Lot #1327
Lot #1329

Lot 1328: One of a Kind Display of WWII Liberator Pistols and CIA Deer Gun

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: August 26, 2023

Lot 1328: One of a Kind Display of WWII Liberator Pistols and CIA Deer Gun

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: August 26, 2023

Estimated Price: $90,000 - $140,000
Price Realized:

A) Unique Documented Developmental FP-45 Model 2 Liberator Pistol

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: bright
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

It is a privilege and an honor for Rock Island Auction Company to be able to offer the most significant, irreplaceable, one of a kind display that illustrates pre-production through production models of the historic World War II Liberator pistol through the C.I.A. Deer Gun, the successor to the Liberator pistol. This is the only display of its kind extant containing the most desirable evolutionary examples on the planet of ten different Liberator pistols, accessories and a C.I.A. Deer Gun contained on a rotating circular platform with three columns of acrylic, allowing viewing of every example from all angles. This well constructed display would make a fine centerpiece in any prominent military firearms collection, and would add immense value to any collection as a whole. The ten Liberators include an incredibly rare example, what is possibly the very first prototype, through the 1,000,000th (last) Liberator made, and a complete evolution of extremely rare pre-production and production models in between. Once a part of author Ralph Hagan's collection and assembled by him, this display was awarded "One of The Ten Best Arms Exhibits" at an N.R.A. meeting, number 407, and proudly exhibits its included NRA silver medal. Where would one go to find another one of these? Ralph Hagan had an interest in pistols since childhood. He started collecting World War II pistols in 1970 and purchased his first Liberator in 1975, prompting his wife, Marilyn, to say "That's the ugliest gun I've ever seen, but I like it". The hunt was on for more Liberators and Mr. Hagan eventually specialized in the Liberator pistol. In 1988, his World War II pistol collection was completed and he later wrote the book "The Liberator Pistol" to share his important findings. Mr. Hagan passed away in 2006, and his book still stands today as a go to reference for the FP-45 Liberator pistol. Conceived, developed and manufactured in 1942, the "Flare Projector, 45 Caliber" (FP-45) pistol, named as such in order to hide its real purpose, was intended to be a cheap and easy way to produce a small and concealable single shot pistol that could be dropped behind enemy lines to resistance, SOE and OSS forces that would enable them to kill an occupying enemy soldier and capture their rifle. They were made cheaply as constructed from sheet metal stampings (excluding some of these prototypes offered) that were spot welded together with a smooth bore barrel and used a single shot firing mechanism which is located on the rear of the pistol. The Guide Lamp Division of General Motors was tapped to produce the firearm. While inexperienced with arms production, Guide Lamp stepped up admirably and cranked out 1,000,000 of the deadly little contraptions in a matter of a few months. Oh by the way, the one and only real deal, documented, 1,000,000th Liberator pistol is included in this display. Starting with the "A" gun in the lot, this is an excellent example of a scarce World War II Liberator FP-45 Model 2 pistol. After the short lived Model 1's misfiring problem, a guide pin was installed on top of the cocking knob and a small hole was drilled into the top of the breech block. This modification would prevent the cocking knob from turning as it traveled toward the breech block. This FP-45 would be known as the Model 2. Upon test firing it was evident that the modification was not strong enough to absorb the recoil. The guide pins would become loose or break from the mountings. It has a heavy cast aluminum cocking handle which is rotated to the side to allow loading through a gate. The base of the grips is hollowed out to hold 9 more rounds. The pistol is devoid of markings. This exact Model 2 Liberator pistol is photographed and described in detail on page 57 of Ralph Hagan's book "The Liberator Pistol". Along with the display, NRA silver medal, ammunition boxes, an original instruction manual and accessories, five sealed copies of Ralph Hagan's book "The Liberator Pistol" are also included, and an immensely important historical handwritten letter from Lt. Fred Thacker, U.S. Army, who was the military representative on the FP-45 project at Guide Lamp during production and was presented the 1,000,000th FP-45 Liberator pistol, the last production example, that is included with this incredible grouping!

Rating Definition:

Excellent with only some slight discoloration on the metal from age. Mechanically excellent.



