Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1590: Inscribed North American Arms Model 1911 Prototype Pistol

Auction Date: December 4, 2021

Unique and Rare "Prototype" Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Identified to North American Arms Company Employee Ernest J. Evans

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Estimated Price: $20,000 - $35,000

Unique and Rare "Prototype" Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Identified to North American Arms Company Employee Ernest J. Evans

Manufacturer: North American Arms
Model: 1911
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: in the white
Grip: walnut checkered
Item Views: 263
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 300
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

This is an extremely rare and unique example of a North American Arms Company "Prototype" Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol. In July 1918, the U.S. Government issued a contract for 500,000 M1911 pistols to the North American Arms Co. Ltd. of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The North American Arms Co. leased the Ross Rifle plant to do the manufacturing, and the U.S. Government was to supply all the raw materials. However, due to wartime material shortages, they only supplied enough material to produce approximately 100 sets of prototype or tool room parts. Due to the WWI Armistice, the contract was canceled in December of 1918 with no pistols being fully completed or ever accepted by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Ordnance Salvage Board did eventually accept/reclaim this large lot of parts and assemblies as part of the contract termination settlement, and they were later disposed of. Some time later, those 100 sets of parts were assembled into complete pistols that were uniquely marked with only a controlling serial number on the left rear section of the slide along with the factory markings also on the left side of the slide. This specific pistol is obviously a prototype or tool-room set up example as the major components are still in the white while the smaller parts are blued, and all of them are fully machined. The only markings are on the left side of the slide, "ERNEST J. EVANS/1-1918 - N.A.A. QUE." The "N.A.A. QUE." is the abbreviation for North American Arms, Quebec. Evans' identity and association with North American Arms Company is documented on p. 220 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols" by Meadows and Ellis, which states "On November 1, 1918, Mr. E.J. Evans and Mr. C.R. Weber, both representing North American, attended a meeting held at the Bridgeport Ordnance District office for the purpose of resolving manufacturing differences and tolerances." An Ernest J. Evans in Quebec is also listed as "Commanderie et Prieuré William de la More le Martyre No 25 de l’Ordre du Temple" in 1913 and 1922, which appears to be the leader of a Canadian Free Mason's lodge, but additional information on this individual as well as the company is illusive. The pistol itself is beautifully machined, and the configuration of the parts and components are identical to the standard Colt Model 1911s. It has blued small parts such as the barrel bushing, magazine release, hammer, grip safety, thumb safety, and slide stop. The pistol is very well machined, polished, and assembled unlike others we have seen, which may indicate this was actually one of the factory produced and assembly models. The hammer is a wide version very similar to the Colt production models, and the grip panels are the standard WWI diamond checkered walnut versions. The magazine is a blued half-tone pattern magazine which has the letter "R" on the lip of the base plate. Provenance: The Gus Cargile Collection

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine with all the major components still in their original white except for the hammer, grip safety, slide stop lever and thumb safety, which are all blued. The pistol itself has dried grease along the edge of the parts and barrel from where it has been sitting. The grips are very fine with loose unstaked grip escutcheons on both panels. Underneath the grip on the top left of the frame is scratched "5810/57" over "PSE" over "JULY 14/58". Mechanically excellent. Quite possibly a one-of-a-kind North American Arms attributed Prototype M1911 pistol.

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