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ERFURT STYLE HERALDIC EAGLE TEST PROOF ON THE BARRELS AND BREECH BLOCKS OF 1916-1918 DWM LUGERS.

I found this note prepared in answer to data and a question raised by Ed and Johnny. It was not posted because the boards went down.

According to Costanzo, page 74,(World of Luger Proof Marks) the so called Erfurt Eagle (test Proof) is found on the left breech block of 1915 to 1917 DWM Lugers and on the right barrel of 1916 to 1918 DWM Lugers. Costanzo published his book in 1977 so these DWM Lugers with the Erfurt style test eagle are not fakes or a recent creation of Waffenfabrik USA

I have noted the Erfurt style test proof on the left breech block and on the right barrel of the following P08 (4 inch) DWM Lugers: 1916 DWM serial number 8253d, 4917e, 4072i, 3649o and 1917 DWM serial number 1846b.

The Erfurt style test eagle is found on the barrel of almost all (but not all) 1917 dated LP08. A very few of the 1917 dated LP08 have the DWM style eagle on their barrel. The Erfurt style test eagle is also found on the barrel and breech block of a significant number of 1916 to 1917 dated DWM P08 (4 inch barrel).

My observations are that the parts found on DWM Lugers with the Erfurt style test Eagle appear to be machined and finished by DWM (not Erfurt). ( These are recollections on my part and a detailed study may be instructive.)

According to the 1908 DWM contract conditions, the location of the inspection and acceptance of contracted pistols .....are undertaken by an acceptance commission formed by inspectors of Gewerhfabrik Spandu who are stationed in the contractors (DWM) factory, or alternatively, by the Gewehrfabrik itself (Gortz, Bryans p. 110). Review of the 1910 and 1913 Instructions for marking the Pistol 08, leave the impression that the inspections are taking place at the factory. Gortz, Bryans p. 111-123).


Collectors have speculated that the various parts (barrel and breechblock) with the Erfurt style test eagle were manufactured at the Erfurt plant. It is not obvious to me that this is what happened. The process of manufacturing and proofing of the barrel or breech block at Erfurt and then final assembly and proofing at DWM seems awkward and unlikely. Also, the power proofing was to be accomplished on the final assembled Luger (except for power proofing of breech blocks as spare parts for troop use Gortz and Bryans p.119).

According to 1910 marking instructions the Luger power proof test eagle is to be a “heraldic eagle” (Gortz and Bryans, p. 111). To my knowledge, there were not instructions indicating that DWM inspectors use a particular style of heraldic test eagle and Erfurt another style of heraldic test eagle. The inspectors reported to an inspection Commission and not the plant where they accomplished their inspections. The so called DWM style test eagle itself varies significantly in style . This suggests that significant latitude was allowed in the style of test Eagle and that a specific style may not have been assigned to either Erfurt or DWM. It is suggested that the inspection commission or plant distributed the dies with the Erfurt style eagle to one of the inspectors at the DWM plant. This would easily explain the appearance of the Erfurt style eagle on DWM manufactured Lugers.

At maximum capacity DWM is reported to have completed up to750 lugers a day.(200,000 lugers a year divided by 350 working days a year = 571 lugers a day average.) It is doubtful that one inspector accomplished all the required inspections and proof stampings each day. The Luger assembly line must have had multiple inspectors*. There may even have been multiple luger assembly lines during the years of peak production (1916-1918). Different inspectors with different test eagle styles would help explain the different styles of test eagles found on some DWM Lugers produced during 1916-1918.

*Also of interest: different styles of numbers are sometimes found on different parts of the same DWM Luger. This suggests multiple serial number stampers working on the same Luger; which, somewhat corrolates with the above.
 

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Jan, my 1918, 9723 ns, is posted on this forum and has the Erfurt Eagle on the barrel and breechblock.

I agree that there must have been multiple inspectors, or at least multiple stampers. Since the inspectors were required to keep a plate with their inspection stamp imprint it would seem the inspector was the stamper.

My recollection of the "Spandau" Lugers is that they are Erfurt style proofed. This would fit with a theory that Spandau was using Erfurt style eagles after some point in time. Granted it does not prove anything but it is not inconsistent with the theory. It would also strikes me as odd to have breechblocks for DWM machined at Erfurt. Erfurt was not a Loewe conglomerate plant and they are variously rumored to produce work slightly less close to optimum tolerance than DWM. ( I do not know if that is actually true) Why would DWM agree to use a breechblock not of their manufacture when it is an absolutely critical part both for passing power proof and accuracy/rapid fire tests?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Heinz
I agree with you that Erfurt likley did not manufacture and proof DWM barrels and breech blocks.

