Spanish Firearms Manufacturers

Firearms identifications are of interest to those engaged in law enforcement and to gun collectors, but from quite different points of view. The law enforcement officer is chiefly concerned with bringing to justice persons who have committed crimes, while the collector is interested in guns because of a fascination that only a gun collector can fully understand. Both need to know all that they can learn about firearms and it is hoped that the material here presented will be useful to both groups. The work makes no pretense of being a complete treatise on firearms investigations or a manual of identification procedures, nor does it pretend to be complete as to measurements and photographs that might have been made. It does attempt to set forth the principles of firearms identification from the standpoint of the markings which may be found on fired bullets and shells. Large areas of the general subject were intentionally omitted. In addition to the very considerable amount of material presented here, the author knows of many hand guns of which he could not obtain specimens, and no doubt there are many makes and models of guns of which he has never heard. It is believed, however, that the types likely to be encountered are fairly well covered.

The justification for the publication of this work, if one is needed, is that it contains much material that is unavailable elsewhere and it presents a more nearly complete account of rifling characteristics as they actually exist than has ever before been compiled. The data here presented represent actual performance rather than manufacturers' specifications. The book also represents, to a certain extent at least, the fulfillment of a desire to pass on to others some of the basic information accumulated over a considerable number of years, in the hope that they will find it useful.

For over thirty years the author has devoted considerable time to the making of firearms identifications and to other applications of scientific methods of crime investigations for the law enforcement agencies of the State of Wisconsin. As his position was that of Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Course in Chemistry at the State University this work constituted an „extracurricular" activity, but one which seemed important because no one else in his state was doing it, it needed to be done, and the law enforcement agencies, from the police officer on the beat to the State Supreme Court, appreciated the service. This activity arose from the fact that the state, at that time, had made no provision for scientific investigations of crimes other than the employment of a State Toxicologist (for a few years), and there were urgent demands for such work.

The author's work along these lines began in 1923 when he assisted in the solution of the Magnuson bomb case, in which metallographic evidence was used for the first time in a murder case. Soon thereafter he was importuned to study the evidence in a homicide involving the use of a rifle. At this time Calvin Goddard was the only man in the country really qualified to make such investigations on a truly scientific basis, but the local authorities felt that they could not afford to pay his fees - particularly, it is presumed, if they could get a professor from the state university to do it for next to nothing! The work was undertaken, with no other equipment than that to be found in a well-equipped laboratory of physical chemistry (cameras, microscopes, measuring devices, etc. ), and it resulted in securing a confession of the murder during the course of the trial. The publicity resulting from these two cases brought others and it was soon realized that special equipment must be purchased and built to handle cases properly.

As the comparison microscope had just been introduced by Goddard for work in the firearms field, for which (unfortunately, as he and others later agreed) he coined the name „forensic ballistics," an attempt was made through him to acquire one of these instruments, but one of his associates (Waite) objected to his giving out any information. An appeal to the Bausch and Lomb Optical Company, however, brought results and the author's laboratory soon received the first instrument that they made for firearms identifications. As time went on, more and more equipment was added until a fairly well-equipped laboratory, containing some instruments that were unique, was available.

It was realized very early, however, that the state should have a State Crime Laboratory, well equipped and adequately staffed, to handle the many types of work that come up in criminal cases and a recommendation to this effect was made to the Wisconsin State Bar Association at their annual meeting in 1925. A resolution was adopted unanimously directing that a bill be introduced in the next session of the Legislature calling for the establishment of a State Crime Laboratory. The bill was introduced, but because of inadequate support it did not receive favorable action. This process was repeated at each session of the Legislature until favorable action was taken, and in 1947 the laboratory became an actuality with Charles M. Wilson, formerly an associate of Goddard at the Northwestern University Crime Laboratory and later Director of the Chicago Police Laboratory, as Superintendent. Since the establishment of this laboratory the author has done little work in the way of investigations but has had an opportunity, especially since his official retirement from his professorship at the university in 1952, to devote himself to research in the field of firearms investigations.

Much has been said and written about the identification of the type, make, and model of a firearm from „class characteristics," which involves a knowledge of the rifling specifications (and practices) used by different manufacturers, and of special features of construction which affect the markings to be found on fired shells. Because of differences of opinion and because of the unavailability of exact data concerning rifling characteristics as they actually exist, it seemed to the author that someone should make a comprehensive set of measurements on hand arms, covering all of the many makes, types, and models as far as the availability of specimens permitted. This was found to be quite an undertaking because many of the guns made in the last 75 or 100 years are still in existence and still usable and because many hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign-made guns were imported into this country, particularly after World War I. Therefore, no pretense of completeness is made. No measurements were made on rifles, which would have been desirable, although they are not as frequently used in the commission of crimes. But this would have extended the study by several years.

