Reflections over engraving styles at gunmakers from Suhl, Germany.
Reflections over engraving styles at gunmakers from Suhl, Germany
©copyright P.O Haggårds
Before second world war there where over hundred small and big gunmakers in Suhl! All carried out all types engravings according to the customers' wishes. In spite of that you can discern the different engraving styles at the biggest and most well known brands. Respective style of engravings was transferred always from the masters to apprentice and furthermore to next when they become masters, from generation to generation. On that way developed during long time a unique style at most makers.
In order to create a small overview I travelled once more to the weapon town of Suhl in order to gather materials and facts from today in Suhl working Master of Engraver, Hendrik Frühauf
I will in my reflection try here to describe the typical style of engravings from the following best gunmakers before the end of World War II.
J. P. Sauer & Sohn
Simson & Co
Greifelt & Co
J. P. Sauer & Sohn;
Normal performed a very flat English arabesque engraving (picture). Renaissance leaves engravings, (picture) occurs on the better, more expensive guns that had much nicer engravings, also performed with game scenes (picture). After customer wish was carried out magnificent worked out game engravings mostly on masterpiece models that were rarer (picture).
For Sauer worked famous masters of engraver like Schilling, Berkers and others. The engravings from Sauer & Sohn were the most distinguished prepared engravings in Suhl at that time.
(Merkel Brothers) Compared with Sauer engravings were Markel’s deeper cut. For an example the o/u guns from Merkel with sidelocks, who is most well-known, had biggest space to engrave on and therefore is typical Merkel engravings more marked. The motifs are mostly lager than other makers. The game scenes had mostly out cut bottom (picture). As ornamentation used this very good maker, also flat Arabesque engravings. But it often occurred depth engraved style after English model, (picture). You can also see these combined with flower motif.
When we look on renaissance or oak leaves engravings are they more frequent on Merkel than on other Suhler gun makers.
The maker who most carried out relief engravings was Merkel, who their luxury guns were performed with that engravings combined with inlays in gold or other precious metal (picture).
Simson & Co;
At the department of engraving at Simson, the style was similar with Merkel. Standard engravings on Simsons simpler models were also performed with flat English arabesque style (picture). The more exclusive guns had that style combined with deep engraved game scenes (picture). Engravings on the luxury models that were not in majority from the pre wartime, was made of independent Suhler engravers. Therefore you find much more variation of styles from this maker.
Greifelt & Co;
At Greifelt were the standard engravings similar Simson. As ornamentation were also here English arabesque engravings. However there were very frequent with a combination of arabesque with oak leaves - and flower-motifs, which was not so common at the other makers in Suhl. The luxury guns were still flat engraved, similar Sauer, or along with deep cut as Merkel. Even so masterpieces like (picture), (picture)! You can also find Greifelts o/u guns with a combination of both last described styles (picture). Most often were the fences deeply cut along with more fine and flat engraved game scenes.
Text & Photo; P-O Haggårds, email@example.com
Photos and contribution; Hendrik Frühauf, Fredrik Franzén
Trip to Suhl
Trip to Suhl
The beginning of a journey researching J.P Sauer & Sohn
Written & Photographed by P-O Haggårds
©copyright P.O Haggårds
Several years ago I was inspired to the subject of firearms research by the appearance of several articles written by Fredrik Franzén about the well known gun making firm J.P Sauer & Sohn of Suhl Germany. Fredrik’s articles were published in my home country of Sweden and appeared in a Magazine titled “Jaktmarker & Fiskevatten” (Hunting grounds & Fishing water) dedicated to the subject of Hunting, Fishing and fine Firearms collecting in Sweden. Fredrik’s articles covered a few of the Sauer production models, sear arrangements found in the Sauer Box Lock guns as well as general information concerning Sauer.
As I began collecting Sauer guns, I read everything I could find regarding Sauer & Sohn Waffenfabrik and in the process contacted other owners, collectors and Sauer & Sohn researchers in order to learn more about Sauer & Sohn. What I learned from those that I contacted is that there are many differing views and opinions regarding many different facts for this maker. It is these many differing and conflicting views and opinions that inspired me to start my own research. What I have discovered about the firm of J.P. Sauer & Sohn is very exiting and adds to the growing body of knowledgeable about this German maker!