A note on the Spandu Lugers. At a NAPCA talk Kenyon stated that he felt that all the Spandu Lugers may be fakes. Another collector that examined 5 of the 6 existing Spandu Lugers was certain that the 5 he examined were fakes. In my opinion they all extremely questionable.
Jan
 

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Jan, It might be interesting to create a mythology on how a Spandau should be waffenampted and proofed and see if they start showing up that way.

Back to the subject of DWM proof eagle styles. Both of my lugers have the C/S in the 26c position. The stamp in 1918 shows a lot more wear than on the 1915. It is an interesting question as to whether the inspector would relate to the style of proof eagle. Another interesting question is if the proof stamp used for the barrel proof is a "special" stamp to mmatch the barrel curvature, or if a flat stamp was used leaving a slightly off imprint. You, and others who have looked at a lot more barrel proofs than me, may be able to make an educated guess on that one.
 

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Heinz



Download Attachment: Guns for sale June 28, 2003 297.jpg
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I will attach a photograph of 1916 DWM, sn 3649o, that is accepted C/H C/S C/S with DWM style eagle on the right receiver. It bears the Erfurt style eagle on the right side of the barrel. Also, the 1917 DWM LP08 shown in this section below (R.J.R.72.MW unit stamp)bears the C/S acceptance stamp.

You may be on to something with the C/S acceptance stamp. However, if you look through Costanzo page 284-295 (where he shows the right receiver proofs and dates of DWM and Erfurt Lugers), you will notice that the C/S stamp is shown often on the 1916 and 1917 dated DWM's. As Costanzo does not show serial numbers or barrel proofs its hard to draw conclusions.

Most often the barrel proof on DWM Lugers is delicate and sharp when compared to the receiver proof (the hardened receiver may take a different stamp). Clearly a different stamp is used when the Erfurt style stamp is used on the barrel. When the DWM style stamp is used on both the barrel and receiver most often the barrel proof is also sharp and delicate when compared to the receiver proof. I would speculate that these stamps are also diferent. As you state the curved surface of the barrel may have required a different stamp than the flat hardened surface of the receiver. Perhaps some member can find out if a significantly curved surface like a luger barrel requires special stamps. I will attach a photograph of an early DWM illustrating the difference between the barrel proof and the receiver proof.
Jan

Download Attachment: Guns for sale June 28, 2003 043.jpg
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quote:Originally posted by Jan C Still

My observations are that the parts found on DWM Lugers with the Erfurt style test Eagle appear to be machined and finished by DWM (not Erfurt). ( These are recollections on my part and a detailed study may be instructive.)
A comparison of two 1917 DWM LP-08 barrels--one with a DWM Eagle, one with an Erfurt--and an Erfurt LP-08 show this to be the case. (The comparison was posted on the old board.)

NOTE: the rest of this post contains SPECULATION based on evidence and documentation at hand, and pertinent questions when I don't know the answer.

A discussion of this topic elsewhere has caused me to wonder if the Erfurt-proofed parts on DWM Lugers are actually original to the guns?

Görtz & Bryans, in "German Small Arms Markings", also include the 1913 "Inspection and Acceptance of Pistols 08 and Parts Thereof". Annex G of that document (pp 118-120) lists the requirements for "Power-Proof Shooting and Rapid-Fire Shooting of Pistols 08". As required, completed pistols are subjected to:
C. Power Proof [...];
D. Rapid Fire [...];
E. Cleaning [...];
F. Examination [...];
G. Stamping "Pistols which meet the specifications receive at this time (italics mine) the power-proof stamp on barrel, receiver, and breechblock."

So, according to Army regulations, there is no reason for Erfurt test proofs to show up on DWM pistols. In addition, if an inspector holding Erfurt stamps inspected the weapon after power-proof (or if the die was otherwise available to the Inspectors) it seems most reasonable that -all three- proofs would be Erfurt adlers.

A fair speculation would be that DWM provided repair parts as well as finished pistols--I imagine that documentatin for this actually exists somewhere, perhaps in the original contract wording, but I do not have it.

Joachim Görtz, in the February 1996 "Auto Mag", noted the list of parts available to armorers for field repair, and noted that barrels and receivers were not included, that barrel and receiver repair was an armory-level function. (Although this was a WWII-era edict, I have observed that Weimar and Wehrmacht practices regarding the P-08 tend to follow those established by the Imperial German Army, so I am confident that this practice was current in WWI.)

Where did these repairs take place? Certainly not at DWM, which was a civilian contract manufacturer who would have no responsibility for the weapon once it was delivered to the Army.

Was the Erfurt Armory (or Spandau, for that matter) a major repair depot for weapons repair?

The 1913 annex goes on to specify that if the barrel, receiver, or breechblock have been replaced, the weapon must undergo the power-proof and rapid-fire tests again. As these parts would not have been previously proofed, they would then be stamped and thus bear the proof mark of the repair armory. Is -this- where the Erfurt barrel proofs on DWM pistols come from?

