1940 Lithuanian Frankenschloss Suhl S

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This is a very unusual Luger.  It appears to have begun its career as a 1919-20 post War WWI from the Lazy Crown N proofs on the receiver. The barrel was replaced with a 98mm (4") which was a common practice with the implentation of the Treaty of Versailles. The barrel is a 7.65mm which tells us that it was not intended for use by the combat forces of the Wehrmacht yet it has the Eagle J and Eagle N proofs of the 1939 proof law which was only after April 1940. Antidotal identification of the gun as a Lithuanian Border Police. (1988)
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The Icon represented over the chamber of this Parabellum is said to represent the Pillars of Vilnias which is the capital of Lithuania. At the entrance to the Gates of the City is a four column arcade with a small copula and a cross which is said to be stylized into the Icon found on the Lithuanian Luger and Browning pistols. The pillars are also known as Pillars of  "Gediminas" which represents the ruins of the ancient castle that was build before Christian times. So there is both a secular and non-secular interpretation of this symbol. 

 

The barrel length is 4" (98mm) and is chambered for 7.65mm. The serial number appears on the front of the frame, under the barrel, on the on the bottom of the plate sear, the rear toggle and trigger.  The thumb safety is marked "Gesichert" and when exposed (safety down) means safe.

The extraordinary stamp (appears to be a roll stamped and not engraved) over the chamber is said to represent the pillars of Vilnias. Approximately 12 years ago in Louisville a Lithuanian gentlemen told us that these and the Belgian Browning's also similarly marked were issued to Border Police and Auxiliary Police after the German occupation.  The Frankenschloss Suhl stamping is also unique to these model Lugers and one other re-worked Luger we have seen.

Suhl is a town in the free State of Thuringia, Germany. In the Middle Ages the town was called “Waffenschmiede Europas” (centre of arms production in Europe). During WWII it also was the location for military armaments for the Wehrmacht. On April 3, 1945, American troops entered the city and ended the war for the residents of Suhl; and then firms such as Krieghoff, Anschutz, and Sauer and Son left and resettled in West Germany. The Americans took into custody and brought back to Bavaria several prominent weapons manufacturers including Fritz Walther (son of Carl Walther) and Heinrich Krieghoff. With subsequent Soviet troop occupation, nationalization of business enterprises began, weapons were stolen and shipped to Russia as reparations and the armaments plants were destroyed by the Soviets after being looted of anything valuable.
 
Some of the famous names of gun makers from Suhl are: Merkel, Haenel, Sauer, Simson, Meffert, Heym, Krieghoff and Schilling. Undoubtedly these major makers had many subcontractors that made parts or supplied components.  While the name Frankenschloss doesn't show up in any available history we contacted the City of Suhl to research through the City records of this firm. Although many records were destroyed by the Soviets we were told that this firm was a secondary gun maker that was licensed to re-build contract guns.
 
 

 Crown over "N" was a mark set forth in the German National Proof Law of 19 May 1891, which became effective 1 April 1893. The "N" was an abbreviation for Nitro, meaning smokeless powder. The crown over "N" proof mark was superseded in April of 1940 by an Eagle over N proof mark as set forth in the National Proof Law of 7 June 1939, which became effective 1 April 1940.  However, excluded from the Proof Law are weapons made, repaired or modified for military use exclusively.  Therefore this gun was not re-built for the Wehrmacht but for some other civilian or quasi-military contract.


Collectors enumerate the "Contract Guns" of the Pre-WWI era from the "Swiss", "Russian", "Bulgarian" to the "King Carlos the 1st" as the collectibles in that category.  Beyond those factory produced guns are the Swedish Prison Gun, the Lithuanian, the Spanish Guard and Swedish Air Force just to name a few of the Chamber symbols that appear on the Luger. None is the lesser gun to the advanced collector.
Note the Suhl Proof House Eagle J which means there has been a modification of the original gun and the late Eagle N (Nitro) proof telling us it was tested to fire after modification with modern ammo.
The serial number is three digits; all the Lithuanian Parabellums that have come through our possession have been three digits and had the Frankenschloss Suhl proof on the right of the receiver. The magazine is a 1920's style blued sleeve with the aluminum bottom. Most Commercial guns did not have serial numbers on the magazines, military guns had them marked with the serial number.
The most distinctive feature of these pistols is undoubtedly the toggle-lock mechanism, which holds the breech closed by locking in a manner not unlike the human knee, which can sustain a heavy weight when straight, but once bent is quite easy to continue to bend. The toggle joint in its straight position resists the rearward force of the detonating cartridge, then "buckles" after enough time has passed. When a round is fired the entire breech, barrel and toggle move straight rearward (on rails) until the toggle begins to ride up on a pair of cams that "breaks" the toggle (makes it bend at the joint). Once the toggle joint is no longer straight, it bends freely, allowing the bolt to come rearward, and the striker to be cocked. The spent cartridge is extracted by a combination extractor/loaded chamber indicator on the top of the toggle, is ejected as the toggle nears the end of its rearward free travel, returning, and a new round is stripped from the magazine and chambered as the toggle is driven back to the straight position by a spring.