In the summer of 2004 my wife and I traveled South to Germany and the city of Suhl where I received permission from Dr. Norbert Moczarski to research in the Staatsarchive, situated in the old city Prison. My wife Ingrid “locked” me in the prison for two days while she went on many shopping and sightseeing trips! While in Suhl I was able to make arrangements to meet Master Engraver Hendrik Frühauf who lives in Schleusingen nearby Suhl and we had some nice hours talking about Sauer. Hendrik allowed me to examine his collection of catalogs and he gave me much important advice that has been very useful in my research.
A number of interesting documents where found in the Staatsarchive that clarified some of the history of Sauer & Sohn as the Second World War were coming to an end. At one point, as I researched in the archives, I thought I had found the lost original Proof Books from the Suhl Proof-house but the books I had found in the course of my research were the Suhl reproof books cover the years 1890 – 1960.
The finding of the re-proof books was a bit of a disappointment but I have not given up hope of finding the original proof records. I continue to believe that the original proof records still exist and will be found somewhere in Suhl!
It has been written, and presumed that Rolf Sauer’s personal collection of museum and exhibition guns were destroyed or looted by U.S or Soviet soldiers when these two forces occupied Suhl. (Authors note: U.S. forces arrived in Suhl on April 3 1945 and handed Suhl over to the Soviets on July 3 1945 according to previously agreed upon terms and timetables).
Under these 3 months made Rolf Sauer several fruitless attempts for permission to start up the fabrication again from US Commandant Capt. Windsor. Only after 2 weeks under Soviets command Rolf Sauer allowed to start making Hunting weapons again. 20 of July Russian Officers ordered 1000 gun. Even Josef Stalin ordered 10 of the finest 25A drillings that summer. The year of 1946 9500 Hunting Weapons were produced.
The disappearance Sauer’s collection of sporting arms is an interesting saga and the story is worth noting here, as there were many unique and significant pieces in the collection. Not just Sauer guns, but guns from other makers as well.
Rolf, along with his brother Hans, were concerned that the Sauer collection of guns would be damaged by American bombers and as U.S. forces closed in on Suhl, they decided to do what they could to protect the collection. Accordingly, they gathered up what they wished to protect from the bombers and placed them into three wooden crates. These crates were then transported to the Castle Fasanerie outside of Suhl were they were put into storage until such time as they could be retrieved. As events unfolded, U.S. forces reached the castle and the guns were seized and impounded by the U.S. Army and moved to Meiningen city hall until a decision could be made regarding their disposition.
Letters and documents have been found in the Staatsarchive (signed by Rolf Sauer himself) affirming the collection was placed into storage prior to the arrival of U.S. Forces. In these noted documents, a letter was found addressed to the District Administration Office in Meiningen dated May 29 1945 where Rolf attempts to convince the Chief of Administration, Mr. von Hacht that three wooden boxes containing the Sauer collection of firearms only contained firearms for training and exhibiting purposes! Rolf did not intend that the collection of guns to fall into the hands of the U.S. Army and he did not intend to deliver the guns/collection according to U.S. Army (and United Nations) mandates. Rolf wanted the collection back!
Rolf continues in his letter to Mr. von Hacht, because of the foreigner (slave workers, authors comment) caused factory fire of April 18, 1945 and their breaking in to the Sauer factory safe, all papers proving ownership of the collection had been destroyed. Rolf believed that he might have some inventory copies in his safe-deposit box at the Deutsche Bank in Suhl and continues in his letter by asking Mr. von Hacht for permission to open the Sauer Company’s safety deposit box at the bank!
On the 29 of June Rolf Sauer came back to the District Administration office with an internal Invoice with the value of Insurance to Mr. von Hacht so Rolf must have found the inventory lists. Attached I found an incomplete inventory list regarding the temporary storage of the collection. Where all these fine guns have disappeared to is unknown at this time. Perhaps U.S. Officers “liberated” them! It would be of much of interest to me if any readers know anything about the following guns in the included list or their whereabouts.