To start the work, methods for making the desired measurements were developed and the necessary equipment was either purchased or constructed. Three things soon became apparent: (a) many manufacturers who have exact specifications do not follow them closely, (b) many manufacturers apparently had no specifications, and (c) the author had a big job on his hands! As the work proceeded it was realized that here was a golden opportunity to secure photographs and information on guns that would be useful to collectors as well as to firearms examiners, so from that point on photographs were made of all the different makes and models that came to the laboratory for measurement. Unfortunately this procedure was not used right from the start and some interesting guns were returned to their owners without being photographed.

The determination of the names of the actual manufacturers of many foreign guns has been a task of great difficulty, and in a number of cases it has been impossible. Often a foreign-made gun may carry only the name of a dealer or his trade mark, and sometimes it may bear no marking whatever. To complicate things further, different manufacturers have used the same name for guns that are quite unlike in construction as well as for some that appear to be copies of each other or of some other well-known firearm. Many of these guns, particularly those made in Belgium and Spain, were made in little shops, perhaps in the workmen's homes, and were sold to dealers who put their names on them. For example, a number of Spanish automatics have been encountered which bear the inscription on the slide: FABRIQUE D'ARMES DE GUERRE DE GRANDE PRECISION EIBAR, SPAIN. As a matter of fact, no manufacturing company of that name ever existed. This was exclusively an exporting company and not a manufacturer. Many other cases might be cited for guns made in Spain and in Germany. Of course this practice is not limited to Europe. It is a common practice in this country and has been for a hundred years or more. Scores of examples might be cited not only of guns bearing names that give no clue as to their maker, but also of guns bearing names of „manufacturers" that never existed. Some Spanish manufacturers not only made guns but also sold guns made by others, and it is difficult to ascertain which guns they actually manufactured. It is clear that Garate, Anitua y Cia. in Eibar was one of these as they certainly did not make all the guns that bear their trade mark. In Belgium the same practice was followed. L. Ancion Marx is a good example of a firm (and there were many others) who not only made some revolvers but who marketed a good many that they did not make. These were made, wholly or sometimes in part, in little shops and even in private homes in the city of Liege and in the surrounding country, particularly the upland of Herve, northeast of Liege. In the early part of the century this part of Belgium was a „beehive of activity" for firearms manufacture.

Now practically all of this industry is gone. During World Wars I and II the Germans destroyed all of the firearms industry in Belgium that they did not need for their own use, and Franco wiped out the industry in Spain when he came into power and decreed that there should be only three manufacturers of automatic pistols and only one of revolvers. (Fortunately, he made good choices as to who should be allowed to make firearms.*) Thus the manufacture of revolvers in these countries has virtually ceased, but many hundreds of thousands of guns made earlier are probably still in existence. And as long as they exist, and they are rather „nonperishable," they will be a problem to firearms examiners, though perhaps a joy to collectors.

*Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A., in Eibar, pistols only (Star); Unceta y Cia., in Guernica, pistols only (Astra) ; and Gabi-londo y Cia., in Elgoibar, pistols (Llama) and revolvers (Ruby). In 1958 Astra-Unceta y Cia. announced the manufacture of a .22 caliber revolver, the Cadix, so the original edict of Franco must have been modified. The company states that they will „make them in larger bores sometime in the future."

It might be thought that reliable information as to the names of firearms manufacturers could be obtained from the Government Proof Houses, but this is not the case because, in the course of war and revolution, their records have been destroyed. So they are of little help. The amount of reliable information from Government Ministries is also quite limited, perhaps for the same reason and because of changing personnel. Some of the manufacturers who are still in existence have been very helpful, but they too are often unable to give specific information that is desired concerning products made long ago. The Spanish and Belgian patents have been of some assistance, but they do not give much information as to the actual manufacturers.

