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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to all Unique experts,

Although I have no knowledge in the field of gun nor pistol, I still registered on this forum. Why?
In November 2013, my father died, and I found this broken pistol in a old wine box (Bordeaux Saint Emilion 1985 !!!) hidden in the basement of the wine cellar.
According to my research on several sites, including this excellent forum, I found out, this pistol is a 7.65 MAPF Unique model 17. However, I am missing the date of manufacture which I estimate pre-war (thanks Dgiz and Yoebuff for your information work on serial numbers).

The history of this pistol is quite simple but long… so, sorry to impose this family story on you guys.

My father was born in 1925, he was 19 years old in 1944.
He lived in a small town in the center west of France, Saint Junien, in the Limousin region (called little Russia by the Germans because in active resistance since 1940).
During the morning of May 10, 1944, my father, a friend and my grandfather took the tram for Limoges but after 12 km, young soldiers of the SS division "Das Reich" stopped the tram in the countryside before the village of Oradour sur Glane. They check everyone's ID papers. My father and his friend are put aside on the tram track. The reason: they are old enough to go to the STO (Service du Travail Obligatoire - German Compulsory Labor Service).
My grandfather didn’t argue, he just mention “if they are on this tram it’s because they are going to Limoges requisitioned for loading military equipment at the train station, so please could you give me an official receipt explaining why you retaining then, and I could give back to the Limoges kommandantur explaining why they are not working for them !”... off course it wasn't true.
The SS soldiers (who were Alsacian and understand perfectly French) was ordered to take only people from Oradour sur Glane, they finally decided to release them. The tram will leave, returning to the departure city, Saint-Junien. My father and his friend have just escaped the Oradour sur Glane massacre, 642 dead, women, children, men shot and burned
https://www.oradour.org/
My grandfather will be among the first to return to the village the next day and discover the mass graves in church, farm etc.

Realizing the horror, my father decides to go underground with several of his friends and join a group of resistance fighters in the Limousin Charente. It will be the Ruffec group named after this small town. During this period there were so many young people in France wanting to escape the STO that the resistant groups could no longer provide weapons and live. My father had no weapons in this Resistance “maquis”.
http://resistancefrancaise.blogspot.com/2015/05/le-maquis-foch-charente.html
It was not until the fight of September 1 and 2 1944 for the liberation of Ruffec that he will recover this weapon from a dead soldier? a prisoner? a French militiaman? a policeman? I’ll never knew!
End of the story.

Photos of 3 september 1944 liberation of Villefagnan village in Charente, France.
My father was certainly participating at this liberation.
libe_villefagnan_3_9_1944_002.jpg llibe_villefagnan_3_9_1944_004.jpg llibe_villefagnan_3_9_1944_006.jpg

_____________________________________

When I found this pistol, it was not well maintained, and the firing pin was broken. In March 2020 I decide a complete renovation - 14 steps in photos:

-1 Unique eng 01.jpg -2 Unique eng 02.jpg -3 Unique eng 03.jpg -4 Unique eng 04.jpg

-5 Unique eng 05.jpg -6 Unique eng 06.jpg -7 Unique eng 07.jpg -8 Unique eng 08.jpg

-9 Unique eng 09.jpg -10 Unique eng 10.jpg -11 Unique eng 11.jpg -12 Unique eng 12.jpg

-13 Unique eng 13.jpg -14 Unique eng 14.jpg

I discover a plain and rustic pistol. Looking closely, I found the industrial process was not very good with a poor-quality steel. Whatever, now he is firing again but it’s a quite old pistol not very accurate and reliable. As I say at the beginning of this message, I do not have much interest in gun just “object-soul curiosity”. I won’t use it anymore, just keep it well maintained in memory of my father.

However, I miss the year of manufacture? I therefore appeal to the experts help to locate an approximate date in relation to the SN:

Serial number: 246 640
Assembly number: 920

Slide Legend :
MANUFACTURE D'ARMES DES PYRENNEES HENDAYE
LE VERITABLE PISTOLET FRANCAIS 'UNIQUE'
MARQUE DEPOSEE CAL. 7.65MM S.F.M

Black bakelite grips marked Unique with Lion.
Unique eng SN.jpg


Thank you in advance for your efforts and hope you will understand my terrible English.

Henry

Unique eng 00.jpg
 

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Thank you for the exceptional setting for time, place and events. Your father lived in troubled times.

Wish you had come to us before the refinish. We would have talked you into preserving the original finish!
 

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First welcome to the forum. What a great way to start off! What a fascinating story and great restoration of a rare gun. According to Robert Adairs "Unique Pistols", you do have what is known as an early commercial model of the Unique 17. They were manufactured from 1928 to around 1939 within serial number range of 232857 to 267034 with a production of only around 8,000 guns. The serial numbers overlap other models. So its not an exact science to accurately date your gun but I would place it in the early 1930's. These were well built guns and before the French Contract guns. They were bought up by many police units within France. Thank you for sharing a treasured family heirloom.
 