161 Spangenberg & Sauer Percussion-Carbine, Suhl 1864.
316 Forgeron O/U shotgun, ejector, 12-gauge.
401 Sauer Hammer-Shotgun, Damascus-Barrels, Silver-Fittings, no-gauge
404 Sauer Hammer-Shotgun, Damascus-Barrels, Silver-Fittings, Silver/Gold-Inlays,
Stock-Carvings, Former owner Count von Finkenstein, no-gauge.
10110 French O/U shotgun, 16-gauge.
25911 Belgian O/U shotgun, sidelock, ejector, 12-gauge.
35133 Forgeron shotgun, S/S, sidelock, Holland & Holland ejector, 16-gauge.
39334 Forgeron O/U shotgun, ejector, 16-gauge, made in Belgium.
207350 Sauer Sidelock-Drilling, mod 900, Eng. engr. and Gold inlays16 – 8x57JR.
223128 Sauer shotgun, S/S, mod 18 (Masterpiece) 20- gauge.
232580 Sauer Pigeon shotgun, S/S, mod. 29 C, Spezial-Stahl, 16-gauge
232626 Sauer Pigeon shotgun, S/S, mod. 29 C, Spezial-Stahl, 12-gauge.
248072 Sauer shotgun, S/S, mod 8 E, single-trigger, 12-gauge.
251386 Sauer Pigeon shotgun, S/S, mod. 29 C, Spezial-Stahl, 12-gauge.
253181 Sauer D.B. Rifle, mod 8, Oak leaves engraving, cal. 8x57JR.
256326 Sauer D.B. Rifle, mod 35 E, Spezial-Stahl, Stock-Magazine, cal. 405Win.
256327 Sauer D.B. Rifle, mod 35 E, Stock-Magazine, cal. 8x57JR.
267373 Sauer shotgun, S/S, mod. 15, Spezial-Stahl, 16-gauge.
No number Sauer Schützenbüchse, Finest engraving and stock carving, cal 8,15x46R.
No number Sauer O/U shotgun, in white, ejector, 12-gauge.
I would appreciate any information from the readership to help clear up this matter!
The story “Rolf Sauers personal Gun” can be read at German Gun Collectors Association homepage on the Internet as well in their quarterly Journal “Der Waffenschmeid”, Volume 1 number 2. This story can also be found in J.P Sauer & Sohn Pistols, Volume 2 by Authors Jim Cate & M. Krause.
The following is a partial account of the story:
“I got the opportunity to authenticate the history of the U.S. Army's first entry into Suhl during the first days of April 1945. To be more precise, I talked for six hours with the man who was in charge of the first battalion to march into Suhl. This was the 63rd U.S. Armored Infantry Battalion, which was a part of the 11th Armored Division! They arrived three or four days before any other members of the U.S. military arrived.
The home of Rolf Sauer and his family, the Sauer Villa as it is known in Suhl, became his Command Post. This man was one of the battalion headquarters' staff officers. Because of the long conversation with this veteran, and subsequent conversations as well, I was able to get a very detailed mental picture of the inside of the Sauer Villa. There were a series of glass and wooden cases which held hundreds of different examples of firearms, the majority of which were all "cutaway" examples, which I have determined were used by the Sauer engineers to see the different mechanical aspects, as well as machining techniques which were used to produce these weapons.
Why these weapons were not stored at the Sauer firm is a mystery. It is possibly these examples were part of the personal collection of Hans and Rolf Sauer, but most probably they were weapons that had been transferred there from the production facilities in case the allied air forces bombed the firm. Hans Sauer, Rolf's brother, lived only a short distance away from the Villa. This U.S. Army Captain did reside in the Sauer Villa for a couple of days, and slept in Rolf Sauer's bedroom, which was located upstairs in the home. It was in this bedroom of Rolf Sauer's where his two personal weapons were found. In his nightstand was found a beautiful cased and engraved Model 20, 6.35mm Sauer pistol. The Sauer Drilling, which was Rolf Sauer's personal weapon, also was found in the same room”. This drilling has 24-inch barrels and is in 12-gauge with the rifle caliber being 7x57JR. The serial number of this gun is 344495 and is Eagle N nitro proofed.
