The Jieffeco pistol was designed by H. Rosier and, in its first form, appeared in about 1910. It is advertised in the ALFA Catalog of 1911. An earlier form was designed by Rosier around 1906-07, but this did not come on the market.
The Jieffeco pistols were made by Robar and DeKerkhove, in Liege, Belgium, under S.G.D.G. patent No. 24875. (S.G.D.G. = Patent Without Government Guarantee) The brand name (or „mark") Jieffeco was no doubt derived from the name Jannsen Fils et Cie., who owned it and for whom the pistols were made. This firm, long prominent as a dealer in various types of firearms, is no longer in business, having been liquidated in 1958.
The date of organization of Robar and DeKerkhove is not known, but in 1927 the name was changed to L. Robar and Co. In 1933 the name Robar and Co. was being used, but in July 1935 they had gone back to L. Robar and Co. In 1948 they were using the name Societe Robar et Cie. The firm is sometimes referred to as the „Etablissements Robar." It was in the hands of a receiver in 1959.
Although the Jannsen firm owned the name Jieffeco, they apparently did not have exclusive control over sales made in that. period because the same pistol was marketed under the name Melior. The pistols are identical in all respects (including patent numbers) except for the change of name on the slide and on the grips. They are known to have been numbered in the same series.
New models of the 6.35 and 7.65 mm. Melior pistol were introduced in January 1921 and, presumably, the name Jieffeco was dropped at that time. The Jannsen firm took over the sales of the Melior, to a considerable extent at least, and continued selling them until they went out of business. In 1953 correspondence they stated that they had a monopoly on sales „in a few countries-not including the U.S." The Melior has been sold quite continuously in this country, however, by various sales agencies.
Serial numbers for the 6.35 mm. „Old Mod. Melior" (including those used on the Jieffeco) ran from No. 1 to No. 38,978, and serial numbering of the 6.35 mm. „New" model began at No. 38,979. For the 7.65 mm. „Old Mod. Melior" (and Jieffeco ) the numbering ran from No. 1 to No. 27,350, and for the „New" Mod. Melior the numbering began at No. 27,351.
The Jieffeco (or Old Mod. Melior) was produced in only the two calibers, 6.35 and 7.65 mm., although it appears that a 9 mm. version was planned at one time. The design for the two calibers is the same and is a simple blowback, striker-fired type. The recoil spring is above a fixed barrel and both are in a housing that can be removed to the front by taking out the recoil spring nut. Only the breechblock recoils. It carries the extractor and a rod to compress the recoil spring. There is no ejector, as the fired shell pivots off the end of the striker. The trigger bar is exposed on the right side until covered by the grip. The magazine is of the conventional sheet metal type and has a push button release located near the bottom of the grip frame. There is a thumb-operated safety located very near the rear edge of the frame. All 6.35 mm. specimens seen have serrations on both the front end of the barrel and on the spring housing beneath, as well as on the rear end of the slide. The illustrations issued in 1911, however, do not show the serrations on the forward part of the pistol. Observed specimens of the 7.65 mm. model show serrations only on the rear end of the slide.
Catalog data for the 6.35 mm. pistol are: total length, 110 mm.; weight, 400 gm.; and magazine capacity, 6 ctges. Data for the 7.65 mm. pistol are: total length, 160 mm.; weight, 650 gm.; and magazine capacity, 8 ctges.
A 6.35 mm. specimen marked simply PHOENIX LOWELL, MASS. U.S.A. PATENT, bearing serial No. 108 has been examined. Other than the inscription above and the word PHOENIX on the grip plates, the gun has no markings. This specimen differs from the Jieffeco only in that it has a magazine release of the conventional snap type at the bottom of the grip frame.
Melior „New Model"-This designation of New Model is not an official designation, but is used here and elsewhere to distinguish it from the former model of the Jieffeco type. Factory literature designates it as Model 1920.
This model was first made in 6.35 and 7.65 mm. calibers only, but in later years .22 cal. and 9 mm. (.380) versions have been added. The .22, 7.65 mm., and 9 mm. pistols are all built on the same frame. The 6.35 mm. arm is built on a smaller but similar frame.
This is the fixed-barrel type, the barrel being fixed securely in position. Near the rear end of the slide there is a slot extending not only through the slide but also through the breechblock unit which carries the breechblock, extractor, firing pin, and its spring. A sliding block fills the slot and locks the slide and breechblock units together. This little block may be removed by raising a spring-loaded latch which extends toward the rear. In the case of the 6.35 model, the rear sight is mounted on this sliding block, but on the 7.65, 9 mm., and .22 cal. models the rear sight is mounted in front of the block. Removal of this block releases the slide, which can be slid forward over the barrel, and also releases the breechblock unit, which can be slid off the rear of the frame. The recoil spring, together with a sleeve which covers its rear portion, remains in the slide and can only be removed by unscrewing a small, threaded, circular plate against which the front end of the spring rests. The sleeve surrounding the rear end of the spring serves not only as a stop for the spring but it covers about half of the shell ejection port (to keep dirt out), as in the Walther Mod. 7, when the action is closed.
The earlier issues of the 6.35 mm. pistol have a grip safety in addition to the conventional thumb-operated safety and magazine safety, but later this grip safety was omitted. Specimen No. 102,971 and those having lower numbers have the grip safety, while specimen No. 112,470 and those having higher numbers do not. Evidently the change took place somewhere between these numbers, but at what date is not known.
The Meliors of this newer type, in all calibers, are made under the design covered by patents Nos. 259,178 and 265,491. Catalog data for the 6.35 mm. pistol are: total length, 120 mm.; weight, 360 gm.; and magazine capacity, 6 ctges. Data for the 7.65 mm. gun are: total length, 150 mm.; weight, 635 gm.; and magazine capacity, 7 ctges.
Specimen No. 41,765 is interesting because it shows that Melior pistols of the newer type, as well as those of the Jieffeco type, were supplied to dealers to be sold under a different name. This pistol bears the following inscription: MRE. LIEGEOISIE D'ARMES Ä FEU BREVETS 259178-265491-LIEGE-BELGIUM.
The pistol has a grip safety, as would be expected from its low serial number.
A 6.35 mm. Melior pistol, bearing the serial number 12,281, has recently come to the attention of the author, and this pistol presents a problem. It very definitely is not an original Melior, in spite of its low serial number. On the other hand, it is unlike the New Model of 1920, though some of its features are similar. It has the same sliding block mounted in the slide, the removal of which permits disassembly, but this block is mounted considerably farther forward, and the sight is on the front edge. This model has the grip safety; it has a disconnector bar on the right side; and the ejection of fired shells is upward rather than through a port on the right side. The patent numbers are the same as for the 1920 model, but many features are quite different. The low serial number suggests that this is a newer model and that with its appearance a new series of numbering started. This, however, is only a conjecture.
This pistol is shown in Part V.
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