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German Navy 1848 -1918
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Thank you in advance for your efforts and hope you will understand my terrible English.

Henry
Welcome to the forum. You brought us a wonderful story and I think you are doing a great thing to honor your father!!

Your English is probably better than mine.
 

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Thanks for sharing the story of your father as a maquis and his gun.
The in invaluable as it has a special meaning for you. It is a nice way to preserve the memory of your father.
Congratulations !
Douglas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dear Sam,

Thanks for your warm welcome. Concerning the aproximative date of this pistol, you're sharing the same conclusion as Bob Adairs 29/32. That's surprise me, because related to the story of my father I thought this pistol was build in the early 40's.
So it's good point to learn about it, thank's to you guys doing a monk job ! (not monkey job:))

As I mention in my post I know absolutely nothing in pistol or weapon and in peculiar to Unique. You suprise me again when you mention "These were well built guns and before the French Contract guns"...:eek: During the complete disassembly of the pistol , well... I found the industrial process not good and a "very" poor-quality steel. I can not imagine these French Contract Gun was terribly made and far worse than mine ! The two main problem in Unique : 1 - Firing pin - oftenly brake- 2 Gun Jam - Sometime the catridge jacket are stuck in the slide 2 possibilities : a loose spring recoil or too old catdrige with poor quality gun powder ! Whatever it's a old gun I would never use it.
I can imagine if it was made for the police unit... the gangster have a serious advantage !

Merci Sam !
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for the exceptional setting for time, place and events. Your father lived in troubled times.

Wish you had come to us before the refinish. We would have talked you into preserving the original finish!
Bonjour Martin,

You have intrigued me with your original finish advise.
Do you mind if you can tell me more about it ?
It always good to learn from old pistol experienced people.
Merci.

HenrY
 

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Bonjour Martin,

You have intrigued me with your original finish advise.
Do you mind if you can tell me more about it ?
It always good to learn from old pistol experienced people.
Merci.

HenrY
Je vous en prie, Henry.

As collectors, in the largest general definition, we prize originality over aesthetics. A firearm in its original finish is far more 'collectible' than one which has been refinished. In fact, the greatest percentage of collectors would deem a refinished gun as not worthy of buying.

Contrarily, there is a small (and sometimes loud) faction within the collecting community who believe that it is OK to strip the finish of a gun, and add a shiny new finish.

My personal opinion is the practice of refinishing a historical firearm misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. In many cases, a refinished gun will be passed on as an original finish. Some folks will express that the refinished product is done purely for personal preference, and is not intended to deceive. But eventually, those folks die. Their refinished guns are no longer their personal preference, and can become available on the public market. The chances that these refinished guns will be represented as original finish are great. And it takes a special expertise to recognize these guns as misrepresented.

Now, you will enjoy your refinished pistol as a family treasure, and perhaps keep it in the family for as long as you can influence its possession protocol. But eventually, the chances are good that the pistol will move outside the influence of your family's interest. It will be scrutinized for its physical appearance only, and perhaps deemed as less than desirable by most in the collecting community.

Hope that helps you to understand my comment on the specifics of refinishing. But please don't think that my opinion is diminished of your father's contribution to the resistance, nor your devotion to the personal connection to the Unique pistol as an artifact of your father's risk, sacrifice and service. I am heartened to hear of his history, as it is important for all freedom loving people.
 

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A side note.

There is a model/theory of value for collectibles (mine--the Information Theory of Collectibles Value) that predicts the value of your pistol among a pool of collectors. The amount of original information of interest to collectors that is retained by the pistol predicts the value. This is separate from any practical value the pistol has as a firearm.

Original information:
1.The parts the pistol had at time of acceptance inspection.
2.The accessories that were grouped with the pistol at time of issuance for practical use.
3.The retention of original finish on both metal and wood or other parts.
4.The provenance, events, or history of use, ownership, documentation, or contribution to knowledge of the pistol following its manufacture. This includes famous events it was associated with (e.g, liberation of France), famous people who owned or used it, listing of the pistol in reference books, verification of its authenticity by knowledgeable people, and reference to design or other interesting characteristics (e.g., prototype)
5.General appeal (popular familiarity or design appeal, e.g., luger or single action army).
6. Absolute rarity of the item. This is simply a recognition of supply-and-demand economics.

These are some of the elements that determine collector appeal. Most are linked to the attraction of people to history. The amount of history information retained by the pistol, the more value the pistol has to collectors.

Note, also, that it is common among collectors to rate the quality of finish of a refinished pistol as "0 percent finish" when checking value in a reference such as the Blue Book of gun values, which is a common, if limited and imperfect, valuation guide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Je vous en prie, Henry.