The main Sauer Villa, which was the home of Franz Sauer (Hans and Rolfs father) was used as the Sauer & Sohn exhibition site and was situated at Hauptbahnhof Strasse. Although nobody lived at this Sauer Villa at that time, Rolf Sauer lived in a Villa at Schleusinger Strasse not far away. Maybe the captain found Rolfs “personal” weapons in the bedroom there? It could be hard to remember 50 years back!
The cutaway guns referenced by the U.S. Army Captain may have been found at the Sauer Villa! It would seem that the Museum guns noted earlier in this article, were stored away from Allied bombing in the Fasanerie Hunting Castle outside Suhl and the other guns and gun-parts where still left in the Villa located on Hauptbahnhof Strasse!
In Mr Cates article we can see that the Drilling has serial-number 344495 and the following documents prove that this specific gun was intend for export to Hungary via Vienna! The Company Gustav Genschow & Co, Vienna. (GECO) ordered Drilling Nr. 344495 and twenty one other guns in March 1944. (See the “Bestellung” order confirmation from Sauer included with this article) A document sent by Sauer one year after the drillings order proves/shows that the Drilling was among others still to be supplied to GG & Co. in a letter reminding GG & Co to accomplish their order!
Why is it that those twenty one guns had not been delivered? The reasons for this are that Soviets Troops attacked Hungary in April 1944 and liberated Budapest on February 11 1945. The Soviets continued their attack and pushed the German Troops out of Hungary and into Austria. Vienna was liberated on April 14 1945 and the guns could not be delivered to Austria! Of course it was a chaotic time and understandable why the client didn’t finish the order but why this particular gun was found in one of Sauer’s Villa, is still a question!
Great thanks to Jeff Stephens who helped and inspired me to write.
Sources; Suhl Staatsarchive. Sauer & Sohn, Suhl, band 1, Manfred Kersten. J.P Sauer & Sohn, Peter Arfmann & Rolf Kallmeyer.
Trip to Suhl part 2
©copyright P.O Haggårds
I get questionnaires daily via telephone and e-mail from many nice and curious owners or proposed owner of Sauer guns that wonders when their guns were produced and its possible value. Often, it is heritage from relatives and unfortunately not so many new purchases. Sadly enough today's young new hunters do not realize that the guns have not developed on the last 100 years. Most seems rather choose new produced guns before second-hand. To find a weapon for a reasonable cost with such balance and quality that one second-hand Sauer or other well-known firearms manufacturers from the time before 1945, is according to my view near impossible.
I want here to show how the readers simple can determine the age on theirs beloved Sauer without needing to use the serial numbers.
Via stamps of proof;
Take the gun apart and look under the barrels where you may find stamps like Crown U, V or N. 1891 introduced a new gun law in Germany regarding federal proof of all firearms, but it not joined [in full force] before 1893. Earlier it was voluntary.All guns that were layered between January 1 and March 31, 1893 was stamped with Crown V as in Vorath (betray, stocks). From April 1 1893 and ahead used German Proof Houses,”Beschussamt” the Crown U as proof stamp. 1912 came also the stamp Crown N as in Nitro Powder!
After September 1923 the proof house also stamped proof dates, month and years with a three or four-digit number when they became proofed. Normally you can find the numbers under the left barrel on double barrelled guns although on drillings it can be found on the rifle barrel! For example 3/26 or 326 that means march 1926.
If you do not find any of these stamps it should then have been produced before 1891-93. Thus, weapons with Crown V are produced during years 1893, Crown U from 1893 and from 1912 Crown N.
This is the first way you can determine the age and of course it can be used on other German weapons.
Via patent numbers;
During my researches I came in contact with one other Sauer-collector with the name of Martin Krause from Hannover, Germany. His profession is as Patent Manager and he informed me about how to find all old patents regarding guns on one internetpage with the name www.espacenet.com . Here, the entire world's patents are in front of you. It is only for interested readers to begin to research on their own.
On many of the Sauer’s guns the patent number are engraved in, for an example 78411, the well-known sidelock Drilling with separate rifle cocking level that came 1895.
