I have worked several years as artillery-officer is Finnish Navy, collected guns for 25 years and lived and seen them much much longer time. I have sold them, bought them, repaired them and have a luck to have as my friend one of most outstanding finnish gunsmiths. An other good collegue was most best antigue-arms dealer in Finland, till he passed away. which was a greatest loss to finnish guncollecting ever. He was trustworthy and great teatcher. So I would like to share some of my observations during the years, even if I am quite sure that most of this is too painfull to read and accept, so better to forget it.
When collecting military arms, one must note few things:
- military pistols are carried in holster - it allways note allways leaves it´s marks to a gun - no matter if the gun is Parabellum P-08 or FN GP-35. Theese marks of use are allways alike cause in many cases the holsters are alike.
- German army was desperately suffering lack of pistols during WW II. So all pistols what they get their hands were used by army, SS or so. Theese guns have signs of use, cause even if they were protected by holster they recieved constant hits and rubbing by holster cause the carrier or individual soldier was moving. Guns were pulled out of holster - and all this leaves marks to a gun.
- I had in my collection a FN GP-35 owned by finnish general Gustafsson, who never was in fortline. This gun had papers so I knew who had owend it. This guy sit in staff in Helsinki during The Continuation War and never fired the gun. It just lay in it´s holster and was occasionally cleaned. Ans even it had marks from holster.
So what it means?
When ever you start to collect something. Allways visit and see as many collections of your own field as possible. Talk with everyone who has better knowledge. Look - look - look - look and SEE the guns. Learn by heart what kind of signs of use this perticular gun has, the holsterwear. Learn what kind of surface it should have, what kind of it had when it left from the factory. This kind of things can be learned only by seeing guns so many as possible. And like one other collector friend of mine said - for every gun you should by a book. He has most outstanding collection of german guns - starting from 75 mm PAK 40.
Allways, when something seems too good to be true - it is. Forgeries are nowerdays moore common than great pandas. If there are hit marks in gun and there is bluening at the bottom of theese marks - gun is reblued. This is a FACT. Stamps are piece of cake - WaA-stamps or what so ever can be made, are made and will be made. I have seen them made in Finland so why they would not make them in USA or elsewhere - every single Parabellum P-08 is priced to skyhigh-level. Well there were quite a many of them made, but for pete´s sake you were not the first one to want one, they are not collected only in Finland, USA or in your hometown - where an earth do you think all theese minty "Lugers" come from? And they have been collected for 80 years !
This is just something to all to think of during warm summerdays.
And by the way - anybody intrested in minty Krieghoff "Luger" with SS-stamps or one made by Vickers. I have a few of them.