B) Extremely Rare and Unique Documented, Possibly the Very First, Pre-Production Prototype FP-45 Liberator Pistol, as Manufactured by Inland Division of General Motors

Manufacturer: Inland
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: red oxide
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is included as one of five unique pre-production prototype FP-45 pistols made at the Inland plant in Dayton, Ohio, and is believed to possibly be the very first example of the grouping. Upon inception the Liberator pistol was a classified "secret" and in order to keep it a closely guarded secret, the decision was made to call it a Flare Projector, or simply referred to as the FP-45. A design was drawn up and a small experimental room was located at the Inland Manufacturing Division of General Motors Corp. in Dayton, Ohio. It is here that the first prototype was made. The small prototype reportedly had a 3 1/2 inch barrel length and was very hard to hold because of it's size. The decision was made to add one half inch to the barrel length, bringing it to 4 inches as seen on this example. After many test firings, the pistol was judged acceptable. Inland produced a small handful of unique prototypes, this pistol being one of them, before final blue prints were sent to other General Motors plants for use in manufacturing the various parts for this pistol. All parts were given "cover names" in order to conceal their real purpose. While the basic blue prints were being drawn up, the Chief of the Military Intelligence Service requested that an order for 1,000,000 pistols be submitted, thus starting the storied history of the Liberator pistol. After Inland would not accept the task of manufacturing the FP-45 due to being fully committed to production of the M1 Carbine, the task was given to the Guide Lamp plant in Anderson, Indiana. The visible parts used in manufacturing of this pre-production prototype are not the stamped type used on the subsequent models. Scribe marks showing where to cut and drill various parts still show. Gas welding was used instead of spot-welding. The pistol has a red oxide finish, the breechblock has square corners, the lower part of the trigger guard is supported by one long and two small indentations in each hand grip instead of four studs to hold the hand grips together, the cocking knob has a large hole through the center of it and the magazine plate has a square hole instead of the usual half round stamp hole. This pistol is pictured in "The Liberator Pistol" by Ralph Hagan on pages 51-52 and on the back cover. The book states, "This handmade pistol was used as a basic design for the final product. It has many features of the final product, but changes were later made to improve production ease and reliability. It was made by George Hyde either at his shop in Brooklyn or the Inland plant in Dayton, Ohio, or at both places." The book further states, "This pistol was purchased from the estate of a retired General Motors employee from Dayton, Ohio. Paul Hamisch, who was a draftsman on this project at Guide Lamp [incorrect, at Inland] and worked with Mr. Hyde, feels that this was the first Liberator pistol made." An extremely rare opportunity to own possibly the very first prototype Liberator pistol ever made!

Rating Definition:

Excellent overall with the majority of its red oxide finish and some scattered light scratches. Mechanically excellent. What an addition to the "I thought I had it all" World War II collection. This specimen, in the writer's opinion, is one of the most significant World War II pistols in existence!



C) Exceptional and Unique FP-45 Liberator Pistol with Unknown Inspection Stamp

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: steel
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is an exceptional example of a desirable standard production World War II Model 3 FP-45 Liberator pistol, with an unknown inspection stamp located on the rear of the barrel strap just below the loading gate. The "Unknown Stamp" on this exact pistol is photographed in Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol" on page 60. After it was determined that the Model 2's guide pin was not strong enough to absorb the shock of the recoil, a much stronger cast zinc cocking knob was produced with the guide pin cast directly into it, as well as the firing pin and guide rod. When the Model 3 was test fired it performed flawlessly. The only real production differences found in the Model 3 are the 3 and 4 hole variations; the right grip would have 1 or 2 holes and the left always had 2 holes. In some cases the holes were referred to as oil holes. They could be used for oiling the internal parts, however the real purpose was to align the pistol during assembly. This particular example is a 3 hole variation.

Rating Definition:

Excellent with only light dings and scuffs. Mechanically excellent.



D) Incredibly Rare, Documented, Exceptional FP-45 Liberator Pistol in its Original Sealed Unopened Box

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is a super rare example of a Liberator pistol that is still sealed in its original wax coated box from July or August of 1942 and has never been opened. Accompanying this pistol is an x-ray which shows the pistol and ten rounds of ammunition as they sit inside the box, as originally factory packed. This exact pistol as sealed in its box as well as the included x-ray are photographed in Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol" on page 90. An incredibly rare opportunity to own a true time capsule FP-45 Liberator pistol that has been sealed in it's original box for over 80 years!

Rating Definition:

New as sealed in its original box. The box is excellent, with a few small handling marks and age darkened patina on the thick wax outer coating. This writer does not recall ever seeing another still sealed in its box!



