Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1572: Presentation Grade Savage M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun

Auction Date: December 7, 2019

Extremely Rare World War II Presentation Grade Savage M1A1 Class III/NFA C&R Thompson Submachine Gun

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

Extremely Rare World War II Presentation Grade Savage M1A1 Class III/NFA C&R Thompson Submachine Gun

Manufacturer: Savage Arms Corporation
Model: M1A1
Type: Machine gun
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 10 1/2 inch
Finish: high polish blue
Grip: walnut
Stock: highly figured walnut
Item Views: 4848
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 314
Class: Class III

This presentation grade M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun was manufactured by the Savage Arms Corporation in 1943 and was formerly part of the famed Champlin Fighter Museum small arms collection. It is a standard configured Savage M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun but was specially finished as a presentation piece. The serial number ("850004") indicates that it was the fourth M1A1 Thompson manufactured by Savage. The left side of the receiver is roll-stamped “THOMPSON SUBMACHINE GUN/CALIBER .45 M1A1/NO. 850004" below the rear sight. The Auto-Ordnance bullet trademark is roll-stamped on the top of the receiver ahead of the rear sight. "AUTO-ORDNANCE CORPORATION/BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT, U.S.A." is roll-stamped on the right side of the receiver below the rear sight. The left side of the trigger frame has the standard "FIRE < -> SAFE", "FULL/AUTO <-" and "->/SINGLE" markings. There are no Ordnance inspection or proof marks on the exterior of the gun and the serial number lacks a standard production letter prefix, characteristics indicating that this Thompson was intended as a presentation model. The gun has the standard Savage M1A1 features which include smooth barrel with no compensator, fixed rear sight with protective ears, late ejector spring, magazine latch, fire selector and safety and fixed stock. The barrel, receiver, trigger frame and small components all have a high gloss chemical blue finish. The receiver markings are highlighted in white. The forearm, pistol grip and stock are fancy grain burl walnut with a semi-gloss oil finish. A blank oval silver inscription plate is inlaid in the left side of the stock. This M1A1 is pictured and identified on pages 95 and 119 in the book “The Champlin Fighter Museum,” a softcover book published in 1991 by Champlin Press documenting the museum’s extensive aircraft and small arms collections. As explained in the publication, this machine gun was one of four M1A1s manufactured by Savage intended for presentation to President Franklin Roosevelt, Admiral Chester Nimitz, General Dwight Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur. “For some unknown reason none of these presentation models were delivered,” stated the museum. The placard used when the gun was on public display at the Champlin Fighter Museum is included, and this submachine gun exhibit is pictured on page 11 and was “considered to be one of the world’s finest.” The gun is also identified in Jim Thompson’s “Machine Guns” on page 212 and is described as an “extremely rare presentation Thompson M1A1.” Documents accompanying this Thompson indicate that it was displayed in the Savage Corporation Museum as a "lobby gun", was purchased from Savage by well-known Class III dealer J. Curtis Earl, and was displayed in the firearms gallery at the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona, until 1996 when it was purchased by the consignor. These documents include the following: a Freedom of Information Act request to the BATF asking for information about previous ownership of this gun; the 2013 BATF Freedom of Information Act response stating Serial No. 85004 was approved for a tax-exempt transfer on July 1973 and transferred by BATF Form 4 to the consignor by the Champlin Fighter Museum in 1996 and no records were available for Thompson Submachine Guns 850001-850003; and a letter to Savage employee John Callahan requesting information on Serial No. 850004 with the handwritten response, "I remember this gun in our lobby - However no records were kept by Savage except a list of ‘Lobby Guns’. All records were Auto Ord Records as the Thompson was made under contract". This may be the only existing example of a specially made World War II production Thompson Submachine Gun. The fact that the gun has Ordnance inspection marks, a special serial number, commercial grade blue finish and deluxe, fancy grade walnut stock, pistol grip and forearm make it a one-of-a-kind Thompson Submachine Gun that was significant enough for the Savage Corporation to display in the company lobby.

Rating Definition:

Excellent plus. This M1A1 remains in the original "presentation" condition and retains 98% plus of the high polish blue finish with a few very insignificant storage marks. The gun does not appear to have been fired. The fancy grade walnut stock, pistol grip, and forearm remain in excellent condition with a few very insignificant storage marks. This is a one-of-a kind presentation Savage M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun. NOTE: This weapon is a National Firearms Act (NFA), fully transferable Class 3, which is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (BATFE) under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 and 27 CFR part 478.

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