1917 DMW Lugar - value?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by guyshomenet, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. guyshomenet

    guyshomenet New Member

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    I inherited a Lugar and need an approximate range of value. I need to decide if I want to keep, sell, donate - and no need to joke about donating to you ;->

    * DMW with 1917 date stamp

    * Long barrel, adjustable sights

    * Matching serial numbers (2907) on frame and barrel base, though the number on the barrel has been over-stamped, but the original numbers are plainly visible

    * Wood grips and clip has wood knobs

    * No significant finish wear, no rust (clip has some corrosion)

    PHOTOS:

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  2. Danny

    Danny Member

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    Re: 1917 DMW Luger - value?

    Hello,
    Since the barrel has been replaced, the collector value has been eliminated & your weapon has become a shooter grade firearm. As far as value, 800-1000 would be a good number to apply to this weapon. Sorry for the bad news.
    Kindest Regards
    Danny
  3. guyshomenet

    guyshomenet New Member

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    Thanks Danny for the feedback.

    However, the barrel has not been replaced. The original serial numbers are bold, present and match those on the frame. What appears to have happened is some attempt to stamp either some additional number over/near the original barrel serial numbers, or perhaps an odd double stamp.

    So, assuming that this is the case (which is much easier to see live and in person), what might the the appropriate price range?
  4. wonderwhippet

    wonderwhippet Active Member

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    Danny is right, the large boldly stamped numbers are the new numbers which have been stamped over the original barrel numbers. When the barrel was changed the matching numbers were stamped on in an effort to match the replacement barrel to the rest of the pistol. This is called a "forced match." The new numbers are very crude and do not match the original numbers in size and font style. Another giveaway that the barrel has been replaced is that the witness mark on the barrel and frame do not line up. Unfortunately, this one non-matching part relegates this pistol to being a "parts gun" which has value only as a shooter.
  5. guyshomenet

    guyshomenet New Member

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    Hmmm. I have to rely on the expertise of people more knowledgeable than myself, so I'll bow to Danny and wonderwhippet.

    My only push-backs would be that the photos don't relate the physical realities well. In my hands:

    a) The '2907' barrel marks appear the be the original strike (similar depth, size, cut as the frame serial numbers) with the 'overstamp' numbers being shallower and indistinct.

    b) I checked the fonts. The '2907' fonts appear to be the same on the barrel and left-side of the frame, though the the font next to the trigger guard has a different looking '9' (odd that the two frame serial numbers would have a single digit that looks different - the difference being the tail on the 9). I would expect (perhaps wrongly) that the two frame numbers would have the same font.

    BTW, being a newbie, what is the significance of the scripted letter under the barrel serial number? Mine looks like a 'g' and I have seen others with a 'k'.
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    First, the letter suffix is part of the serial number. The German military numbering system began with 1 (at the start of each year for each maker) and went to 9999, then 1a to 9999a, 1b to 9999b, and so on. So a complete description of a Luger must include the maker, the date and the serial number with the suffix letter if any.

    Second, I believe the 2907 g is the overstamp, but that does not mean the barrel was replaced any time recently. It was common practice for German armorers to number replacement barrels to the gun. That would not be noticed if the barrel were a true replacement and unnumbered, but if the barrel had been taken off a cannibalized gun the new numbers would overstamp the originals. Also, the 2907 is cutting through the bluing, where the original numbers were put on before the gun was blued.

    OK, but the problem is that with artillery Lugers bringing a premium, and a lot of fakes out there, how would we know whether the barrel was replaced by a German military armorer in 1918 or by Joe Blatz last month? Or if it replaced an artillery barrel or was put on a common Luger in order to boost the price? The answer is that we don't unless guyshomenet can provide some documentation that the gun has been in his family untouched since 1918. A careful personal examination might provide other clues, such as the condition of the rear toggle where an original rear sight would have been removed if the gun did not start out as an artillery model. There are several reasons to doubt the gun is a fake, one of which is that the faker had to have a genuine barrel, and another is that a faker would probably have removed the original number. Also, the new stamping appears to be in a German (or at least European) font.

    While the replacement barrel, if it is a military replacement, would still hurt the collector value, it does not destroy it. If it can be reasonably shown that the barrel replacement was an armorer job, I would WAG the value at around $2000.

    And sorry, wonderwhippet, the failure of the draw lines to match perfectly does NOT necessarily mean a replacement barrel, and such misalignment is quite common in perfectly original guns. The story that they were originally made with one tool is false, started by folks who didn't really know what those marks are or how/why they were used.

