Model 1903 Rifle with Stock Carved and Metal Engraved for King of Turkey (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)

More information on the Model 1903 Turkish contract from Jon Speed:

To add to the Turkish Model 1903 story:

1. Chart that shows the Month, Number, Total numbers of test Round, Average Rounds per rifle. 5728 wood cases with 25 rifle /case.  Total delivered in the period indicated 143,200 Rifles. Contract went to slightly over 200,000 units. Total Rounds need 1,001,693

2. Photo from Glass plate shows a Model 1903 rifle with Stock Carved and Metal Engraved for King of Turkey (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire).

3. Close up to show carving and engraving.

4. Right view Butt Stock with large Turkish Crest inlaid

Similar Model 1903 rifles in other calibers were offered on Commercial market.





7 6


Prussian Arsenal Spandau

MVC-217FThe Prussian State Arsenal at Spandau was at the center of small arms development and production throughout the Imperial era. Located to the west of Berlin, Spandau was the center of German ordnance and everything relating to small arms originated from the various offices and facilities located there.

The beginnings of the State Arsenal date from 1722, when the Arsenal was located in Potsdam (17 miles southwest of central Berlin). In 1733 a branch was opened at Spandau and by 1855 the Potsdam Arsenal was closed and relocated toSpandau. Here it would remain, in one form or another until 1945.

While Spandau was involved in almost every rifle variation the Germans manufactured through 1918, for our purposes here, I will concentrate on the rifles that one is likely to encounter.  They made the Gewehr88 from 1889 through 1897, every year has been observed, though 1890 and 1891 seem to be the most commonly encountered. Serial studies vary in estimating totals made, as most of these studies are based upon a relative small sample and many of the rifles are of dubious value (condition, postwar service, alterations), one must use caution in placing too much value in them from a “collectors” perspective. It seems some of the later years Spandau made many more than surviving examples suggest, – going from serial ranges. Perhaps the best view to take, from a collector’s perspective, is to collect the very best examples possible (original, matching and good condition) and focus on the later years; 1894-97 seem to have survived in fewer numbers. One must also consider that these rifles were disposed of in large numbers before (exported) and during the war (aid to Turkey), and after the war were destroyed in great number. Huge numbers in fact, the early disarmament measures taken by the Germans typically focused upon lesser quality rifles and many of these rifles were targeted even before Versailles was signed, – the Entente inspectors were just that, they verified destruction of weapons, but the Germans actually did the work, and this work began long before the first IAMCC inspector arrived in Germany.

With the Gewehr98 Spandau played a dominate role. They are the only rifle maker that is known (confirmed) to have made the Gewehr98 every year 1899 through 1917. Like all the makers of the Gewehr98, Spandau made very few rifles in 1899, probably little more than 5,000 rifles. Danzig and Mauser would make nearly three times that many in 1899. Prior to the war, Spandau would be a lead manufacturer of the Gewehr98, though with early production it is difficult to know just how many rifles each maker made. Spandau seemingly is one of the few early makers that rolled over serialing each year, which aids in estimating production totals.  Fifteen years of research suggests that they were the primary maker, along with Danzig through 1906-1907. At this stage many of the firms were redirected elsewhere, possibly because enough Gewehr98’s were made to fill initial requirements (arming the regular Army Corps), but also due to new developments. In Spandau’s case, we have the introduction of the Maxim machinegun, known as the MG08, which Spandau and DWM had worked on together developing a lighter weight version for the German Army. While they are rare today, and little production information is available, it seems clear from what little is known of the pre-war production, that Spandau took the lead in numbers made prior to the war.

The most remarkable thing about this introduction of the MG08 into their production line up was the fact it doesn’t seem to have dramatically affected rifle production. While Gewehr98 production is known to have fallen sharply in 1908 and 1909, this is probably more due to the introduction of the Karabiner98 (Kar.98a) during those years. Adding the two rifles known production roughly brings total rifle production back inline with early production totals (though slightly depressed).Spandau would make the Kar.98a from 1908 through 1910, these rifles are very desirable and few have survived.

Up until the beginning of the war (1914), Spandau is clearly the main manufacturer of the Gewehr98, from 1909 through 1913 they are the primary maker a collector is likely to come across, some years, 1910-1911, only Spandau and Mauser are known to have made any Gewehr98’s at all! With the start of the war this would all change. All the makers would ramp up production quickly; most of all Spandau and Danzig, both top producers 1915-1916, but the course of the war would soon remove Spandau from rifle production.

