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Article created: Friday, May 06, 2005
Article modified: Friday, Sept 9, 2005

Hans Tauscher article


                                        Hans Tauscher catalog                                       

 

In the early years of the 20th century one relatively small area of lower Manhattan in New York City was the scene of intense activity, diversity, concentration and constant migration of gun dealers. Most of the New York City gun dealers from the tens, twenties and thirties were located in lower Manhattan with a number of them being in the financial district. They were all in close proximity to one another, about a stop or two on the subway or a walk of ten or twelve minutes.

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is defined as the district south of 14th Street and upper Manhattan is located north of 14th Street. The gun dealers more than likely chose lower Manhattan for several reasons. Firstly, the lower area gave good access to the Custom House and the docks because these firearms were being imported. Many times the dealers were filling out forms and picking merchandise up at the various piers. Equally important, rents were much lower than uptown. The following background information is presented to give the reader a sense of the level of activity in this area.

To the Luger collector, particularly the United States Luger collector, the most famous dealer of this era was Hans Tauscher, who is the focus of this article. The first documented Hans Tauscher location as a DWM agent was at 10-12 Thomas Street from 1906 to at least 1909, based on surviving correspondence. Additional 1908 U.S. Army correspondence dated June 10, 1908 indicates a yet earlier address for Hans Tauscher at 56-58 Pine Street, New York City. This correspondence with the U.S. Army concerning the order of the 50 9mm Cartridge Counter Lugers states that Tauscher was at this 56-58 Pine Street address as of 1903 when the pistols were ordered. This very early circa 1903 56-58 Pine Street location was also very near Tauscher’s most recognizable address of 320 Broadway, and the first A.H. Funke 325 Broadway address was just across the street. 83 Chambers Street, the next location of A.H. Funke, is also very close to 320 Broadway. The Jenkins Corporation was located at 621 Broadway around 1928 and was located at 653 Broadway in the 1930's. J.L. Galef was also on 75 Chambers Street. As of 1903 Abercrombie & Fitch was located at 314 and 316 Broadway; however the May 1909 issue of Field & Stream shows Abercrombie & Fitch’s address to be 57 Reade Street.

    
The Auto-Ordnance Corp. that exported and dealt in the Thompson Guns was located at 302 Broadway. Schoverling, Daly & Gales was on Broadway at 302-304, at the corner of Duane Street in 1902 per a May1902 Shooting and Fishing magazine ad.

       

Upper Manhattan

Von Lengerke & Detmold was located at 318 Madison Avenue in 1902 and later at 349 Madison Avenue per a 1925-26 catalog. The only uptown dealers were Stoeger, initially at 606 W. 49th Street and later at 224 E. 42nd Street. A 1930 Stoeger catalog lists an address of 509 Fifth Avenue and yet another 1940 Stoeger catalog shows an address of 507 Fifth Avenue. Much later a dealer known as Continental Arms appears on Fifth Avenue. The west coast and some mid-west states had Luger and Mauser dealers, the most notable being Pacific Arms Corp. and of course the Luger Sales Co., at 828 George Street, Chicago in 1923. P. Von Frantzius was at the same 828 George Street, Chicago address two years earlier per a December 1921 National Sportsman magazine ad. Interestingly, the 1923 and 1924 P. Von Frantzius catalogs have a Chicago address at 608 Diversity Parkway.

A small sample of the many Luger advertisements found in many early 20th century sporting and outdoor periodicals can be seen in this “slide show”.

                                        

Hans Tauscher, New York City. Tauscher originally worked for Hermann Boker & Co. selling C93 Borchardt Repeating Pistols from 101 Duane Street and representing Deutsch Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) at the US Army trials. About 1899, Tauscher started out on his own, acquiring the DWM agency and originally operating out of rooms 1217-1218, 320 Broadway (P.O. Box 1605), New York City.

Hans Tauscher is most noted for his involvement with the United States Army representing Deutsches Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) and Georg Luger in the Years 1900 though 1907 in promoting the sale of 1000 U.S. Test Eagle Lugers in 1901, 50 9 mm Cartridge Counter Lugers in 1903-1904 and the final abortive attempts in 1907 with the 45 caliber Luger to get the United States Army to accept the Luger as their official sidearm. This is supported by numerous documented surviving archival correspondences between Hans Tauscher and the United States War Department. Several examples of this correspondence are cited in an excellent publication titled “U.S. Military Automatic Pistols” by Edward Scott Meadows.

