At the peak of pre-WW1 DWM Luger commercial production, the Americas, particularly the United States, was one of the largest importers for the Luger with South America being the second largest importer. The demand was sufficient for DWM to publish an incredibly early 1902 Spanish language version of the instruction manual, in addition to the German, English and French versions. Argentina in particular was enamored of anything European and the DWM manufactured Luger was no exception. Many of the items discussed in this article came out of Argentina. Spain had its own munitions industry and as such was not a major importer of DWM Lugers or munitions as these manuals and other items have mostly been located in South America.
The Commercial Parabellum in Argentina
Very early production new model, sn25210, commercial luger.
The South American demand for Luger ammunition, Cal 9mm in particular, extended into the 1930s. The demand was great enough for the newly 1936 reconstituted DWM, Deutsch Waffen- u. Munitionsfabriken A.- G. to manufacture Spanish labeled 9mm ammunition, first in Karlsruhe and later in Berlin-Borsigwalde. Four boxes of this 1930s Spanish language labeled Parabellum ammunition were obtained from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 9mm Luger pistol was never used in any quantity in South America save for perhaps a few hundred for the Bolivian Luger. Therefore, it has been suggested that the demand for this particular Spanish labeled 9mm ammunition was used for the Bergmann sub machine gun models MP/18-I and MP/28 II in the 1930s during the Gran Chaco War. This war was between Bolivia and Paraguay.
DWM Luger 7,65mm ammunition was also supplied or sold to South America prior to WWI. One known South American importer was Carlos Rasetti, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina at 526 Rivadavia. DWM 7,65mm ammunition with Carlos Rasetti labels affixed have been located, some dated as early as 1906. There is one known 9000 serial number range old model 30 cal Luger with a hand engraved Carlos Rasetti name and address. Another lesser known importer was Juan Canedo, also of Buenos Aires. Interestingly, J. Canedo marked guns survive, such as the early production new model luger, sn25210, shown at the top of the page, the old model luger, sn 21306, with a hand engraving and a Fosbery, sn 38 shown below. The old model luger and the Fosbery are of the G. Sturgess collection.
Old model luger, sn 21306.
Fosbery, sn 38.
There is a presentation cased carbine, serial number 24706 with the J. Canedo name and address stamped on the barrel identical to 25210 featured herein. The presentation case is with accessories and is all leather with a
brass plaque affixed with the following information.
Coronel Carlos Sarmiento
Recuerdo de M. Lidela
Unfortunately pictures were not available for this article. Per Luger barrel stampings, J. Canedo was located at 611 Rivadavia, Bs. Aires. Curiously, only a few street numbers away from Carlos Rasetti. There are surviving Luger and non-Luger ammunition packages with the J. Canedo label.
The firm of Carlos Rasetti was located in Buenos Aires at 526 Rivadavia from the mid 19th century (founded 1857) through the 1930s. Rassetti was not a small time operation as there was a French Rasetti factory as shown in a rare 1931 Rasetti catalog. The Carlos Rasetti label found on boxes of ammunition, DWM and other German manufacturers state they were imported through their French factory “ARMERIA DE PARIS” as early as 1906. It has been reported that Carlos Rasetti closed its doors in the early 1960s.
The J. Canedo label translates or can be interpreted as: Casa Canedo is the store front dealing in armaments and knives with the controlling company and/or manufacturer Gottling and Busch also operating in Bs Aires. Gottling and Busch is a local firm but it could have a parent company in Europe or it could have a similar factory in Europe.
The trail of the Rasetti label DWM ammo starts with:
- DWM in Berlin, next stop possibly through Rasetti's Paris facility (although I believe both Rasetti and Canedo were general retailers dealing in armaments, sort of like Sears in the USA) then on to the Bs Aires address.
- It was shipped directly to Rasetti's store in Bs Aires where the label was affixed.
- Or the scenario for Canedo labeled DWM and other ammo would be similar. The Rasetti facility in Paris was there before WWI as the box is dated 1906 with the Rasetti label stating Armeria de Paris. Sounds like Rasetti had an armament factory in Paris if you believe the label.
The DW&MK seal is from approx 1897 - 1905 located on a commercial ammo carton imported by Carlos Rasetti, most commonly on 7.63mm Mauser and 7.65 mm Mannlicher 20 shot. The abbreviation DW&MK was the early form of DWM, standing for the full name of the original ammo factory in German, Deutsches Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken, Karlsruhe which became shortened to the handier form of DWM in the early 1900's, though you still see DW&M used into the 1920's in correspondence. These seals were used on some very early Mauser cartons, which had no other caliber etc. label, and were the sole identifier of the maker, since some of this very early ammo was unheadstamped also. Therefore, Rassetti was importing ammunition before DWM came into being.