During 1917 Spandau would redirect its efforts almost exclusively to machinegun production. They did make a modest number of rifles in 1917, about 120,000, but the vast majority of 1917 dated rifles collectors will encounter will be made by some other maker.  Most would end up at Danzig and Dresden, made up as sterngewehrs, but some would end up at Mauser and Hannover, which is an ordnance shop that assembled the parts into rifles. All of these rifle variations are very distinctive, but too little space to go into them here. While 1918 dated Spandau receivers were made, made by subcontractors, Belgium’s Pieper and the Berlin firm Siemans & Halske, they were not assembled by Spandau. Once again, some show up at Danzig, Dresden and Hannover, but most were never assembled during the war and were later build by ordnance depots in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

For the collector, Spandau offers a great deal of interesting rifle options. Early production in higher condition are elusive and very expensive if factory original. The most desirable rifles known are Spandau made rifles, primarily because they were largely supplied to Colonial (KS) and Garde troops. These rifles are identifiable by unit marking on the stock, and once again they are distinctive, both in how the unit markings are applied and certain features. Although after 1903 the best unit marked rifles seem to drop off, there are still great opportunities, 1904-1913 production is rather stable, the range of known production each year stays about 30,000-40,000, but any “original” rifle that is largely matching would command a good price if attractive. The war year rifles are naturally far more common, even in higher condition, and there are no known “variations” of value. While the 1917 dated rifles, made by Spandau, are rather elusive; about the only 1917 dated Gewehr98 that is, very few people would differentiate between one made by Spandau and the other assemblers. Same applies to 1918 dated rifles; most collectors would have a difficult time distinguishing between the variations.

Next up, Danzig, so stay tuned and feel free to ask questions.

New Blog Post Series

I thought as good a place to start with this series of short articles would be the actual rifle makers. As many are already aware, I have done a series of articles on the state arsenals, the key firm Ludw. Loewe AG, and several smaller articles on DWM variations. However, here I will do short articles on each firm, smaller in scale and scope, which can serve the beginner as a quick reference (for the original article on the subject, refer to MRJ #196 May 2009).


General Freiherr von Lyncker, Paul Mauser and the Gewehr98


Recently Jon Speed decided to share one of his most prized documents from his collection, this one a personal letter from Paul Mauser to General Freiherr von Lyncker, Chief of the Military Cabinet, a personal aide to Kaiser Wilhelm II since 1908. By all accounts a man of impeccable character, from a family with a long and distinguished military tradition. The story of the General is a story unto itself; he was intimately involved with the path to war in 1914, entirely loyal to the German Army and Kaiser. Although like most German Generals of this period, he shied away from politics, he was one of the leading proponents of war, especially with France and Russia, the thinking being that it was an eventuality and best to get it done and over with, – that and it would relieve some of the domestic pressures (strength among the “liberal” political elements in Germany – typical of leaders then and today, they often look to war as a distraction for the public). He was a realist though, his loyalty was to the Kaiser and the Army above all and he had no political ambitions. Once the war began, his “hawkish” nature was extinguished with the death of his two sons, one in September 1914 and the second in February 1917 (a collision with a French aircraft in battle, killing both pilots), the consequence being that he began to side with the civilians in government (Bethmann and Lyncker’s Naval counterpart Georg von Müller) against OHL (Army Supreme Command, – Hindenburg and Ludendorff), seeking a more moderate course with peace in mind. He was never active in this pursuit though, the deaths of his two sons broke his spirit and he largely left official matters to others.

A prewar picture of the Kaiser’s entourage, Lyncker is number 6; Georg von Müller is number 13. Georg von Müller was an important figure during the war, possibly one of the most rational men around the Kaiser at the time, though apparently not well liked.

The letter itself is quite interesting, very courteous as you would expect from a man of Paul Mauser’s character and upbringing, but we lack the earlier correspondence from Lyncker that precipitated this letter. It discusses the delivery of the G98a, that the delivery date could be met after all, due to the material supply improving over previous months. I am uncertain what Paul Mauser means by the G98a, but he refers to parts for the rifles, which is probably the clue to meaning.

