Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1477: Hollywood Screen-Used Colt Model 1921 Thompson Submachine Gun

Auction Date: December 5, 2020

Documented Hollywood Screen-Used Colt Model 1921 Thompson Submachine Gun, Class III/NFA C&R Fully Transferrable Machine Gun with Accessories

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $65,000

Documented Hollywood Screen-Used Colt Model 1921 Thompson Submachine Gun, Class III/NFA C&R Fully Transferrable Machine Gun with Accessories

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1921 Thompson
Type: Machine gun
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 10 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 4590
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 336
Class: Class III

One of the most famous sub-machine guns in the world, the Thompson SMG rates as one of the truly signature American weapons. While advancements in manufacturing techniques and materials would allow later designs to match or exceed the Thompson's performance, none of them have managed to do the job with the same level of style and craftsmanship. The Thompson, a product of old-school hand craftsmanship, is virtually synonymous with the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression, being found on both sides of the law during the "gangland" era of American history, and also serving on all Allied fronts of World War II, where it stood tall among its more cost-effective stamped steel substitutes. This particular Thompson has an interesting connection to America's gangland history, and especially to the pop culture perception of Prohibition and the organizations that made the Roaring 20s roar. Per the records in Herigstad's "Colt Thompson Submachine Gun" (page 390), this Thompson was part of the inventory of Stembridge Gun Rentals of Hollywood, California. The armorer to the stars, Stembridge rented out firearms to about every film operation in Hollywood, supplying both vintage original arms and custom special items for about every genre of film known in America. Stembridge's Thompsons were seen in any number of gangster films, shaping the public perception of the era. In particular, this Thompson is documented by number as one of seven (four from Stembridge, three from Centre Firearms) supplied for the classic American film "The Godfather". Regarded as a masterpiece not just of its home genre but of cinema as a whole, The Godfather prominently features the classic Thompson in one of film's most memorable scenes, when Sonny Corleone is gunned down by a squad of Thompson-wielding gangsters at a toll booth in a brutal escalation of the war between the Corleone Family and the other Families of New York. While the Herigstad listing does not specify any other films this Thompson was used for, it notes "This original batch of Thompsons appeared in most all the Hollywood Gangster movies up to present". In terms of total life, this Thompson is noted as having been held by Stembridge from 1932 until about 1999, and the list of films in which it might have been used is incredibly long. "1921A" pattern blade front and folding Lyman rear sights, with the signature finned barrel (note: the arm is documented as originally sold as a 1921A, converted to a 1921AC by Stembridge, and later restored to A configuration). The receiver is marked with the model and five-line Colt address on the left side, and the Auto-Ordnance patents and address on the right, and the trigger group is numbered to match beneath the stock, and fitted with a set of fully functional selector and safety switches. Internally, the bolt is equipped with a mobile firing pin and a brass "Blish lock" device, as well as a wide spring and spring guide; the felt-padded oiler has been discarded. The detachable stock is unnumbered, and fitted with a trapdoor buttplate. Included with the Thompson are two stick magazines, an Auto-Ordnance Type L drum magazine, and a hardwood display stand.

Rating Definition:

Fine, with 95% high polish refinished blue, showing a few areas of rust on the barrel, buttplate, and inside the magazine channels, some finished-over pitting on the concealed surfaces, and mild scratches and polishing marks overall. The retention pin is absent from the front sight, and there is some play in the rear sight. The wood has been cleaned and reoiled, showing a number of dings and scratches but remaining solid overall. Mechanically excellent. 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) 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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