2504n as a genuine 1920s Commercial Artillery Luger but only enhances the uniqueness as there are only 2 identified, no serial number, Germany export stamped Artillery rear links, in 1920s made commercial Artillery Lugers 2504n and 9685. Also based on the lack of any corresponding impact on the rear link surface, further substantiates the fact that it is a replacement spare and also based on the pristine condition of the barrel, receiver, and frame that the gun apparently became a collectible soon after the new Germany export stamped Artillery rear link was installed.
The above descriptions and questions, with pictures were posed to Dr. G. L. Sturgess with the following responses.
The gun is modified from a standard P.08, with a replacement barrel and rear link, as the non-matching witness mark between barrel flange and receiver shows, not built from scratch as an LP.08. All similar LP.08s of the period appear to be the same, with replacement barrels and either original spare part LP.08 or modified P.08 rear links. What one cannot tell for sure is who did the re-working. The serial number and proofing indicate that this was the factory, but the GERMANY mark was a US requirement and I believe was applied by the importer on importation, not by DWM before export, as is usually shown by the crazing of the blue around the mark. This could have been the reason for the replacement rear link being marked, by the importer of it as a component – the barrels of similar post WWI commercial LP.08s are also commonly marked GERMANY in a variety of die fonts, for the same reason, as they were imported as components and assembled onto P.08s in the US, but marked on importation as spare parts.
This was how Stoeger offered so many barrel lengths, as they re-barrelled on import according to order, using both German and domestically made barrels, but this gun is not SAFE & LOADED, (not all
early 1920s Stoeger guns are marked both SAFE & LOADED, some are marked SAFE & Gesichert extractor stamped and vice versa) so I do not think it would have been a Stoeger import (as a P.08 originally), since their imports of this period (-n suffix is ca. 1924/25) were the plain SAFE & LOADED guns in 7.65 mm, but rather an import by another grey market dealer, such as Pacific, who was active at the time. Assembly of the gun and export from Germany as a 9/200 mm barrelled gun was prohibited under the Versailles Treaty then, so I have to surmise it was exported as normal 7.65/98 mm P.08, or an un-barrelled gun, and the barrel and rear link were shipped separately, probably via a third party country, such as Switzerland, to be re-assembled on arrival by the US importer, who applied the GERMANY marks to each component shipped as they arrived according to US legal requirements – why the barrel was not marked, I do not know. The GERMANY stamped on the rear link was done under the blue as there is no evidence of crazing or displaced metal around the Germany stamp, there is, however, some slight bulging of metal on top of the rear link, near the Germany stamping. In summary the bluing is original, not a re-blue, making the component a genuine post war “in the white” Artillery rear link spare and Germany export stamped, then blued by DWM/BKIW for shipment to the USA. The lack of a serial number on the rear
link is further evidence of a generic replacement spare part.
The Sturgess explanation for the existence of the subject 2504n commercial Artillery is possible, except for a few unresolved issues. Some critiques of the Sturgess conclusions and observations are, for clarity, imbedded in his comments, highlighted in red. Other comments and thoughts are presented throughout the article in a “stand alone” format.
The gun is modified from a standard P.08, with a replacement barrel and rear link, as the non-matching witness mark between barrel flange and receiver shows, not built from scratch as an LP.08. All similar LP.08s of the period appear to be the same, with replacement barrels and either original spare part LP.08 or modified P.08 rear links. (The fact that the barrel/receiver witness marks are not matching is not always indicative of a barrel replacement as many original Luger barrel/receiver marks are not matching. The barrel witness mark does indicate that it was applied to the barrel flange after the barrel was blued, as indicated by the white metal appearance of the mark.