The research I have conducted dealing with pre-war rifle (Gewehr98) production suggests that Mauser was making very few rifles for the German Army by 1908. By 1911 the numbers seem to be trivial, and the only meaningful production being done by the Prussian Arsenal at Spandau, all the other Arsenals were engaged with Kar.98a production, and DWM was entirely off line making rifles for the German military. As far as can be determined, only Spandau and Mauser were making Gewehr98’s in 1911, and Mauser’s production was meager. So my interpretation of the letter is referring to component production, probably delivered to Spandau, or possibly the ordnance system.


The only question that remains is why would this situation demand the attention of such important men? It seems like a rather insignificant problem for such a high ranking General to be involved in, and one can only imagine Paul Mauser’s reply was only due to such an important inquirer.

Note the quality of the paper, Paul’s name embossed at the top, the signature using a quill pen, which Jon said was typical of Paul Mauser’s correspondence, but I am sure the importance of the recipient is also a factor.

Mauser Oberndorf Sg98/05 Bayonet Production During World War I

The Mauser Oberndorf Sg98/05 Bayonet


Mauser Oberndorf is a well-known manufacturer of the German “butcher” bayonet, which resembles a butchers knife, but few realize that Mauser Oberndorf was not the actual manufacturer of the bayonets. Some years ago Jon Speed revealed the facts behind the production of the bayonets, in his Collector Grade book titled “Mauser: Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles” page 50; however he left out much of the details of the relationship.


Today, Jon Speed tells us the rest of the story!

Jon Speed recently provided the documents from his archives that show the relationship in detail. During April 1915 Mauser Oberndorf contracted with “Unionwerk Mea G.m.b.H. Elektrotechnishe Fabrik Eisenwerk” at Feuerbach (northwestern suburb of Stuttgart) for the manufacture of 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 bayonets between July 1915 and July 1920, these bayonets were to be made at Mauser’s expense, who would cover operating costs and 1 Mark per bayonet. The contract also allows for a cancellation if the government doesn’t authorize the expenditure.


Although Mauser contracted for such a large number of bayonets, a million and half or more, the bayonets are not especially common, – though not scarce either. Many have been recorded and several studies list it in the “common” category of the manufacturers, however my own research suggests they are one of the “less common” amongst the commonly encountered makers. Known bayonets cover the range 1915-1918, the 1915 dated probably the most difficult to find, probably because production did not begin before July 1915, and 1917-1918 dated the most common date encountered.. Sawback blades are only known dated 1916 and 1917, my research showing 1917 more common than 1916 dated.


The bayonets can also be found with Mauser Oberndorf made scabbards, which are a little less common and in my experience command a small premium over unmarked scabbards. How many bayonets were actually delivered is unknown, or Jon Speed did not say (**), but I suspect many were sent to Turkey, and that probably explains why the Mauser made bayonets are less common than you would expect. I have seen many cut down bayonets that have signs of Turkish service, and it is likely many ended up there. P1020158

Here are some pictures of the actual contract between the two firms, with the signatures of Mauser directors Schmid and Doll.


** Update, Jon Speed was able to determine approximately how many bayonets were made:

Paul , checked in my Mauser records and can say that app. 1,105,900 Bayonets were made by /for Mauser during WWI. I am sure the figure could be a bit higher as the Bayonet data for 1914-15 is not clear. I have a 1916 Bayonet with metal sheath with WFM name on it in small letters. Regards, Jon

Vatikan Paepstliche Schweizergarde Gewehr98’s

As the’s first blog post, I thought we would start with a very interesting, and little known piece of Mauser history shared with me by Jon Speed, who found the story within the Hans Lockhoven files.


Sometime between 1908 and 1911 the Vatican contracted with Mauser Oberndorf, through an intermediate in Düsseldorf, for the purchase of 200 Gewehr98 rifles. These were commercial production rifles, but have the appearance of your typical Gewehr98. In 1989 the commander of the Paepstliche Schweizergarde (Swiss Guard) wrote a letter to Hans Lockhoven and included pictures of one of these 200 rifles, in this case a Mauser Oberndorf / 1908 serial number 77357. Note the condition and the commercial trade marks of Mauser envon the stock, the wrist marking (WM) and trademark on the buttstock are commonly found on commercial rifles of this period. The rifles do not seem to be specially marked, or even used to any appreciable extent.


3                    4                    86   7


Jon Speed also discovered the recording of this sale in his bound books, dated July 1911, so the delivery was probably sometime after that but certainly during 1911. One can only wonder what purpose these rifles were intended to serve, but the Gewehr98 was the standard service rifle of the period, the Gewehr98 in its prime, so it makes sense the Vatican might want to have the most modern arms possible for their small armed guard.