Around 1910 the Spanish firearms industry began the manufacture of a style of automatic pistol patterned after the blowback, internal-hammer design used by Fabrique Nationale in their Modele 1903 (Browning) and by the Colt Co. in the manufacture of their Hammerless Pocket Model of 1903. The Spanish imitations differed in minor points from model to model, but all of them preserved the characteristics which easily marked them as Browning imitations. The common design was a 5- or 7-round type, in 7.65 mm. Browning pistol cartridge caliber. These arms are commonly referred to as the „Eibar Type."
In 1914 the firm of Gabilondo y Urresti, revolver manufacturers, of Elgoibar, introduced an Eibar Type pistol in 7.65 mm. caliber having a nine-round capacity, a feature considered new at the time. The trade name for this pistol was the „Ruby," for which name Gabilondo y Urresti received a Spanish „patent" in 1914, i.e., a copyright giving them exclusive use of the name for use on firearms (both pistols and revolvers). At the present time it is used only on revolvers; but has been used on automatic pistols of their make other than the ones now under discussion. This new pistol was evidently first introduced for commercial sale in the U.S. and in South America.
Soon after the outbreak of World War I the pistol was offered for use in the French Army, and after several tests and trials it was adopted as a subsidiary standard military pistol. The initial French order was placed in May 1915 and called for sustained delivery at the rate of 10,000 pistols a month. In August of 1915 the French increased their demand to a rate of 30,000 a month, but even this rate proved to be too small and further demands were made.
As Gabilondo y Urresti could not meet these constantly increasing demands, special arrangements were made with four other firms in Eibar. These firms were given contracts to produce not less than 5,000 pistols a month. Each firm was to manufacture the pistol under the trade name „Ruby" and to supply the pistols, together with spare magazines, to Gabilondo y Urresti for delivery to the French. It was provided that if these firms failed to make their quota of 5,000 per month they must pay a penalty for the difference; and, on the other hand, the parent firm was required to purchase all pistols produced in excess of the monthly quota. These first four firms were: Bruno Salaverria y Cia., Eibar; Eceolaza y Vicinai y Cia., Eibar; Hijos de Angel Echeverria y Cia., Eibar; Armera Elgoibaressa y Cia., Elgoibar.
A fifth firm, S. A. Alkartasuna, was organized in Guernica by employees of the Esperanza y Unceta company of that city, for the express purpose of manufacturing the pistol, to which, however, was given the name Alkar or Alkartasuna. (See Alkartasuna) This operation was authorized by Gabilondo y Urresti, so they state.
The combined production of these firms was still not sufficient to supply the demands of the French and still other firms took up the production of this pistol (or a similar one) under their own trade names. These firms were: Esperanza y Unceta, Guernica; S. A. Royal Vincitor, Eibar; Retolaza Hermanos y Cia., Eibar; Beistegui Hermanos, Eibar; Francisco Arizmendi y Goenaga, Eibar.
Although these firms produced independently, there was (it is claimed) an agreement with Gabilondo y Urresti which enabled them to control the prices of pistols delivered to the French. As the war progressed more firms took up the manufacture of this type of pistol but not under the Ruby name. Some bear no names, others are marked Model 1916 (or other year). The following additional firms are reported to have participated:
Azanza y Arrizabalaga, Eibar Marked „Model 1916," etc.
Arizmendi, Zulaica y Cia., Eibar Marked „Cebra" Izidro Gaztanaga, Eibar Marked „Destroyer"
Erquiaga y Cia., Eibar Marked „Fiel"
M. Zulaica y Cia., Eibar Marked „Model 1914," etc.
The total number manufactured and supplied directly by Gabilondo to the French Army is reported to have been somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000. No such large serial numbers have been seen by the author, however. How many were made by other manufacturers for the French will very likely never be known. During World War I a few were reportedly sold to the Italian Government.
At the close of World War I, production of this „military" type of Ruby pistol by Gabilondo was discontinued and a new type, patterned after the Mod. 1910 Browning by F.N., was introduced under the trade names Ruby, Bufalo, and Danton. But the production of the Eibar Type of pistol by other firms was by no means discontinued and was even taken up by firms not participating in the war production. Other Spanish 7.65 mm. pistols of the Eibar Type, a number of which very closely resembled the Ruby in appearance, came on the market after the end of World War I and production seems to have continued for a number of years. Mail order houses in the U.S. contributed materially to their distribution. Some manufacturers of these Eibar Type pistols are the following: Hijos de C. Arrizabalaga, Eibar; Martin A. Bascaran, Eibar; Echave y Arizmendi, Eibar; Bonifacio Echeverria, Eibar; Iraola Salaverria y Cia., Eibar.