Pictured side-by-side is the subject 2504n barrel/receiver witness marks compared against another totally original unmodified 1920s SAFE and LOADED Luger 89812 with similar, apparently “non-matching” witness marks. Additionally, not mentioned, is the fact that the 2504n receiver chamber top has a machined step to accommodate the tangent rear sight, making the receiver, also a DWM post war Artillery spare. The circle N DWM factory inspection stamp located on the stop lug, defined by Sturgess to be used on receiver stop lugs beginning in late 1917, supports the LP08 receiver as an un-serialized, not Imperial proofed 1918 military spare as indicated by the single tangent rear site set screw. With that said it is hard to imagine that the barrel and receiver were not assembled as at unit by DWM/BKIW, test fired together, also obviously requiring a toggle link assembly) What one cannot tell for sure is who did the re-working. The serial number and proofing indicate that this was the factory, but the GERMANY mark was a US requirement and I believe was applied by the importer on importation, not by DWM before export, as is usually shown by the crazing of the blue around the mark. (There is no crazing around the rear link “mark” as it was stamped prior to bluing, the frosting and slightly displaced metal is on the top left side rear link surface with the subsequent bluing reacting to the change in the structure of the affected metal.) This could have been the reason for the replacement rear link being marked, by the importer of it as a component – the barrels of similar post WWI commercial LP.08s are also commonly marked GERMANY in a variety of die fonts, for the same reason, as they were imported as components and assembled onto P.08s in the US, but marked on importation (meaning export marked at the source, prior to importation) as legitimate spare parts.
This was an extension of the practice of the period whereby finished, proofed and serialled, but un-barrelled, New Models were shipped to Switzerland to be fitted with Swiss made barrels, as e.g. the A&F pistols. The export of the 9/200 mm barrel from Germany was illegal, but its import to the USA from another country was not, so I assume a third party cut-out was used in another country, quite probably Switzerland, and the barrels were simply smuggled by land over the border – lots of such things went on in Switzerland at the time to get various German made weapons to illegal (for German direct export) destinations. That is the most likely provenance for this gun, and explains why the link was marked, but the omission from the barrel is not really significant. (if the entire gun consisted of two items 1), the barrel and 2), the rest, consisting of the frame/receiver/toggle link assembly, then, as exported to the USA only the frame or the barrel, not necessarily both, needed an import stamp and not the rear link).
Another factor that errs toward the 1924-1926 manufacture of this gun is the DWM factory markings on the 2504n breechblock rear face and the extractor underside rear tang, being, in this instance, a two-digit number 13. This factory numbering system was instituted in the immediate post war years, starting in 1919/1920 and continuing through to about 1928 with the earliest serial number example being 75948, a Swiss Basel Police Luger and into the four-digit T suffix serial number range. The early post war 1919-1921 commercial Luger breechblock/extractor numbers do not always agree, for unknown reasons, but mostly do agree, coinciding with the change from the five digit serial number system to the four-digit letter suffix system of which the 2504n commercial Luger is in the middle of the 1919-1928 time frame. Pictured is a table showing several examples.
Another interesting aspect of 2504n is the wooden bottom magazine, which at first glance, appears to be a typical 1920s Germany export stamped Erfurt made magazine, but after a closer examination, it turns out to have two Imperial army inspection marks. These crown-over-Gothic letter inspection marks are found only on Erfurt magazines. The two stampings are significant, as the magazine has to be a post war spare that was Imperial inspection stamped, but without an assigned gun serial number that was later 1920s Germany export/import stamped, which in this case, is almost as good a serial number, as the magazine is probably is original to the gun as assembled/exported in the mid 1920s, incidentally, as with all wooden bottoms, with Germany stamped in wood, it is impossible to determine if it was stamped in Germany for export or by the United States, received as an import.
Per G. Sturgess: The two Imperial inspection marks are Erfurt (never DWM) and were only applied to finished serial numbered magazines - armourer's spares (unnumbered) have only one mark, the second was added when the gun was serial numbered and in the finished state, until late in the war when inspection was relaxed and only a single stamp may be found, so I think the original serial number has been removed as all such Imperial inspection stamping ceased in 1918, so the magazine, or at least the base, was made up before the end of WWI.
