Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1333: Mannlicher 1900 Pistol 7.63 mm Mannlicher Auto

Auction Date: September 10, 2011

Magnificent Sultan of Turkey Presentation Exhibition Grade Mannlicher Semi-Automatic Pistol with Deluxe Hand Tooled Leather Bound, French Fitted Display Case

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $50,000 - $100,000

Magnificent Sultan of Turkey Presentation Exhibition Grade Mannlicher Semi-Automatic Pistol with Deluxe Hand Tooled Leather Bound, French Fitted Display Case

Manufacturer: Mannlicher
Model: 1900
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 7.63 mm Mannlicher Auto
Barrel: 5 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened/gold
Grip: ivory inlaid walnut
Item Views: 2040
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 6
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

This is an exceptionally rare, early production 1900 Mannlicher semi-automatic presentation pistol that has been lavishly factory deep relief chisel engraved and fitted with a beautiful set of walnut grips that have been adorned with various ivory inlays. The pistol itself also carries a factory inscription or presentation which experts attribute to the Sultan of Turkey. This pistol, various accessories and tools are all housed in a hand tooled, gold guilded and dyed, leather bound display case. The 1900 Mannlicher pistol itself is a very early design that was very unique for the time in that it was blow-back operated which fired the 7.65mm Mannlicher automatic cartridge, (similar to the 7.63 Mauser cartridge). The interesting aspect of the pistol is that it uses an internal magazine that is loaded from the top, via stripper clips, which are positioned in the clip guides located on top of the slide, and it has a two-piece barrel. At the time of its development, this pistol was considered very innovative, as well as strong and reliable; it fired a high velocity cartridge, making this a highly desirable and sought after weapon for any country. The pistol, as noted, has been engraved on over 95% of the metal surface, with the only area not engraved being the front grip strap, which carries the inscription and the barrel rib itself. The engraving is an early deep relief, Germanic style that has been executed in a vine and floral pattern with the punch dot background. It is fitted with a set of standard walnut grips that have been inlayed with genuine ivory in very nicely detailed vine and floral pattern that compliments the metal engraving of the pistol. In the center section of each grip panel there is a 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch oval ivory panel, inlayed into the grip which has been beautifully carved with a large sun-burst pattern in the background, over a set of cross-flags that depict the Cross and Crescent symbol of the Ottoman Empire or Sultan of Turkey. Surrounding the flags on both sides are various implements of war, which include, swords, pistols, cannons, lances and pikes etc. etc. The factory inscription is in three lines and reads: "RHEINISCHE METALLWARREN U./ MASCHINEN FABRIK ABTEILUNG SOMMERDA/ EHRHARDT WERKE" A loose translation is "Metalware and Machine Fabricating Department, at Sommerda works, from Ehrhardt". A brief history or connection of this inscription to the pistol and to the company is in order. Heinrich Ehrhardt was a young engineer who in 1889 accepted a subcontract from the large German manufacturing firm of Hörder Bergwerks- und Hüttenverein (HBH), a major ammunition contract for the Imperial German Army. After completion of this contract he developed several new patents and also designed a new rapid firing cannon which he later sold to Norway and eventually Germany. With the proceeds from these contracts and with the help of several venture capitalists in 1891 he formed the new company of Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik, near Erfurt. In 1901 he acquired the old Munitions-und Waffenfabrik AG of "Sömmerda" in Thuringia, previously known as Dreyse'sche Gewehrfabrik, a manufacturer of handguns, and cartridges. From this small start he was able to develop several unique patents on metal fabricating techniques which he developed into the Rheinmetall Works, one of the largest German metal working companies in Europe. Based on what the inscription says and the time frame for this pistol, this describer theorizes that this pistol was probably a gift or presentation to the Sultan of Turkey, for a military contract that may have used some of the raw material from this company or actually for small arms fabricated at the Sommerda works, probably in the 1901-1905 time frame. As you recall, the Imperial German government and the Turkish Empire were very close allies during this time and sold thousands of rifles, pistols, cannons and various war material to each other. As noted, the pistol and various accessories are all housed in a beautifully leather bound French fitted case that has been overlaid with several panels of almost a damascene leather pattern on all four sides as well as the lid. The center section of the lid has a raised, hand carved, leather coat of arms that looks like a double flag hanging on each side with a turban on top, with a crescent moon in the center. There is no name, markings or inscription on the coat of arms. The bottom front of the case is marked in gold "H&C SCHULTZE / DUSSELDORF". Inside the case are five compartments one for the pistol, screwdriver, cleaning rod, silver oiler bottle and small pin punch (which is missing). The lining is a light blue felt with the following three-line, Gold Letter inscription on the inside of the lid; "EHRHARDT WERKE/ ABTEILING SOMMERDA GEWEHRFABRIK/ SYSTEM MANNLICHER 1903". The barrel and lower frame have a rust blued finish, with the remainder of the frame and slide having a casehardened factory finish. The trigger, extractor and safety lever were all gold plated at one time. It has matching numbers on the various parts with the side of the slide having a small double "Crown over U" proofmark. Certainly this has to be one of the Crown Jewels of this auction that needs to be researched further.

Rating Definition:

Very fine overall with 95% plus of blue finish on the barrel and lower receiver group, with the balance silvered out to gray, and the casehardened factory finish also in very fine condition. The grips are in excellent condition showing only minor handling marks with all the ivory inlays intact in the grips. The carving of the ivory is also, clear, sharp and very distinct. The case is also in very fine condition with the underside of the case showing some loosing of the leather material with some of the corners and lower back edge showing some wear and light damage to the case, but this isn't noticeable. The blue felt lining inside shows some light wear where the pistol was housed with some minor light staining of the lid where it probably contacted the sides of the pistol. An extraordinary example of a cased Mannlicher Royal Presentation pistol.

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