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Unread 10-06-2020, 12:36 PM   #1
spacecoast
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Default Old Model Swiss Commercial #513

I'm the proud new owner of an early Old Model Commercial Luger configured with the Swiss Cross and the serial number 513. This is a relieved frame gun, and in a separate thread I am going to compare/contrast it with my relieved frame Swiss Military Contract #555 and speculate whether #513 started out with an unrelieved frame, or was manufactured with a relieved frame. I think I have good reason to believe the latter, even though there are later unrelieved Swiss Commercials.

This beautiful Luger was purchased from a forum member (not sure if Dennis is an active member of this forum or just the other one). The small parts (toggle pins, front sight blade and grip screws) retain their fire blue finish that is very hard to photograph. The blued finish is so nice, even on the grip straps, that it would lead one to speculate that it may have been "arsenal refinished", but I'm not sure that happened with Commercial guns or not. The markings all look very sharp to me. The DWM stamped on the toggle is light, which is the same with #555 and is typical of the very early guns. In any event, I am very pleased. It came with an Old Model "flaming bomb" magazine that is coveted by some and is I believe proper for this gun, as opposed to the silver button magazines supplied with the military guns.

Some pictures...
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My avatars are the Bulgarian word for "Fire", as seen on my 1900, 1906 and 1908 Bulgarian Contract DWM Lugers.

Looking for a DWM Commercial side plate #95
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Unread 10-06-2020, 01:18 PM   #2
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That is indeed a beauty. You have every reason to be proud of it.
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Unread 10-06-2020, 02:56 PM   #3
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Beauty in steel. I would imagine made in the first week of production.

G2
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Unread 10-06-2020, 03:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
I would imagine made in the first week of production.
I guess I would be a little disappointed if I thought they could crank out 500 or more of these works of art in a week. You may be completely right, but by early 1904 they were up to the Bulgarian contract with serials of 20001-21000, which would imply about 20,000 guns in three years +/-, or about 130 per week at a constant rate.
Of course, there were other contract guns also running in production.

G&S project the following timeline by serial number:

Q1/1901 - Swiss Military 1-200 and Commercial 1-200
Q2/1901 - Swiss Military 200-400 and Commercial 200-400
Q2-3/1901 - Swiss Military 400-600 and Commercial 400-1000
Q3-4/1901 - Commercial 1000-5000
Q4/1901 - Swiss Military 600-1800 and 597E-610E

The 5,000 guns of the initial Swiss Military contract were not finished until 1904 (according to G&S). By the end of 1905, all of the Old Models were completed (30,000 or a little more) - in the first 5 years of production. This would support ~100 per week, but was backloaded to 1902-05 as they got better at it and numbered fewer parts.
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My avatars are the Bulgarian word for "Fire", as seen on my 1900, 1906 and 1908 Bulgarian Contract DWM Lugers.

Looking for a DWM Commercial side plate #95
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Unread 10-06-2020, 11:35 PM   #5
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Well, if it's the first week or first month, a fabulous gun.

G2
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Unread 10-06-2020, 11:58 PM   #6
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A gorgeous Luger!
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Unread 10-07-2020, 11:05 AM   #7
Ron Wood
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That is the way we like them, and a scarce Commercial to boot...good going! I suspect there is a decent possibility that it was originally unrelieved as I think that might be right around the serial number range where the transition took place but unfortunately don't have any concrete evidence. I suspect you have already seen the frame comparison photo that I did quite some time ago. I look forward to hearing about your "compare/contrast" analysis.
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Unread 10-07-2020, 12:05 PM   #8
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Thanks Ron, I posted a thread on the other forum last night showing some pictures of my frame(s) and speculating that this commercial may have been manufactured with a relieved frame - although there are unrelieved commercials with later numbers.

Do you think it was a hard or soft cutover... I can't see why they would have been doing it both ways, unless they somehow got out of serial order during manufacturing and it just looks that way.
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My avatars are the Bulgarian word for "Fire", as seen on my 1900, 1906 and 1908 Bulgarian Contract DWM Lugers.

Looking for a DWM Commercial side plate #95
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Unread 10-07-2020, 12:28 PM   #9
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Congratulations, a gorgeous example, looks like the one I owned.
Mine was s/n 763 with a low button too.
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Unread 10-07-2020, 02:20 PM   #10
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Thanks Sergio, I will add yours to the "unrelieved frame" list. That is a beautiful example as well.

Oops... never mind... it's already there.

Mark
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My avatars are the Bulgarian word for "Fire", as seen on my 1900, 1906 and 1908 Bulgarian Contract DWM Lugers.