As collectors, in the largest general definition, we prize originality over aesthetics. A firearm in its original finish is far more 'collectible' than one which has been refinished. In fact, the greatest percentage of collectors would deem a refinished gun as not worthy of buying.

Contrarily, there is a small (and sometimes loud) faction within the collecting community who believe that it is OK to strip the finish of a gun, and add a shiny new finish.

My personal opinion is the practice of refinishing a historical firearm misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. In many cases, a refinished gun will be passed on as an original finish. Some folks will express that the refinished product is done purely for personal preference, and is not intended to deceive. But eventually, those folks die. Their refinished guns are no longer their personal preference, and can become available on the public market. The chances that these refinished guns will be represented as original finish are great. And it takes a special expertise to recognize these guns as misrepresented.

Now, you will enjoy your refinished pistol as a family treasure, and perhaps keep it in the family for as long as you can influence its possession protocol. But eventually, the chances are good that the pistol will move outside the influence of your family's interest. It will be scrutinized for its physical appearance only, and perhaps deemed as less than desirable by most in the collecting community.

Hope that helps you to understand my comment on the specifics of refinishing. But please don't think that my opinion is diminished of your father's contribution to the resistance, nor your devotion to the personal connection to the Unique pistol as an artifact of your father's risk, sacrifice and service. I am heartened to hear of his history, as it is important for all freedom loving people.
Cher Martin,

Merci for this long explanatory message imbued with tact and respect (precious quality in this chaotic world) for the Boeotian that I am.
And indeed, my perspective is distorted because I am not a collector therefore, I understand very well this notion of time "patina" which constitutes the soul and story of objects through the ages.
I experienced deeply this feeling. It was in October 1982, near the town of Périgueux in Dordogne. A friend, a speleologist took me to a cave not open to the public. After walking and crawling for 40 minutes, he showed me this wall covered with positive and negative handprints in charcoal or ocher. Extraordinary feeling fills you. In the flickering light of the flame at my helmet (at this time we used acetylene) I superimposed my hand, without touching the print, off course. This simple, childish gesture connected me to the human who laid his hand 25,000 years ago. It is a pure emotion that has profoundly changed my relationship with human nature.
To a lesser extent, I can easily imagine what a collector might feel examining a weapon who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. Fascinating when history touch you. Some might say fetishism I saw emotion.

The refinishing of this pistol was at first a pragmatic decision, the rust settling in, the worn-out mechanisms, old marks of badly done brushing, forged my conviction to put everything back in clean order. But as a second thought it was maybe unconsciously making this gun alive... Danke herr Doktor Sigmund Freud !

You clearly understand that this pistol will never go on sale. And as you subtly suggested "in the future, I eventually die" :), so "quid" from this Unique Pistol refinishing? Will he be sold with this “fake original state”? The main purpose of being member of this forum is to collect information and leave a personnal record document which will go along with this pistol.
Now, as you already now, record can be lost, and it will be only matters of moral value decision for the next owners of this pistol… specifically my children. My responsibility is to transmit these simple, but so difficult moral values to apply in real life. Even for something incongruous as a weapon.
It was nice to share this point of view Martin.

A bientôt,

HenrY
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A side note.

There is a model/theory of value for collectibles (mine--the Information Theory of Collectibles Value) that predicts the value of your pistol among a pool of collectors. The amount of original information of interest to collectors that is retained by the pistol predicts the value. This is separate from any practical value the pistol has as a firearm.

Original information:
1.The parts the pistol had at time of acceptance inspection.
2.The accessories that were grouped with the pistol at time of issuance for practical use.
3.The retention of original finish on both metal and wood or other parts.
4.The provenance, events, or history of use, ownership, documentation, or contribution to knowledge of the pistol following its manufacture. This includes famous events it was associated with (e.g, liberation of France), famous people who owned or used it, listing of the pistol in reference books, verification of its authenticity by knowledgeable people, and reference to design or other interesting characteristics (e.g., prototype)
5.General appeal (popular familiarity or design appeal, e.g., luger or single action army).
6. Absolute rarity of the item. This is simply a recognition of supply-and-demand economics.

These are some of the elements that determine collector appeal. Most are linked to the attraction of people to history. The amount of history information retained by the pistol, the more value the pistol has to collectors.

Note, also, that it is common among collectors to rate the quality of finish of a refinished pistol as "0 percent finish" when checking value in a reference such as the Blue Book of gun values, which is a common, if limited and imperfect, valuation guide.
thank you for this side note.
Reading you I have the feeling that these are the same procedures for collectors of 18th century paintings or 19th century silver spoons and why not... Holster collector :).

A form of universality in the criteria for determining a market value.
 
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