There are interesting implications here, regarding the huge numbers of 1917 LP-08 with Erfurt proofs. Still ("Imperial Lugers" p 16) notes that LP-08 serial# are interspersed with standard P-08 serial#s. Is it possible that DWM sent Erfurt completed pistols from the regular production run, along with LP-08 barrels, sights, and rear toggles, to have them converted into LP-08 at Erfurt? This would be one way to account for the Erfurt barrel proofs (hmmm, did I just reinvent the wheel here?).

Yes, I recognize that the receiver notch is a fly in this ointment, the guns might have had to be shipped "in the white". Iirc P-08 were proofed before they were blued, so this is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Is there a recognizable difference between DWM and Erfurt bluing?

Do -any- Lugers which have DWM receiver proofs and Erfurt barrel proofs display perfect witness marks?

Annex G continues with the requirements for power-proofing of breech blocks as spare parts for troop use, i.e. unit armorer field replacement. Spare breechblocks were to be assembled into pistols (which could be made up of otherwise rejected parts) and subjected to test "as if a factory-new pistol were proof fired." Breechblocks which passed the subsequent inspection were proof stamped "on the spot."

If spare-part breechblocks were delivered to an arsenal, say Erfurt, and then proofed for distribution into the field, they would naturally bear that stamp rather than DWM. Under this circumstance, then, Erfurt proofed breechblocks on DWM P-08s would be the result of field replacement.

Comments are certainly appropriate and edifying, flames are probably inevitable.

--Dwight
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
(What I am presenting is my best estimate/guess to explain the Erfurt test proofs on the breech blocks and barrels of some 1916-1918 dated DWM Lugers. I tried to use the principals of Occam’s Razor to arrive at this guess-explanation.) Note: disagreeing with another collectors point of view is not a flame.

OCCAM'S RAZOR
This principle known as Occam's Razor. A problem should be stated in its basic and simplest terms. In science, the simplest theory that fits the facts of a problem is the one that should be selected.
This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.

The simplest model is more likely to be correct--especially when we are working with unusual phenomenon.

I WOULD LIKE TO RESTATE AND ADD SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES TO THE INITIAL PRESENTATION THAT STARTED THIS THREAD.

The Erfurt style test proof has been noted on the left breech block and on the right barrel of a number of 1916-1918 dated DWM Lugers and on the barrel of almost all 1917 LP08's. Examination of these lugers in comparison to the same year Lugers with all DWM proofs does not reveal any machining or finish differences. The barrels and breech blocks of these DWM Lugers with Erfurt style test proofs do not exhibit Erfurt style machining and finish. The receiver cut often observed on 1917-1918 Erfurt Lugers is not present on these Lugers.



Download Attachment: 1916DWM3649o1.jpg
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Download Attachment: 1916DWM3649o2.jpg
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Figure 1. Right side of 1916 DWM, serial number3649o, with Erfurt style test proof on the barrel and breech block. Left slant view of the same Luger. Note: the lack of acceptance stamps on the barrel and breech block, which is typical of all DWM (1908-1918) Lugers.



Download Attachment: 1912Erfurt3.jpg
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Figure 2. 1912 Erfurt showing the acceptance stamps on almost all parts including the barrel (the breech block stamps are not visible in this view). This is typical of all Erfurts (1911-1918). The machining, fit and final finishing, and blue on Erfurt Lugers is generally to a lower standard than that found on DWM Lugers. A experienced Imperial Luger collector can generally determine if a Luger is an Erfurt or DWM based on fit and finish alone.



Download Attachment: 1912Erfurtreplacement sideplate4.jpg
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Figure 3. Erfurt replacement side plate. The side plate bears the acceptance stamp but not the serial number.

To the best of my knowledge, Erfurt replacement parts are found with the acceptance/inspection stamp on them. These DWM barrels and breech blocks with the Erfurt style test proof do not have Erfurt crown/scriptic letter acceptance/inspection stamps that are indicated in the 1910 dated marking instructions and used on all Erfurt manufactured Lugers. One would expect barrels and breech blocks sent from Erfurt to DWM for assembly into complete Lugers to bear the typical Erfurt inspection stamp and not the final Erfurt test proof. DWM could then add the final test proof to the assembled Luger as required by the regulations.

There is no indication that the Erfurt proofed barrels and breech blocks found on 1916-1918 dated DWM Lugers are replacements, or are not original to the gun. In short, the Erfurt style proofed barrels and breech blocks do not give any machining or finishing indication of being manufactured by Erfurt.

According to the 1908 DWM contract conditions, the location of the inspection and acceptance of contracted pistols(Lugers) .....are undertaken by an acceptance commission formed by inspectors of Gewerhfabrik Spandu who are stationed in the contractors (DWM) factory, or alternatively, by the Gewehrfabrik itself (Gortz, Bryans p. 110).