Apparently Tauscher had a different address in 1906 as indicated in “A pamphlet about the Luger automatic carbine produced by Tauscher in 1906, shortly after he had moved to Thomas Street, New York….” H. Tauscher’s correspondence with the 10-12 Thomas Street, dated 1908, survives. This address was apparently a temporary office as indicated by the subject 1-page flier. The Parabellum industry passed to Stoeger at the end of the war but Tauscher’s agency remained in business at 320 Broadway until at least 1918 per War Department correspondence. Walters states that Tauscher remained in business at 342 Madison Avenue until c. 1938, which is not completely accurate and will be discussed further into this article.

Further research presented herein has identified two additional Hans Tauscher agency addresses that were heretofore not known to have existed. The December 1911 issue of Field and Stream on page 26a shows a Hans Tauscher advertisement with an address of 322 Broadway. The April 1914 issue of Outdoor Life on page 12a shows another advertisement with yet another a Hans Tauscher address of 324 Broadway. This is the first instance of Tauscher advertising in a magazine. Neither address lists a P.O. Box.

The specific subject of this article is original circa 1913 Hans Tauscher documents, including a cover letter personally signed by Hans Tauscher, a 25-page Hans Tauscher general sales catalog, variation 1a originally folded lengthwise to fit in a standard 9-½” x 4-1/8” envelope. The envelope is addressed to “Mr.W.A. Swenson, Box 925, Gladstone, Mich.” The upper left corner of the envelope with the return address is missing; however the return address is New York. The envelope has a preapplied and cancelled 4-cent stamp and is USPS stamped “HUDSON TERM. STA.5, DEC 10 12 M 1913, N.Y.”. The final item is an 8-½” x 4” Mannlicher Schoenauer Rifle ad which was also in the envelope.

The address on the envelope is the same name and address as the one on the Tauscher letter conveying the catalog. The letter is dated 12/10/13. The postmark is the same date. Tauscher at that time was at 320 Broadway. This Broadway location is in very close proximity to Hudson Street in New York City, which would comport with the post office (Hudson Terminal Station) that postmarked the letter.

Original Hans Tauscher correspondence is seldom seen today. It is exceptionally uncommon to find a personally signed Hans Tauscher letter or document, as most surviving examples use a stamp. Also the address states “rooms 1217-1220”, and indicates an expansion of two rooms as of 1913. A Hans Tauscher 1-page pink flyer advertising Haenel Mannlicher Repeating Rifles mailed in a 1908-dated Hans Tauscher envelope does show an address indicating only rooms 1217-1218.

The 1913-dated letter states that enclosed is “my latest catalog” and suggests earlier sales catalogs, of which another “earlier” or different variation does exist. Based on the subject letter and the enclosed “latest catalog” statement, one has to assume it to be the earlier or first Hans Tauscher general sales catalog, until one of these catalogs are located with associated dated material.

These general sales catalogs are not to be confused with the two known variations of the Hans Tauscher Luger instruction manuals. The later general sales catalog with the Mauser scoped rifle on the cover appears to be the more “common” or frequently encountered catalog. Additionally, one cannot use the covers of the two identified Han Tauscher general sales catalogs (one with a New Model Luger on the cover and the other with a rifle on the cover) as a basis to determine which was printed first, since Hans Tauscher was placing advertisements in magazines advertising exclusively the Old Model Luger as late as December 1911. A few of these catalogs survive today and three of these are illustrated in the catalog directory of this site, however until this discovery the subject catalog was thought by the author to be published earlier, say circa 1908. The contents of all three examples are identical. However, it is the front cover information of each three examples in the Land of Borchardt (LOB) collection regarding the address (or the lack thereof) that are rather contradictory in establishing the variation or date of printing.

The circa 1913 catalog variation 1a, identified by Tauscher in his letter as his “latest” catalog, lacks the agency address whereas the variation 1b catalog has an added ink stamped address of “H.TAUSCHER-320 BROADWAY,-NEW YORK CITY” without the P.O. Box number and the variation 1c catalog cover printed with the full agency address. A reasonable conclusion would be that the “1913” variation 1a catalog without the agency address was printed first, while Tauscher was at the 10-20 Thomas Street temporary address, prior to being located at the 320 Broadway address. The variation 1b with the added abbreviated hand-stamped 320 Broadway address would be considered, for the sake of discussion, the “interim” before an additional final printing of the catalog with the complete address on the cover. Interestingly, all three sales catalogs were sent through the mail as all three have been folded lengthwise.

