Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 2585: Fully Automatic Thompson Colt Model 1921 Class III/NFA C&R

Auction Date: December 1, 2018

Historic Colt Model 1921 Class III/NFA C&R Fully Automatic Thompson Submachine Gun Documented to Legendary FBI Agent Melvin Purvis During the Final Pursuit and Death of Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Public Enemy Number One

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $75,000 - $120,000

Historic Colt Model 1921 Class III/NFA C&R Fully Automatic Thompson Submachine Gun Documented to Legendary FBI Agent Melvin Purvis During the Final Pursuit and Death of Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Public Enemy Number One

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1921 Thompson
Type: Machine gun
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 11 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 8947
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 260
Class: Class III

This is an excellent example of an original, fully automatic late production Colt M1921 Thompson Submachine gun that, as noted above, was actually 1 of 2 documented Thompson Submachine guns that helped gun down the notorious 1930s era gangster Pretty Boy Floyd in 1934. This serial number and accounting is documented on page 51 of the book "The Thompson Submachine Gun" by Roger Cox. Charles Arthur Floyd, aka "Pretty Boy" Floyd, was a very infamous bank robber and murderer in the mid 1920s-early 1930s. Much like fellow gangster Lester Gillis, aka George "Baby Face" Nelson, Floyd got his moniker for his youthful looks, and also like Nelson, he hated the handle every step of the way. He was born in Adairsville, Georgia, but grew up around Oklahoma Hills. He was a loner most of the time but didn't hesitate to team up with the likes of John Dillinger and other notorious killers to commit numerous bank robberies and murder numerous law enforcement officers in the Midwest and West South Central States of the United States. His criminal career started in Missouri in 1925, where he robbed a bank, was caught and eventually sent to prison in Jefferson City, Missouri. He was later paroled in 1929 and vowed "never to be taken alive". He continued to rob banks in Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Indiana. He was later declared "Public Enemy #1" after the death of John Dillinger and the events of the "Kansas City Massacre" in June of 1933; a group of law enforcers escorting a prisoner were machine gunned by a party of criminals in what was either a badly botched jailbreak attempt or a highly successful syndicate hit, resulting in the deaths of the prisoner and four lawmen. While Floyd swore until his last day that he wasn't involved, the FBI was convinced that he was one of the gunmen. Staying on the move for over a year, Floyd slipped through a number of ambushes until his luck ran out near East Liverpool, Ohio, in October of 1934. On the road with Adam Richetti, another man accused of being at the massacre, Floyd's party crashed their car in a dense fog disabling the vehicle. Attempting to hide out while their female companions arranged a tow, the gangsters were spotted, resulting in a shootout with local law, Richetti was captured, the local police chief took a bullet through his foot, and Floyd was on the run in the woods. From here, multiple sources confirm that A) a detachment of FBI men led by Melvin Purvis, himself famous for taking out Dillinger, arrived on the scene, B) the FBI men requisitioned two Thompson submachine guns, identified by serial number and including this very Tommy Gun, from the East Liverpool Police Department, and C) Pretty Boy Floyd caught a fatal case of lead poisoning from Purvis' team on October 22nd, 1934. From here, things get fuzzy. The FBI and local law enforcement have their own version of events, as do some of the participants. As the locals told it, one of their own, a retired lawman and decorated WWI marksman Chester Smith non-lethally dropped Floyd with 2 well aimed shots with a Winchester rifle, and when he got back up again the FBI opened up, putting the gangster down permanently. In later years, Smith gave his own version of events, in which Floyd didn't get back up; after his two shots, Purvis and his men closed distance on the incapacitated gangster, asked Floyd for a confession about Kansas, and when they were rebuffed, cut him down with one of their Thompsons on Purvis' direct order. The FBI version of events was that Purvis' team found Floyd without any local assistance, and proceeded to shoot him down when he tried to come at them with a .45 caliber pistol. After the event, Purvis' team returned the Thompson to the inventory of the East Liverpool Police Department, which kept the item in their inventory until 1974 when it was acquired by the Law Enforcement Ordnance Company and it later entered the collection of Tom Keefe in 1979 and then Buddy Oden in 1992. This particular machine gun is a very late production model as only 15,000 were manufactured in total with this one being serial number "14033". Almost all of them were later converted into the M1928A1 configuration. The receiver is marked "MODEL OF 1921/14033" along with the standard five-line factory markings: "THOMPSON SUBMACHINE GUN/CALIBRE 45 AUTOMATIC COLT CARTRIDGE/MANUFACTURED BY/COLT'S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO./HARTFORD CONN. U.S.A." The right side is marked "AUTO-ORDNANCE CORPORATION/NEW YORK U.S.A." followed by the standard five-line patent dates. The matching trigger housing is marked: "FULL-AUTO" and "SINGLE" along with "FIRE" and "SAFE" and is serial numbered "14033" on the underside. This model is an "AC" version which identifies it as a standard grade with the patented "CUTTS" compensator on the barrel. It also has the distinctive finned barrel, fully adjustable Lyman tangent rear sight with sight protectors, the walnut vertical fore grip, and the detachable walnut buttstock with the butt trap which holds an original Thompson oiler. The gun is complete with one blued 50-round drum magazine.

Rating Definition:

Excellent with 95% plus of the original blue finish overall, edge and high spot wear overall, and blue loss on the very front edge of the receiver, the right side behind the ejection post and on the underside/upper area behind the pistol grip. The wood components all have a nice matching dark brown oil finish with only a few minor handling marks on the underside of the buttstock. A very rare and historically significant/documented Thompson Model 1921 SMG taken into the field for one of the notable incidents of the "Public Enemy" era of American history and possibly the very weapon that did in one of the most notorious gangsters of the Great Depression. NOTE: This item is restricted as a National Firearms Act (NFA), fully transferable Class 3, which is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (BATFE) that is classified as a "Curios or Relic" as defined in 27 CFR, 478.11. These weapons are still subject to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 and 27 CFR part 478.

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