E) Incredibly Historic Documented 1,000,000th World War II FP-45 Liberator Pistol, the Last Production Example, with 1942 Dated Guide Lamp Presentation Inscription to U.S. Army Lieutenant Fred B. Thacker

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is just an unbelievably historic pistol, the 1,000,000th documented production World War II FP-45 Liberator pistol, and the very last Liberator pistol ever produced; signifying the completion of the contract for 1,000,000 of these pistols. It took less than 12 weeks for the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors to produce the 1,000,000 Liberator pistols, a massive undertaking, performed by 300 workers working 24 hours, 7 days a week. This historic 1,000,000th production pistol was presented to Lt. Fred Thacker, U.S. Army. Lt. Thacker was the military representative on the FP-45 project at Guide Lamp during production. In order to document this as the 1,000,000th pistol, Mr. Thacker had the right side grip engraved as follows, "1,000,000 LIBERATOR/1942 GUIDE LAMP GMC/FRED B. THACKER/US ARMY 0360133". This pistol otherwise presents itself as a standard Model 3, 4 hole with cocking knob mold number 50 (reference page 58 of Hagan's Liberator book). There are no other special markings on the pistol. To further document this pistol, it is accompanied by original letters (dated between 1994-1995) between Mr. Ralph Hagan and Fred Thacker verifying that it is indeed the 1,000,000th FP-45 Liberator pistol produced, that it was in Fred Thacker's possession from 1942 until selling it to Hagan at the time of the letters, a brief history of the pistol and his involvement in the project, and terms for the sale of the pistol to Mr. Hagan. In one of the letters, Fred Thacker states, "The pistol that you have is the one millionth unit accepted by me for the completion of the contract. The assembly line was stopped and left over components were scrapped. The time to produce 1,000,000 units was 12 weeks." This exact pistol is photographed and described on page 58 of Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol". This is an extremely rare opportunity to own the last documented production FP-45 Liberator pistol, number "1,000,000"; a symbol of one of the most impressive undertakings in the history of American manufacturing, and a significant piece of World War II history! Provenance: The Lieutenant Fred B. Thacker Collection

Rating Definition:

Very fine with some light spotting and extremely thin finish. The inscription is excellent. Mechanically excellent. Do not miss this opportunity to acquire the one and only 1,000,000th and very last production FP-45 Liberator pistol made, it may not present itself again for decades!



F) Unique Documented FP-45 Liberator Pistol with "F" Inspection Stamps

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

Only a small amount of these pistols were stamped with the letter "F", probably an inspectors mark indicating if something was found wrong and later corrected and passed reinspection. They were marked on top of the barrel strap and on the rear of the barrel strap just below the loading gate. This pistol has circled letter "F" inspection stamps. These inspection stamps are photographed in Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol" on page 60, in which the top barrel strap marking of this exact pistol is seen. An exceptional Model 3 with "F" inspection marks.

Rating Definition:

Very fine, with a few minor dings and scratches and some scattered light freckling. Mechanically excellent.



G) Unique Documented "Demonstrator" FP-45 Liberator Pistol

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: aluminum
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This Liberator pistol is a Model 3 and was possibly a "show and tell" pistol. It has been painted with aluminum paint, the hole on the right side has been enlarged to show the sear operation and it has the number "3" stamped on the front of the trigger guard. It appears to have been fired a number of times. This exact pistol is photographed and described on page 63 of Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol".

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retains approximately 70% of the aluminum paint. The trigger feels loose and needs to be pulled back out after discharge, however the action otherwise functions properly. It's not exactly known how it was used, but it obviously earned it's keep.



H) Extremely Rare Documented Pre-Production Prototype Model 1 FP-45 Liberator Pistol, as Manufactured by Inland Division of General Motors

Manufacturer: Inland
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is one of five pre-production prototype FP-45 pistols made at the Inland plant in Dayton, Ohio. The Inland plant is also where the drawings for the Model 1 were made and when the drawings were finished, they were sent to other General Motors plant, Guide Lamp, for parts manufacture and assembly. In late May 1942 the various parts started flowing into the Guide Lamp facility. The parts were assembled and spot-welded and the completed product was the Model 1 FP-45. The Model 1 FP-45 was short lived, however when it started misfiring in the live-firing room. The problem was caused by the cocking knob occasionally turning slightly after the trigger was pulled causing the firing pin to fall out of alignment with the breechblock firing hole, an erratic malfunction that could prove fatal in a combat situation. This pistol is photographed in Ralph Hagan's "The Liberator Pistol" book on pages 54 and 55, in which it states this pistol was kept by Paul Hamisch, one of two skilled draftsmen involved with the FP-45 project at the Inland facility, and the "H" inscribed on the right of the cocking knob was done by him. Page 39 of the aforementioned book has a quote in a 1990 dated letter addressed directly from Paul Hamisch to the author, whom he sold it to directly, indicating this is one of five prototype pistols of its kind made at Inland. The right grip also has nine "kill" style notches inscribed in it. Provenance: The Paul Hamisch Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent with only a few light scratches and some areas of smooth brown surface patina. The trigger does not properly cock, otherwise the cocking knob retains its spring tension. These opportunities do not present themselves everyday, and the chances of another example turning up for public sale are slim to none. This pre-production prototype Inland Model 1 FP-45 Liberator pistol is an extremely rare and important firearm!