Also, the stamps remain with the bureaucracy or the inspection commission. According to the 1913 regulations “In order to ascertain at present and future times, which acceptance stamp (die ) an official has carried, a zinc sheet has to be kept under lock and key by the senior inspector.” (P.118 Gortz and Bryans) Gortz attributes the inspection stamp letters to the initials of specific inspectors. These inspectors reported to an acceptance commission formed by the inspectors of Gewerhfabrik Spandu, who were probably stationed in the contractors (DWM) factory. Test proofs and acceptance stamps were controlled by the Spandu lead government bureaucracy, not the complying contractor (DWM).

According to 1910 marking instructions the Luger power proof test eagle is to be a “heraldic eagle” (Gortz and Bryans, p. 111). To my knowledge, there were not instructions indicating that DWM inspectors use a particular style of heraldic test eagle and Erfurt another style of heraldic test eagle. The inspectors reported to an inspection Commission at Spandu and not the plant where they accomplished their inspections. The so called DWM style test eagle itself varies significantly in style . This suggests that significant latitude was allowed in the style of test Eagle and that a specific style may not have been assigned to either Erfurt or DWM. It is suggested that the inspection commission distributed the dies with the Erfurt style eagle to one of the inspectors at the DWM plant. An alternate explanation is that an Erfurt inspector was assigned to the DWM plant during 1916 - 1918. Either explanation would easily explain the appearance of the Erfurt style eagle on DWM manufactured Lugers.





Download Attachment: Sauer19135.jpg
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Figure 4. An Erfurt style eagle used on the front trigger guard of a World War I manufactured 1913 Sauer. The Erfurt style stamp was not confined to Erfurt manufactured Lugers. Lugerlu collection and photograph.

There is a complication pointed out by Dwight: Once the assembled pistol has undergone a number of steps including Power proofing, rapid fire, cleaning, and examination, the power proof is stamped on the barrel, receiver and breech block (Gortz, Bryans p 119). I agree with Dwight that one would expect “In addition, if an inspector holding Erfurt stamps inspected the weapon after power-proof (or if the die was otherwise available to the Inspectors) it seems most reasonable that -all three- proofs would be Erfurt. However, this is not the case. With the Lugers in question, the test proof on the right receiver is always in the DWM style and that on the barrel and breech block is always in the Erfurt style. I would suggest that it was a convention at DWM not to use the Erfurt style test Eagle on the right receiver. (I do not know why, but this the way these lugers are marked).
In my opinion, the explanation given above and in the first post of this thread, complies with a detailed series of observations of Erfurt style test proofs on DWM Lugers, complies with detailed observations of Erfurt manufactured Lugers, and is also consistent with the published regulations.

Numerous other explanations/theories are possible. However, in my opinion the explanation above better complies with observations and is simpler than one that involves sending partly finished DWM barrels, breechblocks or Lugers to another plant; or field replacement of the barrel and breech block of numerous Lugers; or to have DWM P08's along with LP08 barrels, sights, and rear toggles sent to Erfurt to be converted to LP08's; or sending Erfurt barrels and breechblocks (with test proofs but not acceptance stamps) to DWM.
 

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Jan, Great photographs as always. Looking at the proof eagles on C/S Lugers at the OGCA will bcome a new avocation.

Dwight. The witness mark on my 1918 posted in the Imperial Lugers section is perfect. That luger is a early 1918 (no suffix) and has the erfurt proof on the barrel. I believe the inspectors may have used 3 seperate stamps for the proof marking, One for the reciever, a hardened flat section with a need to align with the inspectors marks, one for the barrel, a curved section with a different hardness than the reciever, and one for the breech block. The breech block I suggest because the Erfurt style proof eagle seems to show up there first and it also appears an awkward area to stamp. I hope this meets Jan's criteria for simplicity.
 

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Heinz,

Thanks for the witness mark report.

The human element seems to be the imponderable here, I was casting about for an explanation which eliminated that or arbitrary procedures.

I seem to recall reading that Lugers were blued after proofing (I cannot now find the reference). If this was the case it would have been easier to proof stamp the breechblock after disassembly. In any case, I just examined my 1917 LP08--it has an Erfurt barrel proof but a DWM breechblock proof--and the breechblock was definitely stamped by a different die from the receiver.

--Dwight
 

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Dwight, I think the "halo" around the calibre numbers would suggest stamping after bluing. One of the knowlegeable collectors could refresh our memories on what marks would be expected to have a halo, and which would not.

Thanks for the information on the breechblock proof. Mine both have erfurt proofs on the breechblock but I have always had the impression that even the DWM bb proofs are different than the reciever proof.
 
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