The word „patent" as it relates to Spanish firearms is likely to be confusing. Unpatented arms may be marked „patent" or „patented." Where a patent number does appear it may refer to the general design of the arm, or to some design feature or to the trade mark or trade name. The legitimate design patents are usually prefaced by „Co." (for Concedido) and during the period 1915 to 1922, when there was a virtual epidemic of new Spanish pistols, these patent numbers ranged from 60,000 to 71,000. Trade mark patents usually bear the prefix „Mar." (for Marca) and in the same period they ran from 30,000 to 40,000. But these designating prefixes do not appear on the firearms, only in the patent literature. There is still another type of number that was applied to design models, roughly equivalent to the German D.R.G.M. (Deutsche Reich Gebrauch Muster). These do not seem to have a pattern and all of them center in the range 2,000 to 4,000 for the period 1915 to 1922. Some of these apply to pistols.

As pointed out, the number appearing on a Spanish firearm may relate to one of several kinds of patents, and only a search of the Spanish patents will reveal which it is. Some examples are the following:

1. The number 39,391 is a patent number appearing on the slide of all Colonial pistols examined. A study of Spanish patents reveals that Pat. Mar. 39.391 was issued in November 1920 to Etxezarraga Abaitua y Cia. of Eibar.

2. The patent number appearing on the slides of some specimens of the Libia is 69.094. This turns out to be Pat. Co. 69.094, issued to Beistegui Hermanos of Eibar on Feb. 19, 1919, and is a design patent covering automatic pistols without respect to any trade name. A later patent, not appearing on the pistol, is Mar. 36.386, issued to Beistegui Hermanos on Oct. l, 1919, and covers the trade name Libia for use on automatic pistols and revolvers.

3. The JO-LO-AR bears the numbers 68027 and 70235. Both turn out to be design patents. Pat. Co. 68.027 was issued to D. Toribio Arrizabalaga y Ibarzabal on Jan. 8, 1919. Pat. Co. 70.235 was issued to D. Jose de L. Arnaiz on September 12, 1919. According to the Eibar Proof House, and other sources, the pistol was actually produced by Hijos de Calixto Arrizabalaga in Eibar. The 6.35 mm. SHARP SHOOTER (some are marked SHARP SOOTER ), made by the same firm, bears the patent number 68,027. This pistol bears a close resemblance to the JO-LO-AR. It is probable (but not confirmed) that the name JO-LO-AR was derived from the name of D. José de L. Arnaiz, to whom the second patent (No. 70,235) was issued.

Trade marks are often very helpful in identifying guns. But here again we have the same problem, i.e., Is a particular trade mark on a gun that of a dealer or that of a manufacturer, or perhaps of both? Garate, Anitua y Cia., already mentioned, is a good example. Although they made guns, their trade mark is found on guns that they definitely did not make. In spite of these uncertainties we believe that trade marks and other identification marks do have some value and we have taken the opportunities presented to accumulate a large number of them and to reproduce them here. There are some which we have not been able to identify, but perhaps someone else may be able to. No doubt we have identified some dealers' marks as those of manufacturers, and vice versa.

Despite these and other difficulties, considerable information has been accumulated, enough to warrant publication, we believe. Certainly there are many omissions, due to lack of information, and no doubt there are errors. In a number of cases our sources of information disagree.

Since quite a number of makes and many models of hand guns have not been available for measurement and photographing, there are important gaps in our information. To fill these gaps, in part at least, a collection of photographs from other sources has been made and many of these photographs are here reproduced. While it cannot be expected that all of the makes and models of hand guns that have been made in the past century can be photographed and published in a single volume, it is hoped that the information presented here is sufficient to be useful to both law enforcement agencies and collectors. It will be noted that very few of the revolvers made in the U.S. in the last quarter century are shown. This omission was deliberate because these firearms are so well known, or the information is so easily obtainable elsewhere.

Part IV of Volume II contains the photographs taken by the author. Chapter 1, Volume II, is devoted to automatic pistols and Chapter 2, Volume II, to revolvers and nonautomatic pistols. These are, in each case, arranged by caliber and alphabetized according to name and model of the arm. The name and location of the manufacturer (or source) are also given, where known. Serial numbers are also given as they help to date an arm or model. Both sides of each arm are shown, together with a scale.

Part V of Volume II consists of reproductions of photographs and illustrations of hand guns, most of which have been unavailable to the author, and are arranged alphabetically. These were obtained from various sources: donated or purchased photographs, loaned photographs or negatives, catalog and circular illustrations issued by manufacturers, etc.

The work of measuring and photographing hand guns is continuing and considerable new material has accumulated since this book went to press. Of necessity it has been omitted.

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  • ambrosia
    What are the different principles in firearms identification?
    5 years ago
  • Manuel
    How much is pistola jo lo ar eibar?
    5 years ago
  • leardo
    What are problems encountered during fire arm identification?
    4 years ago

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