Note the "87" (last two digits of the serial number) on the sear.  Note also the Crown N on the left side of the receiver, the breech block and the first toggle link. The Crown N was the proof adopted by the Proof Law of 1893 and was placed perpendicular to the line of the barrel until after WWI when it was placed parallel to the line of the barrel in the "Lazy N" configuration. All indicating this gun was built after WWI and proofed for non-military sale.

Several years ago when we saw our first Lithuanian that was marked with the Pillars of Gediminas, it too was a 7.65mm and marked Frankenschloss Suhl.  Subsequently we have had four Lithuanians all marked the same with 7.65mm barrels. Several Belgian Brownings with the same head stamp have been observed over the years all of which has been attributed as Lithuanian's by their sellers.

One of these came with a holster, a strange insignia that we have never identified and an antidotal statement it was from a Lithuanian border guard. If anyone knows the origins of this insignia please let us know what it is.

There appear to be a lot of conspiracy theories dating back to the 60's & 70's  from the "I know someone from Lithuania and he never saw one" to there seems to be enough in a block of numbers to suggest probability of existance is more than possible; (http://www.freeexistence.org/lith_luger_debate.html) regarding these guns but sometimes the simple explanation is the easiest. In the '60s the price of these Parabellum was not commensurate to collect blocks of guns, the machinery to head stamp in hardened steel, to create a ficticious company logo in Suhl and produce this conspiracy.

 

This Parabellum was brought into the Tulsa gun show by a middle aged man who brought his grandfather and spoke what sounded like Russian. The son stated his father was a resistance fighter in Poland and acquired the gun from a Lithuanian during the war.

Several years ago when we saw our first Lithuanian that was marked with the Pillars of Gediminas, it too was a 7.65mm and marked Frankenschloss Suhl.  Subsequently I have had three Lithuanians all marked the same with 7.65mm barrels.  One of these came with a holster, a strange insignia that we have never identified and the statement it was from a Lithuanian border guard.  


Lithuanian
The Parabellum in full recoil with the grips and side plate removed shows us that serial numbers continue to match, the inside of the gun is clean and fully serviceable. Although re-worked in a time that Mauser was salt-bluing its production guns this one appears to have been rust blued with the locking lever, trigger, magazine release, (ejector - right side) and thumb safety are nitrate or straw blued.  The classic Luger look.

Above Left: The strike mark on the bottom of the barrel right and the front of the receiver appears to be a re-stike. This and the absence of a serial number or gauge markings is a sure indicator of a barrel replacement. Above Right: Original grips are finely cut diamond shaped checkering made from walnut or in some cases beech wood. These grips are not serial numbered to the gun for Parabellums meant for the commercial market, however this quasi-military gun has the grips numbered and the magazine.

Obviously these guns were re-works with multiple initials and stamps inside the gun by which ever craftsmen put them back in service. The strike mark of the barrel alignment does not give a positive indication that the barrel was replaced. From the proof marks inside the stop well we found a Circle N which was a DWM proof marking from 1919-1921 period when DWM was producing guns before the Allied Commission put French inspectors into the DWM plant to monitor production. The 7.65mm calibre may have been the original barrel but the new proof marks on the barrel and absence of the serial number suggest a new barrel was installed.
On the left side of the breech block and 1st toggle link is the early Crown N (Nitro) proof  and laid on its side (Post WWI).  Below we can see the same parts that were again proofed with the Post 1940 Nitro proof. This is no dichotomy but rather tells us this was a Post WWI manufactured Parabellum that was reworked by Frankenschloss Suhl in the 1940's for the Lithuanians.

Our conclusion is that Frankenschloss was a smaller gun maker who obviously had access to military weapons and parts and perhaps was under contract to produce guns for the border guards in the commercial 7.65mm size.  They were more than a gun retailer but rather as a manufacturer they had access to the Suhl proof house which tested the guns and proofed them. We have more to learn about this.
 
This is a very fascinating gun that has a history yet to be fully explored. We know it was a 1940 re-work of a Post WWI Parabellum that was proofed in the Suhl Proof House by a firm of Frankenschloss in a 7.65mm calibre and attributed to a contract for the Lithuanian Zollenpolitzei (Border/Custom Police).  There are very few of these guns in collections and they rarely come out.

This Parabellum is offered for $3,895.00 over-the-counter with the reservation that the gun may be sold before being posted as such on the internet. We reserve the right to sell any internet offering to a direct sale and do not warrant the availability of any firearm that do not have a cash deposit. This gun may be withdrawn without notice for in-store sale.

Call for availability. Any questions or request for additional pictures email to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com
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