Looking for a DWM Commercial side plate #95
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Unread 10-08-2020, 05:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacecoast View Post
…G&S project the following timeline by serial number:

Q1/1901 - Swiss Military 1-200 and Commercial 1-200
Q2/1901 - Swiss Military 200-400 and Commercial 200-400
Q2-3/1901 - Swiss Military 400-600 and Commercial 400-1000
Q3-4/1901 - Commercial 1000-5000
Q4/1901 - Swiss Military 600-1800 and 597E-610E

The 5,000 guns of the initial Swiss Military contract were not finished until 1904 (according to G&S). By the end of 1905, all of the Old Models were completed (30,000 or a little more) - in the first 5 years of production. This would support ~100 per week, but was backloaded to 1902-05 as they got better at it and numbered fewer parts.
Sturgess’s serial number conclusions should be viewed with scepticism. Notwithstanding his fantastic “out of sequence” serial numbering theories, even his own assertions are inconsistent from section to section of his book (compare the table above to his table of “Established Dates” on p.315, red edition). Sturgess’s own text contradicts the above table, when he asserts that commercial Parabellum production did not begin until after the first 600 gun of the Swiss contract were delivered (I haven’t been able to retrieve the direct citation, still looking).

A systematic production timeline is much less cut-and-dried. The Parabellum was accepted by the Swiss on May 4 1900, and the production order was confirmed in August 1900. This is the absolute start date of any possible Pistole Parabellum production.

According to Sturgess’s documentation production pistols were inspected (with some rejects) between Feb. 1901 and the first 600 pistol delivery in June 1901, but his presentation is too confused to tease out an actual production sequence. Estimates of a starting date or early production numbers of commercial Parabellums must be purely conjectural.

What can be said, is that between the beginning of commercial production and October 1901 there were at least 6,167 produced. Sn 6167 is the lowest documented Bannerman test eagle serial number; these pistols were delivered on Oct. 26, 1901. The U.S. test delivery was split into two parts—correspondence between DWM’s agent Hans Tauscher and the U.S. Army indicates the second shipment had to wait until pistol production was completed.

Although Old Model production carries on through Bulgrian, carbine, and short-frame pistols, there are no actual associated production dates on record. Even the short frame test pistols and Powell cartridge-counters are known by delivery or test year rather than actual production.

The end of Old Model production can most likely be dated to late 1904. Sturgess asserts the French transitional and the navy P04 carry trials pistols (both Old Model frame types) to be concurrent production; the navy pistols were ready for trials by August, 1904.

The highest Old Model serial numbers reported are a carbine sn 25032 and a French transitional sn 25035. The first delivery of the new model production navy P04 was March 1906; New Model commercial production could not have occurred before that, and commercial production carried on with the earliest reported sn 25056.

Therefore, DWM underwent a 19 month production hiatus after August , 1904. It is true that DWM provided pistols for various military trials after that date, but these had already been manufactured, and perhaps modified for the purpose.

I wouldn’t go so far as to estimate a production number per week, there are too many possible variables.

“…backloaded to 1902-05 as they got better at it and numbered fewer parts…” I don’t understand your meaning here. And what parts did they stop numbering?

--Dwight
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Unread 10-09-2020, 05:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwight Gruber View Post
. . .

The end of Old Model production can most likely be dated to late 1904. Sturgess asserts the French transitional and the navy P04 carry trials pistols (both Old Model frame types) to be concurrent production; the navy pistols were ready for trials by August, 1904.

The highest Old Model serial numbers reported are a carbine sn 25032 and a French transitional sn 25035. The first delivery of the new model production navy P04 was March 1906; New Model commercial production could not have occurred before that, and commercial production carried on with the earliest reported sn 25056.

. . .

--Dwight


I'm sure this is accurate for the most part, and I genuinely appreciate Dwight's deep knowledge of production serial numbers and delivery dates. We all benefit when Dwight shares his knowledge and research.

But let's not forget the last short run of carbines in the 50000 to 50100 s/n block. These were produced/assembled at a much later date than 1904. As such, they are the very last production run of old models, and they bear the highest serial numbers. I know these are outliers, but they exist.

I'm bold enough to say that my carbine (the carbine of which I now am the custodian), s/n 50100, is nominally the last carbine, but also nominally the last old model Parabellum produced.

http://forum.lugerforum.com/showthread.php?t=38690

Fascinating facts. That's why they hold the interest of collectors.

Curl

P.S. My carbine is a Swiss, so it's very much at home in the Swiss Lugers forum!


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Unread 10-09-2020, 07:55 AM   #13
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Roscoe,

Thanks for your comments and thank you very much for the reminder of the excellent earlier discussion.

--Dwight
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