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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are all familiar with "two-date" or "double date" Lugers. They are erroneously called this because of the Weimar property stamp instituted in 1920, that number being stamped, usually above a preexisting date, on the receiver top of a Luger.

There are, however, in the 1910 Marking Instructions for the P-08, provisions for the application of two different manufacturing date stamps on a Luger. Instruction 3 states, "Receiver, hardened: [receives a] 3.2mm inspector's mark, plus the year of manufacture (3.2mm high, 9mm wide)." (Görtz & Bryans, "German Small Arms Markings", p. 111) This means that the first markings applied to the receiver were the leftmost inspector's stamp and the date, before bluing or any other assembly.

Note 4 of the same document states, "Receivers from reserve stocks, where the year of manufacture does not correspond with the year of completion of the weapon, will receive a 2.1mm-high correction for the year of completion behind the manufacture-year in fractional form. For example: 1909/13." (ibid, p. 114)



Presented here is Erfurt serial# 8895s, chamber stamped 1917/18 indicating a receiver fabricated in 1917 but not assembled into a Luger until 1918. It is all matching including the grips (but not the magazine). The small parts are inspector stamped as expected except for the grip screws. Examination and reporting reveals that sometime in the last years of production Erfurt ceased marking these screws.

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Numbers and markings on this Luger have been filled with white LaquerStik® to increase their visibility. While I don't much care for the effect on my own Lugers, it does seem necessary for good interpretive photography, so I give up. The GESICHERT safety stamp was originally filled with white material, which has faded and discolored over the years.

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As you can see, it appears to be an otherwise unremarkable late-war Erfurt. It displays many of the manufacturing and quality shortcuts taken near the end of WWI. These are mostly difficult to see in these photos, look for unsmoothed machining marks on the frame ears and in the hollow for the trigger guard, also poorly chamfered edges and, particularly, rough beveling around the face of the takedown lever.The toggle grips are clumsily checkered, as well.

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The grips are numbered to the gun. They appear to be wood of some lighter shade, softer than walnut. The number stamps make a very soft-edged, 'smushy' impression--they look sharper in the photos than they do to the eye.

This Luger also has some noteworthy details. Both the barrel inspector's stamp and the receiver hardness stamp are surmounted with the c/RC Revisions-Commission stamp. This in itself is not unusual--many Erfurt P-08 have this stamp in these locations--but I believe they will be significant to the story of this gun.

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Imperial military Lugers are characterized by having the letter suffix stamped under the barrel serial# as well as the frame. It is missing on this gun. I believe I have read that this was not always present on Lugers produced near the war's end, but I cannot find this reference.

The barrel and receiver of this Luger seem to have been very heavily 'worked'. There is a minute amount of 'halo' present around the barrel numbers, but it also appears that the barrel has been subjected to heavy-handed wire-brushing--carding? or grinding?--which has partially worn the numbers, removed much of the blue from the barrel, and compromised the smoothmess and line of the barrel surface. I would normally suspect that this was done by some post-war owner, but it is somewhat consistent with what are patently machining marks. The effect is extremely difficult to see in these pictues.



The heraldic eagle barrel firing proof has been multiple-stamped, or perhaps, it took three attempts to make a complete stamp. The two marks above the eagle's head appear to be two stamps of the eagle's left wing tip.



The left receiver serial# (here unfilled) shows distinct halo. It has overstamped an extremely light first stamping of the same numbers.



That all these barrel and receiver characteristics are authentic is strongly suggested by this Luger's perfect witness mark.

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Disassembling this Luger reveals its other major oddity. The forward and rear toggle links are both stampe 44 on their bottom surface. Letter and symbol inspector stamps are accounted for in the marking instructions and appear on this gun as expected; the 44s are a mystery.

I acquired this gun as a "rig": 1918 holster, takedown tool, two magazines.

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Of course, a matching-date holster does not a 'rig' make. Holster "rigness" only comes about with an actual identity match provided by something like matching unit marks (down to the weapon number). Nonetheless, it makes a terrific ensemble.