Sturgess essentially makes the same assertions in Pistole Parabellum, volume three, Chapter Fifty, page 1453, figure 1385 where he pictures several Erfurt magazines, one identified with the specific caption: Above, right: an un-numbered Erfurt magazine with a single inspector’s mark, which was either an armourer’s replacement or issued as a spare magazine for the LP08. Conspicuously absent in figure 1385 is an example of a two inspection mark, un-numbered Erfurt spare.
Contrary to the explanation put forth by Sturgess, claiming that the LP08 Erfurt magazine that came with 2504n has been tampered with, there is no evidence, as Sturgess suggests that a serial number was removed from the 2504n Erfurt magazine wooden bottom, then over stamped by GERMANY and that the magazine body is Erfurt, which is correct, based on the follower button style, despite the pin being not possibly original, although, both the magazine body and wooden bottom are correct for an Erfurt magazine.
Additionally, there is no doubt as to the existence of this dual Imperial army crown inspection stamped Erfurt variation as evidenced in another identical, however significantly, un-serial numbered Erfurt example, identified as number 1, except with no wooden bottom GERMANY import stamp, clearly not exhibiting any evidence of a removed serial number, nor tampering, with original pin, the wooden bottom never having been stamped with a serial number.
Since the original spare, un-serial numbered LP08 replacement rear link Germany stamp is under the blue, it was, therefore, not stamped in the USA and since this particular, extremely small 6.75mm x 2.25mm size and style, tightly grouped GERMANY stamp is unique and at this point, only identified in this location, found on only two guns, both commercial Artillery Lugers and has not been identified on any other Luger variation rear link, therefore, one has to conclude it is unique to a few early to mid-1920s 4-digit, with or without letter suffix serial numbered commercial Artillery Lugers, specific to the rear link.
In the same early 1920s time frame Stoeger contract guns were being received in the USA with an 11.5mm x 1.5mm GERMANY export mark stamped on the receiver left side, some through the blue, and some under the blue, therefore, those under-the-blue GERMANY stamped examples being applied by DWM/BKIW, along with the A.F. Stoeger two line stamping, prior to bluing the receiver. Whatever explanation can be made for the “under the blue” Stoeger stamping can be applied to the Artillery rear link stamping. And if one adheres to the theory that the purpose of the GERMANY export stamp is to indicate the country of origin, to be clearly visible, without dismantling the pistol, then the export stamped rear link assembly was imported, to the United States, as a separate component or a component parts assembly, meaning the final assembly of the gun occurred in the United States. It is hard to imagine though, that the barrel with the “under the blue” crown N nitro proof was not done by mating, at least the barrel and receiver, in Germany by DWM/BKIW.
Notwithstanding the mystery GERMANY stamped, “concealed” location on the post war spare Artillery, no serial number rear link, the 2504n commercial Artillery Luger is proofed and serial number stamped (through the blue) and Crown N nitro proofed (both barrel and receiver under the blue) in the same locations as the above described 1920s SAFE and LOADED 89812, 30 Cal 98mm barrel Luger, in addition both frames are import stamped under the frame serial number. With that said it is much easier to conclude that, for whatever reason, commercial crown N nitro proofed Artillery Luger 2504n, managed to escape the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles, exported to the United States in the mid-1920s, fully assembled and GERMANY import stamped upon arrival.
1920s commercial Artillery Luger 2504n is the closest one can come in defining a 1920s non-Stoeger commercial Artillery Luger and as such the invariable conclusion reached is that 2504n is considered to be a genuine 1920s assembled commercial Artillery Luger, regardless what convoluted assembly path it took.
Although not acquired until 1921, the commercially marked Basel Police Lugers likely were manufactured in 1919 or 1920, before the IMKK barrel restrictions went into effect. Weimar and Early NAZI Lugers by Jan C. Still, copyright © 1993 page 255, Appendix A: Basel Police Lugers.
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