Cyphers, Acceptance and Proofs
The subject of acceptance and proofing is the most important element of German military rifle research, almost everything relevant about a rifle under discussion comes down to these markings found on the rifle and various components. Although this is an indisputable fact, it is also indisputable that very few collectors fully appreciate the importance of acceptance in an evaluation. Even the distinction between the three terms is lost upon most collectors, who casually use “proof” for any marking found on a rifle.
In view of this observation, the following will outline the differences and relative importance of the three general forms of markings that determine a rifles originality and ultimately value. This blog post will focus on the Imperial era, however a lengthy article is available that covers 1870-1945, which will feature in the Winter 2017 MRJ (Issue 214).
On March 13, 2015 the Gewehr98.com, (http://www.gewehr98.com/) came back on-line after a two year hiatus; the site has been thoroughly revised and updated. The site includes more detail that the earlier site, and was designed to answer many basic questions regarding buying and collecting the Gewehr98.
The site is the sister website of the MRJ, both will support one another with blog posts, often based upon future or past articles published in the MRJ. Those of you that have subscribed to the MRJ blog posts are encouraged to subscribe to the Gewehr98 site. Once the Gewehr98 site has developed some following I will begin a series of blog posts regarding the numerous variations a collector might encounter.
Often the question comes up on the internet forums about when the dismounting washer-ferrule, typically referred to as a takedown disc (German collectors call it a kolbenauge), and finger grips show up on wartime German rifles. The question is not easy to answer though because each feature shows up at different times on each maker, it was not implemented in an organized manner, and even when these features show up it can often be intermittent, or in batches before it becomes normal.
The take down washer-ferrule was the first feature order by the War Ministry, on November 8, 1915 it was ordered that a take down washer be added to each stock to aid in the disassembly and cleaning of the bolt. Due to the complicated process this involved, this feature took the longest to introduce. It varies between manufacturers, but typically the larger manufacturers took the longest to introduce this feature, none seem to have made it a regular feature before late 1916, and the Suhl Consortium (JPS, CGH, VCS regularly have this feature by the m-block of 1916) were the earliest to introduce this feature so far as research has shown.
The finger grips along the sides of the stock, to make it easier to grasp the stock, was ordered by the War Ministry on January 1916, it was the earliest to show up, probably because it was an easy feature to add to a stock. Even still, the larger firms were slow to implement them regularly, DWM for example managed to get them done starting 1916, but it was intermittent and very late, and not until well into 1917 that both became regular features. The Suhl Consortium again was early to include both features, it is rare to find a late 1916 or 1917 Suhl maker without both features.
Gewehr98 production is perhaps one of the most interesting of the 1898-1919 period. The reasons are many, but perhaps most of all due to its relationship with the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine). DWM was the primary supplier of Gewehr98’s to the KM prior to the war; although a handful of Erfurt (1899) and Mauser Oberndorf (1910-1911) rifles are known to have been made.
The vast majority of rifles delivered to the Kaiserliche Marine prior to 1908 were manufactured by DWM, they are known in number every year from 1899-1908, except for the year 1900, and they are amongst the scarcest and most desirable rifles of the period. Due to the fact that the state arsenals were making most of the Gewehr98’s for the Prussian Army, the patent holders (DWM and Mauser were the only commercial makers making the Modell98 due to their ownership of the patent) were left to fend for themselves. DWM having a relationship with the Kaiserliche Marine due to the P.04 (Pistole 1904 Navy Luger) and the MG08 (Maxim), they found a willing buyer working for the German Navy. Mauser Oberndorf found a client with the Württemberg Army, neither client was a large contract and relatively few rifles were made by either firm until the Modell98 carbine was taken up by the state arsenals. Fortunately, the firms were well positioned to make a lot of money on the switch, their parent company, Ludwig Loewe AG made the machines for the arsenals, and the process took sometime to undertake. DWM and Mauser Oberndorf production of the Gewehr98, for the Prussians start to develop in number starting in 1905, though it isn’t until 1906-1907 that production is significant.
The Suhl Consortium consisted of three firms located in Suhl, C.G. Haenel (CGH), J.P. Sauer (JPS), and V.C. Schilling (VCS), these firms had a long history of cooperating on contracts for military production.
Shortly after the war began, Erfurt contracted with the Suhl Consortium, through C.G. Haenel, to manufacture the Gewehr98, initially this contract amounted to 150,000 rifles to be manufactured between the three firms, the first rifles to be delivered in February 1915 and the contract concluded by October 1916. Subsequent arrangements were agreed upon and it is estimated that between the three firms a total of 450,000 – 500,000 rifles were eventually delivered during the war.
This production is often considered the scarcest of the wartime makers, all the Suhl makers are difficult to find in collectable, matching-original condition today. It is also difficult to know which maker is scarcer amongst the three firms; this is primarily because the three firms shared serial ranges. As each firm was assigned blocks and the blocks intermingle, it is impossible to know which firm made the most rifles under this arrangement.
Recently there was a discussion on the German contract rifles delivered to Turkey during 1917 and 1918; with the help of Jon Speed we have much more information about the circumstances of this contract and delivery.
When the war expanded with the Turkey’s entry into the war on Germany’s side, Turkey was isolated, along with Bulgaria, from her allies by Serbia and Rumania, which was neutral until August 1916. This caused enormous logistical problems for the Central Powers, both Bulgaria and Turkey were heavily dependant upon supplies from Germany, especially critical was ammunition. While Rumania had strong economic ties to Germany and some things in common with A-H, she increasingly became hostile to the Central Powers due to British and French intrigue. While trade with Germany never ended prior to August 1916, the transit of supplies from Germany and Austria to Bulgaria and Turkey had been repeatedly disrupted and hampered.
Welcome to our new website, we have been down for awhile but it was necessary for updating the website. We have set up this site with a new feature, I will try and do a short blog every week or so to keep new information on our website, especially while Gewehr98.com is down during its update.
The Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) was initially formed from the Prussian Navy in the 1870’s, it was an Imperial force, unlike the Imperial era German Army, which was made up of the Armies of Prussia, Saxony, Württemberg and Bavaria, united under the Kaiser only in emergencies. Originally the Imperial German Navy was a rather small force, funded by the Imperial German parliament (Reichstag) rather than the individual state legislatures, and really didn’t become an ocean going force before the turn of the 20th Century, when Germany began upon an expansion program “for its place in the sun”, party in response to its trade rivalry with Britain and its quest for a colonial empire. The timing was perfect in relation to the Gewehr98, the First Naval Bill was put forward on December 6, 1897 and passed in 1898, it was followed by subsequent Naval Laws that great expanded the German Navy.