Still other guns of this type, whose makers are not known, have been encountered-such as one marked „L.C." on the frame (sold by Fab. d'Armes de Guerre); one marked „B.G." on the frame (possibly Gregorio Bolumburu ); one having no markings except a serial number and a figure 9 in a circle on each grip; one marked „Vilar" and „Model 1924;" one marked „Demon" with a large star weakly impressed on rear of frame; and one marked „32 C. 1924 Automatic Pistol." Undoubtedly there were many more.
Most of the manufacturers whose names have appeared above made pistols other than the Eibar Type, some of which are quite well known.
Plus Ultra-The 7.65 mm. Plus Ultra, made by Gabilondo y Cia., appears to be of the general Eibar Type pistol, but it has a very long grip frame capable of taking a 20-round magazine. The factory reports that its manufacture was discontinued in 1932, which would be at the time that the Llama series was about to begin.
Ruby (Post-W. W. I. type) and Bufalo-As already stated, Gabilondo dropped the Eibar Type of pistol at the close of World War I. In its place they introduced an imitation of the F.N. Browning Mod. 1910, with screw-in muzzle bushing. This pistol was given the name Ruby. Soon thereafter (1919) a contract was made with Armeria Beristain y Cia., a sales organization in Barcelona, whereby the 7.65 and 9 mm. Browning Short pistols of this pattern were to be furnished exclusively to Beristain and sold by them under the name Bufalo. This meant that the name Ruby was dropped from the line of 1910 Browning imitations, but the name soon reappeared. The Beristain contract called for 100 pistols a day, to be sold in America and Spain.
In 1920 a 6.35 mm. vestpocket pistol, copied from the 1906 Browning, appeared under the name Ruby and was sold under this name from 1920 to 1925. It was also sold by Beristain under the name Bufalo.
The alliance between Gabilondo and Beristain apparently was based on the fact that the latter held patents on a grip safety device and certain other features that Gabilondo desired to use. These patents date from 1916 and 1917. This is borne out by the fact that the original Ruby imitation of the 1910 Browning did not have a grip safety, but the Bufalo did throughout its period of production. Then, when the Bufalo name was dropped (due to cancellation of the contract with Beristain) and the Ruby reintroduced, the grip safety was eliminated. Cancellation of the contract was apparently due to the falling off of sales, particularly in the U.S., due to restrictive legislation on the sale of firearms that had been passed. The grip safety was reintroduced in about 1929 (on the Danton for example), by which time the patents on this device may have expired. The first Dantons (1925) did not have this safety.
In the case of the 6.35 mm. vestpocket type, which had been sold under both names (Ruby and Bufalo), the cancellation on the contract meant only the dropping of the name Bufalo, the production being continued under the name Ruby. An interesting point is that Ruby pistols, in all calibers, were now marked
MANUFACTURED IN SPAIN BY „RUBY" ARMS CO. PATENT 70724 CAL. 7.65 (32) for those of the 7.65 mm. caliber and similarly for the other calibers. The use of this fictitious firm name undoubtedly had some relation to the cancellation of the Beristain contract, perhaps only to draw attention back to the name Ruby and away from Beristain (Fig. 174).
Resumption of the production of the 7.65 mm. and 9 mm. Short (1910 Browning imitation) Ruby pistols meant that the pistols that had been produced under that name previous to the Beristain contractual arrangement were now again being produced under the Ruby name. This production of the original model continued from approximately 1923 to 1926.
In 1925 several changes, including a better safety system (but not including a grip safety), were incorporated and the pistol was rechristened the Danton. It has been stated that both the Ruby and Danton were manufactured simultaneously from 1926 to 1929. Communications from Gabilondo y Cia. state that the 6.35 mm. vestpocket model was discontinued in 1925. Literature (undated but probably ca. 1930) describing the „Ruby Arms Co." pistols of 6.35, 7.65, and 9 mm. caliber shows that all three were provided with the grip safety, thus providing three safety devices. The grip safety was added about 1929 and was used until the discontinuance of manufacture.
Literature of the Ruby Arms Co. gives the data for the Ruby pistols as shown in Table 31.
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