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The holster is 1918 dated, manufactured by Hans Röhmer GmbH & Co., Neu-Ulm stamped under the flap. This company made holsters for P-08 and LP-08 from 1915-1918, and was again engaged in Luger holster manufacture 1937-1941. Röhmer also made cartridge pouches, belts, map cases, and saddlery 1934-1945 (Walter, "The Luger Book"). The holster flap has illegible ink markings.

The leather of this holster is in good shape, but it has been repaired with rather more good intention than ability.



The takedown tool is marked with an Imperial inspector's stamp.



The magazine purportedly is matching, and indeed has the proper number, but close examination reveals that the spine-side face has been shaved or sanded, partially obliterating the letter suffix, spare magazine +, and inspector's stamp. It is extremely difficult to tell by eye, but the photo makes it fairly clear that the letter suffix is t.

Conclusions and questions

Two-date Lugers are extremely uncommon. In "Imperial Lugers" Jan Still presented 1917/18 Erfurt serial# 8825s (p. 78), noting that it was at that time (1991) the only one reported. Since then an Erfurt 1914/18, serial# 7872(probably no suffix) has surfaced quite recently ( http://www.gunboards.com/luger/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2297 ), and about a year and a half ago I saw a triple-date Erfurt (two-date with property mark) for sale on Gunsamerica--I didn't record the manufacture dates, and it sold just before I came up with the money...

There are two other Lugers recorded, which may or may not relate to these Imperial guns. In Still's "Weimar Lugers" 1993, pp. 76, 82 there is an Erfurt serial# 6331t, dated 1918/20 with a Weimar property stamp (it has a number of other strange stamps which are not germane to the date topic). And in Auto Mag August 2003 p.106, Dick Paysor reports an Erfurt, 1918/20 serial# 262 (ns). (It is interesting that Paysor reports the grip screws are inspector stamped.) I can't begin to speculate about these two Lugers, their origin or why someone felt bound to date stamp them in this way.

When I knew the details of only two Imperial two-dates, mine and the gun pictued in "Imperial Lugers", I began to wonder about their place in Erfurt production and their meaning to that production. These two guns have an s serial# suffix, very near the end of production, and are in fact only 70 guns apart--it is highly likely they were manufactured the same day.

The actual end of Erfurt production seems slightly murky. "Imperial Lugers" has production ending at war's end in November 1918 with an estimated year's production of up to 175,000 guns, the reported serial# range ending with 7538t (table, p.15). The same table, however, lists "less than three" samples reported in the u serial# range. I posed the question about this, and asked for reports of u-suffix 1918 Erfurts in on-line forums. The only response I recieved referred to a 1918-dated Erfurt seral# 1102u, described in Auto Mag, Jan. 1998, pp237-240. The correspondent did not quote the article, but did report the possibility that Weimar assembly or rerwork was involved. The article also posed the speculation that u-suffix Erfurts were in assembly racks when WWI ended and the doors closed, and that completed guns may represent "Imperial-Weimar transition pieces".

Reports of 1918 Erfurt P-08 with u-suffix serial numbers would be useful.

My curiosity not satisfied, I performed an arithmetic exercise. This should probably be considered a speculative diversion, being based on statistical analysis rather than research and documentation.

According to "Imperial Lugers", approximately 175,000 Erfurt P-08 were manufactured in 1918. WWI ended during the second week of November 1918, so if we accept that production ended with the Armistice that meams Erfurts were produced for 46 weeks that year. There are several serial# suffixes which have no reported guns, but the s and t ranges seem to be populated. If we divide the estimated production by 46 weeks, we come up with a 1918 production of about 3,800 guns per week. If for the sake of discussion we assume that the s and t serial#s were completely filled out, it is likely that this Erfurt Luger serial# 8895s--as well as the two-date # 8825s--were manufactured within three weeks of the end of WWI.

My final comments should be considered WAG speculation.

Discussing #8825s in "Imperial Lugers" Jan Still comments, "As Luger receivers were batch assembled and year-end production overlap must have been common, it is surprising that this is the only such marked Imperial double-date reported."

I have to wonder if another conclusion might be warrented. With over a million DWM and Erfurt P-08 and LP-08 manufactured for the German Army, it astonishing that there are not more of these two-date examples reported. It may be that this is a demonstration of a manufacturing system which was so well-controlled that there was virtually no year-end receiver production overlap.