Some of the most common patents and years;
14813 patents for double working hammer on drillings for rifle and shot, years 1881.
60492, patents for extractor for cartridges without rim, years 1891.
70343, patents on barrel assembly for double barrelled guns, years 1892. US Patent 505006 years 1893.
78411, patents on current catch for drilling with separate cocking, years 1894.
231263, patents for single triggers on double barrelled guns, years 1909.
Thus, guns with these patent numbers would be produced earliest a year after the patents approval.
Via standard protections;
The continued researches showed that the standard protections not always was easy to find with information as years unlike the patents depending on that they only applied in 6 years. The standard protection (DRGM, Deutsche Reich Gebrauchmuster) is referred to also with engraved numbers on some of Sauer models.
I mention here some of the most common;
. 17913 standard protection of cocking indicator, years 1895 - 1901.
. 47092 standard protection of cocking indicator, years 1896 - 1902.
. 130243 standard protection of cocking indicator, years 1900 - 1906.
. 321876 standard protection of ejector mechanism with coil springs, years 1907 – 1913.
These standard protections for cocking indicators were often engraved around the indicators.
Has your gun some of these numbers then you know that it is produced between the years these standard protections applied.
Via models numbers or name;
My collection of old Sauer catalogs, folders and ads shows that the models did not have a logical consequence. The 1903 years catalogues referred to models is named a, b, c and so on. In 1906 years' catalogue, we can see that the models have numbers instead as 1, 2, 3… In order to confuse still more we can see that Sauer had entirely other models terms in the Italian and American catalogs. The model that keep the same name since 1896 until 1940-talet is the drop barrel single rifle (kipplauf) ”Tell” and the most common shotgun model 8 who is still produced, today by Merkel!
First around 1930 Sauer began to refer to the models after those years they official were introduced on the market.
. 1930 appears mod.30, Sauer’s first drilling with the Blitz-system.
. 1931 appears mod.31, cape gun that could be delivered also as o/u double rifle.
. 1933 appears mod.33, Sauers o/u shotgun that apart from using for hunting was used by the German Luftwaffe to shooting clay birds by German flight crew to learn the art of pass shooting, same as Swedish Air force did later with Husqvarna shotguns.Mod.34 & 35 was already recorded of s/s double rifles from the beginning of 1900!
. 1936 appears mod.36, one new kipplauf (drop barrel single rifle), with half octagonal barrel with cross bolt, also with double cross bolt for more powerful cartridges.
. 1937 appears mod.37, same as mod. 36 but in simpler version without cross bolt and round barrel with soldered rib. Both the models could be provided with interchangeable barrels in different calibre. Already 1893 became Sauer sole agent for Krupp barrel steel (Krupp-Lauf-stahl) after that they had collaborated in the development of this special steels that later come in different qualities as Krupp-Inerso-Laufstahl, Special-Gewehr-Laufstahl, and Nirosta-Stahl. Other firearms manufacturers that wish to provide their guns with this excellent barrel material might buy it through Sauer & Sohn. The 3 rings that denote Krupp’s barrel steel has nothing to do with the Olympics ring that many seems to believe. It is entirely Krupp’s trademark and will imagine iron wheels for train and wagons at railways that they were big producer of during industrial revolution in Europe under the 1900 century. On the above various ways, you can as readers simple approximate age on your own gun. For you that wants to have more information refers to my homepage www.sauerfineguns.com
Already 1893 became Sauer sole agent for Krupp barrel steel (Krupp-Lauf-stahl) after that they had collaborated in the development of this special steels that later come in different qualities as Krupp-Inerso-Laufstahl, Special-Gewehr-Laufstahl, and Nirosta-Stahl. Other firearms manufacturers that wish to provide their guns with this excellent barrel material might buy it through Sauer & Sohn. The 3 rings that denote Krupp’s barrel steel has nothing to do with the Olympics ring that many seems to believe. It is entirely Krupp’s trademark and will imagine iron wheels for train and wagons at railways that they were big producer of during industrial revolution in Europe under the 1900 century.
On the above various ways, you can as readers simple approximate age on your own gun. For you that wants to have more information refers to my homepage www.sauerfineguns.com