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Some years ago I picked up a Luger P08 at Condon's in Middleburg Virginia. He had an LP08 and a P04/17 and a humble P08. The former were priced at $2400 and $3500. The merchant would not deal and that was that. The P08 was priced at $1250. I bought the P08. Here are a few photographs.

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AS one can see this 1908 first model military has been marked on the back strap to an individual. At some point in its life, it was in the possesion of one Offizierstellvertretter M. Plank.

This is a rather unique rank to the Imperial German Army. An Off.stll.vttrtr is a combat officer not commissioned. He is somewhat like a warrant officer in the US organization, but promoted under battlefield conditions.

I would be interested to hear of any other such pistols marked to individuals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
A correspondent of mine in Canada has an Imperial Luger with a similar marking also to an Offizierstellvertretter. Why these fellows? Is there something unique to the rank that would push them to mark a privately owned weapon? Was it because they thought they would be rifted back into the ranks and then have a private purchase weapon questioned?

When a fellow was promoted from the ranks was he required to buy his own sidearm?

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These photographs are his and he has given permission for me to offer them here.


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I believe this pistol is a 1917 dated example.
 

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George........ Just great to see that you found my Uncle Maurice's gun. As soon as I find the note that says he wanted me to have it I will send it along to you with shipping instructions........NEAT GUN.........

The only Luger I ever owned that was "personalized" was one that had the name LIPPNOFS or LIPPNOHS deeply engraved on the left hand side in the portion right of the sideplate. I may have written it up for Automag back around early 1997. It was somekind of rework that looked like a "sneak" but really not seralized. As I recall, it only had one or two numbered parts. I guess I came to the conclusion that it was probably a "lunch box special" that somebody was pretty proud of or just dumb enuf to have his name engraved on it........ Sorry I sold it.
 

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George, It's interesting that both inscriptions look marked similar to unit markings rather than some fancy ingraving. I suppose these Officers would take the pistol to the field armorer and pay him to do it. Jerry Burney
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dave, I'll await your uncle's note and then personally bring it to Ohio. Please go out in front and stand by the mail box and wait for me.

Jan, our friend in California ran a search back in 2002 but could only find references to a Lt Planck not Plank. I am able to identify a Lt Plank in the 1914 Rangliste; he was in a Wurtemberger artillery regiment but was commissioned in 1907 so he's not the guy.

Since Dave's uncle Maurice was a Offstllvrtrtr at the time the pistol was marked, we might project that he was later commissioned, if so he should show up in a Rangliste. I have Ranglisten for 1909, 1912, and 1914 only. I don't know whether the Rangliste is compiled at the beginning of the year or the end. My guess would be at the beginning. So IF M.Plank was eventually commissioned he would first show up in a Rangliste 1915-1918. As I understand it Offizierstellvertretter was a rank to which one could be elevated only during a war.

Further research is possible in German government archives but it is such a long time since I used German on a daily basis that I fear my written German might be of the same level of proficiency as the written English of some of our members from Louisiana.
 

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Alright, this will be a lots of theory, little guessing, and very little fact. The term "vetretter" in normal German use means replacement or substitute. If you do a Google search on "stellv." there are hundreds of listings for substitute employment positions, ect. Using this thought the term "Offizierstellvertretter" it literally means " substitute officer".
Therefore since Offizierstellvertretters Plank and Barthel were substitute officers they were permitted unit sidearms instead of being required to purchase them as "real" officers. And add to this the possibility that since they both were lowly enlisted who were able to rise up to the then very elite class of officers the guns might have been a unit present from the enlisted men. Let's see, theory, yup, guessing, definitely, facts, minimal. That covers it.
(all the ones I could find were pilots)

Rechtswörterbuch
Vertreter
Vertreter ist, wer für einen anderen handelt.
 

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George
Re:"I would be interested to hear of any other such pistols marked to individuals." Here is another.

Stamped on the front strap of a 1914 Erfurt, sn 2470, Oblt. Axthelm B.16.J.R. which signifies: Oberleutnant Axthelm, an officer in the Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 16 Reserve. His promotion to Oberleutnant was effective from 16th March 1917. So the property mark must have been struck after this date on Axthelm’s personal initiative. Also, Axthelm (1855-1940) was a Telegraphen-Sekretar, a civil servant employed by the German Mail Service. The photograph is credited to Dr. Bernd Ebert, Freiburg, from an unpublished book page 53.
Jan
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jan, I was just revisiting this subject and noticed that Oblt. Axthelm was in the Bavarian 16th Reserve Regiment, I wonder if one of his bunk mates might have been the future Chancellor.
 

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I tend to agree with the theory offered by "axl", that these sidearms were presented to these new "commissioned officers" by their units or by their friends. It must have been a big deal, at least for the first group of enlisted men in the War to be elevated to officer status, so the guys in their unit wanted to commerate the occassion by personalizing the sidearms.
 
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