The evidence in steel of the two-date Lugers reported here may suggest another origin.

All the reported examples are Erfurts. All the guns except one (unknown) are Revisions-Commission marked over the receiver hardness inspection. Three of the four wartime produced guns are completed in 1918 (the fourth is unknown), but of different origin dates.

This suggests that, in the Erfurt factory, some receivers which passed the Revisions-Commission were so marginal that they were held back, out of the production stream. In 1918 the need for guns was so desperate that they pressed even these parts into service.

Since none of the two-date examples are DWM Lugers, I have to wonder if this is another example of regulations (like the inspectors' stamps) which Erfurt followed precisely and DWM ignored.

Thats all that crosses my mind for now.

--Dwight
 

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Dwight

Excellent photo presentation of your double date Erfurt, you have spent considerable research time already on this unit as evident by your detailed post. Very good work. Should I come across any others you will be notified.
 

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Recently got my first Luger-it is a matching Erfurt with a 1918/20 date stamp serial numbered 986u - looks to have both the imperial crowns and Weimar Eagle on it - no markings on the grip screws, but plenty of imperial inspectors stamps on the other matching pieces- fairly nicely machined-no unit markings on the grip frame-if it were a transition piece assembled post war, I would be surprised to see the imperial crown inspectors marks being used as opposed to Weimar markings. Perhaps the Erfurt assembly lines were slow to shut down after the Armistice?
 

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Hello-I will have to figure out how to master the sizing of digital photography-will attempt pics soon- the pistol is a 1918/20 and not a 1920 over the 1918 date like some others-after looking at some other pics on your great site-the crown and eagle proofs look rather typical of other 1918 Erfurts other than the slash/ date-the font on the 20 is slightly smaller than the original 1918 date-
 

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Ed & Dwight,

I have a DWM Artillery 1918 and also stamped 1920.
As you requested I have attached (8) photos.
1- Top

Download Attachment: 600- DWM 1914 Artillery 1918-1920.jpg
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2- Right Side

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3- Acceptance Stampings
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4- Left Side

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5- Part Number stampings

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6- Frame & Barrel Stampings

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7- Inner Lid & Tool

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8- Stock

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Bill
 

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I will post some photos of my 1918/20 after Christmas- the pistol is a Christmas present to myself! I traded a nice scant stock 1903 Remington "Springfield" rifle and $400-ouch-but I've always craved a P-08 Luger and they just keep going way up in price-The "/20" is slightly smaller and at the 5 o'clock position to the "1918"-have not disassembled it yet-
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Jim,

Your photo didn't come through. In order to completely understand this gun it will be necessary to see good, sharp, closeup pictures of the markings on the right receiver and underneath the barrel, as well as any markings on the gun which are -not- of a crown/gothic letter nature.

--Dwight
 

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Got help with image-should be on now-will try to take some better pics when holiday bustle is over-markings look standard gothic/imperial:receiver has RC/crowns with triple D,B,M,(?-best I can make out) beneath them, eagles on receiver and barrel, matching serial number 986u on barrel and caliber marking beneath, no unit markings,lots of crown inspector marks and "86" serial correspondence-all seen vanilla except for 1918/20-
 

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Dwight- I took a minute tonight and disassembled 986u. The markings are very similar to your pics in the above post-one correction to my above posting-like your example, the barrel on mine does not have the "u" under the 986 like the receiver does- Also-there is a large "S" on back of the toggle and what looks to be perhaps a tiny eagle with a number "6" beneath it. My brother in law has a better digital camera than I have and I will send better pics soon. I noted your mention of a known serial number 1102u-this would only be 16 guns after mine was produced in late 1918-I was told by the seller my /20 mark indicated an arsenal re-work that year.The magazine does not match.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Jim,

The slash date /20 does not, according to the marking regulations, indicate a rework. Your Luger is a very interesting example, and the markings in detail may teach us something about a relatively unkown period in Luger production. Please check to see if there is a serial number stamped on the rear toggle pin.

I'm really excited to see your pictures.

--Dwight
 
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