    Jim
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  7. wonderwhippet

    wonderwhippet Active Member

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    Jim, serious Luger collectors (of which I am one) would always regard misaligned witness marks as a sign that some tampering has taken place, and the gun would no longer be regarded as original. I do, however, have a question for guyshomenet. What are the numbers stamped on the rear sight? It would be interesting to know if they were taken off the original gun or if they were included with the replacement barrel.
  8. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    I hate to get in the middle of this but it's been my experience that "Serious Luger collectors" make up the rules as they go along many times. Sometimes to justify their mistakes... Sometimes to de-value someone else's Luger... And sometimes because they simply can't find the correct answer no matter how much research they do....... And sometimes it even works out to the unsuspecting "New" collector's advantage.

    End of rant...
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, wonderwhippet,

    Yes, I know what some serious Luger collectors believe, but unfortunately they are wrong. Their arguments are loud, long, even sometimes vicious and obsessive, but they are still wrong.

    I will try to explain, as briefly as possible, what those marks are.

    The Luger, like some other pistols and rifles, presents a manufacturing problem: the extractor cut in the barrel has to be made with the barrel out of the gun. Some people believe that problem was solved by installing the barrel, marking the barrel and receiver, then removing the barrel, making the extractor cut, and reinstalling the barrel, lining up the marks as best possible. That is one theory* but it is not the way it was done; the Luger barrel was installed once, and only once.

    The receiver was marked after completion using a jig and a small chisel. The barrel, made in a separate shop**, was threaded, then turned down to shape but leaving a ring shaped "boss" at the front. A gauge with threads was run down on the rear of the barrel, tightened by hand, and a small chisel within the gauge was used to mark a "draw line" or, to be more precise, a reference point. The barrel was then jigged up and, using the line as a reference point, the extractor cut and the front sight base were machined 180 degrees from that mark. After the barrel was bored and rifled, the breech was turned to spec and the barrel short chambered.

    The relationship of the receiver line to thread start, plus the way the barrel gauge was made, ensured that when the barrel was screwed into the receiver and the marks lined up, the barrel torque was correct and the sight and extractor cut were properly lined up. Usually no fitting at all would be required.

    That system allowed the barrel to be installed one time, correctly, and also allowed manufacture of spare barrels that would always fit properly with little or no adjustment.***

    Whether the marks line up precisely is solely due to the care taken by the barrel installer. If he was skilled, and in no hurry, the marks will be aligned perfectly. If he was less skilled, or there was wartime pressure, the marks may be a bit off, but still within specifications.

    You will find the same kind of markings on Lahti pistols, U.S. M1903, M1903A3, and M1917 rifles; British P-14 rifles, etc., and they are there for the same reason.

    *If this theory is true, then every Luger barrel was installed twice and the marks would still not always line up; the argument that misalignment means "tampering" is self defeating.

    **At gun factories, barrel making is always a separate operation with the barrel makers not knowing or caring whether a given barrel will be used in firearm assembly or used as a spare barrel. The system must allow replacement of barrels, especially in the field, with as little fitting as possible.

    ***Spare Luger barrels have the draw line already marked.

    P.S. No, the Ruger .22 pistol is NOT done the same way.

    HTH

    Jim
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  10. Danny

    Danny Member

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    Re: 1917 DMW Luger - value?

    Jim I hate to rebut your opinion, but that barrel has been replaced & not restruck at the factory. After collecting these for over 30 years, Wonderwhippet even longer, you become a perfectionist to collecting. Reading all the history that you can & talking to as many experienced individuals as possible. I think the gent should post this on Jan Stills Luger Forum, if he has doubts to our knowledge. Also you gave a value price that is very misleading. My 1917 Artillery is 95% and it would sell for 3 grand. This Luger is a shooter & priced accordingly.
    Kind Regards
    Danny
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I defer to you on the value estimate, but if you say the barrel was not renumbered at the factory, I agree and I never said that. I said replacement barrels installed in the field were usually numbered to the gun by the armorer, and that is true.

    As to the use of the "witness marks" or "draw lines", I don't need to consult anyone. I simply told you how it was done, not only on Lugers, but on other guns at other arms factories where the same problem was encountered. I am well aware that many "experts" who study those guns in a vacuum with no knowledge of production techniques and often not even any knowledge of the way they function have said otherwise.

    Jim
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