I just recently spent some time at RIA doing video for their upcoming Regional auction, and happened to notice a batch of guns they were in the process of sorting and writing descriptions of for the April Premier auction: a whole slew of Chinese Mystery Pistols.
I really need to come up with a better name for these things, but I’m not sure what that would be at his point. They are pistols manufactured by a large number of small Chinese shops in the 1920s and 30s, and generally fall into three categories. Mechanical copies of the Mauser 1914, Mauser C96 “Broomhandle”, and Browning 1900 pistols – but their external form varies wildly. They generally have nonsensical markings; sometimes gibberish text and sometimes copies of many different European proofs marks and trademarks. I took photos of a small sampling of the batch at RIA (click on any photo to enlarge it a lot):
I will definitely be spending some time with these when I next go to RIA, and I am particularly looking forward to being able to use the high-res photos they take for the auction catalog. I would love to be able to put together a reference book or ebook on this topic. Maybe it makes me strange, but I find these designs very interesting. 🙂