Based on the above information the time frame established for printing of this “latest” 1a catalog is at least 1908 or earlier, possibly being printed/distributed until 1917. The earliest printing date of the other variation 2 catalog would have to be 1906, since it illustrates a new model Luger on the cover, catalog. This suggests that there was never a Tauscher sales catalog printed before 1906, but only single pages or fliers such as early 3-page fold-out fliers advertising the old model Luger pistol and carbine. If the same reasoning in dating the sales catalog is applied to these fliers then there could have been another Hans Tauscher agency address prior to 10-12 Thomas Street. For example, the 56-58 Pine Street, New York City address mentioned in the U.S. Army correspondence. The other two identical catalogs, one with no address and the other catalog with a blue ink hand stamped “new” address of “10-12 THOMAS STREET” both in the LOB collection of which certain pages are illustrated herein. All these catalogs contain the same items, except for many price increases indicated in the “1913” catalog with purple ink stamped new prices. On two of the three catalogs, page one is ink-stamped with the statement “Prices changed owing to advance in duty from 25% to 35%.”

Another method that can be used to date the chronological printing order of the three sales catalogs is the evolution of the price markups found in each catalog. Assuming the price mark ups were done prior to mailing, this method totally contradicts the conclusions of the address method. The price markup method is based on the following: 1) The catalog with no price markup, which has the complete Tauscher address on the front cover, including the well-known, recognized statement; “SOLE AGENT FOR UNITED STATES, CANADA AND MEXICO.” 2) The catalog with a single price markup on several items has no Tauscher address whatsoever on the cover. 3) The catalog with the highest prices with certain items being marked up two times before mailing has the added ink-stamped abbreviated address.

In other words, the catalog stated by Tauscher to be his “latest” is the one with no address and only the single price markup per item. There are definitely two printings of this particular sales catalog, but with virtually identical contents, the only difference being that one has the Hans Tauscher 320 Broadway address on the cover and the other does not. The Hans Tauscher “latest” sales catalog statement may be only in reference to price changes. Interestingly, all three catalogs discussed above have an original printing mistake; 8 mm for .354 caliber vs. 9mm. This was corrected by writing the number “9” over the printed “8” with an ink pen, with two of the three catalogs apparently being changed by the same individual.

HANS TAUSCHER THE SPY

Prior to and during the early part of World War I, before America entered the war, espionage paranoia had reached its zenith, and accusations of German spying were rampant. Hans Tauscher didn’t escape suspicions and accusations, and was arrested and put on trial however. He was never convicted of any crimes of espionage, but was nevertheless “asked” to leave the country.

         

War Department correspondence dated August 6, 1918
from World of Lugers by San Costanzo, Copyright © 1975.

His agency lasted until April 2, 1916 when he was arrested just prior to the American entry into the war (1917), at which point it was placed into the hands of the Alien Property Custodian. War Department correspondence dated 1918 indicates the Tauscher agency was still in existence as late as 1918; “and for your information we would state that Captain Hans Tauscher’s office is still in existence in New York, his general manager, Henry Muck, being present every day.”

The same War Department correspondence places Hans Tauscher in Germany as late as 1921 and there is no documented evidence of his return to America until 1934.

THE HANS TAUSCHER ARMS CORPORATION

As a result of correspondence with the State of New York – Department of State in June 2005 the author was provided with copies of an eight-page original, detailed “Certificate of Incorporation” filed by Hans Tauscher, Marie Brinskele and Benjamin H. Trask. The certificate is accompanied by an official State of New York, Department of State cover letter stating:

“I hereby certify that the records of this department show the THE TAUSCHER H. ARMS CORPORATION Certificate of Incorporation was filed on 08/17/1934.

It was dissolved by proclamation of the Secretary of State published on 12/15/1944 pursuant to the Tax Law and that such dissolution has not been annulled.”

Comparison of the 1913 Hans Tauscher personal signature against the 1934 document signature leave no doubt that it is the same Hans Tauscher. After being out of the public eye for more than a decade Hans Tauscher was not only in business again, but this time as a corporation and not in a small way but with grandiose ambitions as cited in the Certificate of Incorporation.

         

Above H. Tauscher Certification of Incorporation documents obtained through the research
efforts of Theodore Goldenberg, long time collector/dealer in rare collectible paperwork.

It is extremely interesting that Tauscher was allowed to form this massive arms undertaking “on paper” with the state of New York in 1934 and that the corporation stayed intact throughout most of World War II, especially given his background as a German sympathizer and suspected World War I spy. Equally amazing is that there is no evidence of existence of The Hans Tauscher Corporation except the original Certificate of Corporation document. No products, literature or documents have ever surfaced.

Assuming Hans Tauscher was about 25 years old in 1897 when he first surfaced as the DWM representative demonstrating the 1893 C93 Borchardt to the U.S. Army, he would have been 64 years old in 1934 and 74 (if still alive) by the dissolution of “The Corporation” in 1944.

As with Hugo Borchardt, there are no known pictures of Hans Tauscher, or any record of his death.

Authors Note: Since this article was written, several original pictures of Hans Tauscher, some of Tauscher and his wife Mme. Gadski, have been found and added to the collection. Click here to go to latest Hans Tauscher article.