I) Unique Documented Cutaway FP-45 Liberator Pistol

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This pistol has the right side grip handle removed showing the internal workings and construction, and is likely one of the only factory examples still in existence today. This exact pistol is photographed in Ralph Hagan's "The Liberator Pistol" book on page 88.

Rating Definition:

Very good with scattered minor dings, dents, and scattered mild pitting. Mechanically needs work, the pin for the breech block spring has a tendency to fall out.



J) Documented FP-45 Liberator Pistol with Unique German Proof Marks

Manufacturer: Guide Lamp
Model: Liberator
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: grey
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This particular pistol is marked with the post-war German spread eagle over "N" proof, followed by "82", the year it was proofed and the Ulm antler proof on the left top of the barrel strap. The top of the barrel is stamped "45 ACP" with an import mark and "492" (serial number). Approximately 40 of these pistols reportedly found their way back to the U.S. as purchased by U.S. service personnel stationed in Germany in the early 80s. Relevant information and the German proofs of this exact pistol are photographed in Ralph Hagan's book, "The Liberator Pistol" on page 61.

Rating Definition:

Very good plus with some scattered light pitting. Mechanically excellent.



K) Extremely Rare C.I.A. Deer Gun Pistol

Manufacturer: American Machine & Foundry
Model: Deer Gun
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 9 mm Luger
Barrel: 2 inch round tapered
Finish: bright
Grip: metal
Stock:
Item Views: 1787
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 272
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is an extremely rare assassination pistol as manufactured in the early 1960's for the C.I.A.'s Clandestine Operation and was the successor to the Liberator pistol. According to Chapter 6, "The CIA's Deer Gun" in the book "Zips, Pipes and Pens" by David Truby, the Deer Gun was designed by the then legendary ordnance designer Russell J. Moure, the chief engineer for American Machine & Foundry's special firearms division. The Deer Gun was intended as the successor to the FP-45 Liberator pistol and were made between 1962-1963. By 1964, the Deer Gun was listed in the C.I.A.'s special weapons inventory and carried a regular stock number (139-H00-9108). After President Kennedy's assassination, congress passed a law that all Clandestine devices be destroyed. Almost all of the Deer Guns were destroyed and of the 1,000 produced, according to collector/historian Keith Melton only about 20-25 remain in circulation. Approximately 150 reportedly were sent to Southeast Asia for field testing according to a consensus of sources. Although there is no official record that any of these pistols were used beyond controlled non-combat testing, a U.S. military officer disagreed saying that he accompanied a patrol of U.S. and Vietnamese Special Forces who were carrying the pistols for "active evaluation". Any other usage is undocumented. How this pistol came to be called the Deer Gun is a mystery. It has nothing to do with deer or hunting. It was suggested at one time that it was an Agency code name with sardonic reference to a survival weapon. It was packaged for "air drop" like the Liberator. The cost at the time to make the Deer Gun was $3.95. prompting one of Moure's colleagues at AMF to refer to it as "basically a crude, ugly, but damn decent four dollar zip gun for our Third World allies to use to kill bad guy soldiers." The Deer Gun measures 4 1/8 inches high, 5 inches long and has a 2 inch screw on rifled barrel. It weighs approximately 12 ounces. It has a one piece cast aluminum body with a raised cross-hatched grip area and dark blue steel barrel. Extra ammunition can be stored in the hollow grip. It has no trigger guard and the sight is a single grooved notch across the top of the receiver. The pistol has no markings to indicate its origin and all components were fabricated from non-domestic sources outside of the U.S. for further "operational denial", which is how the C.I.A. described its attempts to hide the weapons origin. To fire the pistol, the barrel is unscrewed, a cartridge inserted and the barrel is screwed back on. The cocking lever is then pulled back and the user pulls the trigger to fire. An extremely rare and little known Deer Gun pistol. The display includes a visual instruction manual of the Deer Gun. Provenance: The Ralph Hagan Collection; Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Excellent plus overall with 99% plus original blue finish on the barrel and only a few scattered minor dings and very light scratches. Mechanically excellent. The display and accessories are in very fine condition. The display has a few cracked/separated and absent pieces of acrylic that act as retaining pieces all but one of the retaining screws are absent, but otherwise the display stands sturdy but needs work. This is a ONCE IN TEN lifetimes opportunity to acquire the most significant display ever gathered, or ever will be gathered, of the important World War II FP-45 Liberator pistol from the author and collector Ralph Hagan!



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