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Thread: Hidden gems (2). Three pop-out pistols

  1. #1
    ccdjg is offline Airgun Alchemist, Collector and Scribe
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    Hidden gems (2). Three pop-out pistols

    You either love ‘em or hate ‘em, but pop-out pistols make great collectables for those with an interest in air gun history and a limited budget. Some can be very expensive, but most do not have to cost an arm and a leg. If you are a collector of these, then it is well to be aware of the rare variants that can go unnoticed because their unique features are not obvious a first glance. Here are three pairs of pistols that are good examples. In each case one pistol is the one most commonly seen, and the other is a subtle variant which is much rarer and desirable. See if you can spot which one is the rarer in each case.














    Taking the first pistol pair, these are so-called “Dolla” pistols, made in Germany over a long period, starting from the very early 1880’s up to the outbreak of World War 2. They are simple pop-out pistols made of cast steel, and although roughly similar in appearance, several distinct variants and makers have been identified. The first model to be made was produced by Eisenwerke Gaggenau from about 1882-1900, and was sold as their “Model 2” (the EG No 2). It is much rarer than subsequent models of the same design made by other manufacturers.


    The lower Dolla pistol in the picture is an example of the EG No 2, whereas the upper pistol is a much more common later type Dolla. If you ever spot the EG No. 2, snap it up! Apart from its rarity, it also has the kudos of being an authentic Eisenwerke Gaggenau product that will be at least 120 years old.

    So how do you distinguish the EG No 2 from later versions?
    The first thing to look for is the number of pins/screws above the trigger guard. The genuine EG No 2 shown on the right below, has three of these whereas all other versions have just two. Another easy way to tell is to look at the right hand grip screw. In the EG the screw is set in a diamond shape. Both of these features of the EG2 are clearly shown in the 1895 Eisenwerke Gaggenau catalogue:









    The second pair of pistols shown are of course Harrington Gats. Both are early versions and have identical markings, but the upper pistol pictured is the very first version of the Gat, and is much rarer and more desirable to the collector than the lower later one. They are so rare, I suspect few have come across one of these, and if they have they probably gave it only a cursory glance, shrugging it off as yet another ordinary Gat. The most easily spotted difference between the two is the absence of a cork-firing adapter on the muzzle of the first version. The very first Gats, dating from just before WW2, had no cork adapter and this feature was not introduced until the late 1940’s. A less obvious difference is that the grip plates on the first version are real, and can be screwed off from the frame.








    The final pair of pop-out pistols are post-war German Diana Model 2 pistols, also sold in the UK under the name ‘Original’. The fact that these are post-war guns is indicated by the chequering on the grip, the pre-war wood grip guns having a smooth grip. However, the lower model is much rarer than the upper one, and is one that few collectors are aware of. It is a transitional model, bridging the gap between the pre-war smooth grip version and the common post-war chequered version. It would have been available for only a very short period around 1955. It may not have been sold in the UK, and even in Germany it is rare.

    Apart from the fact that the rare transitional pistol has a darker stained grip (which may not necessarily always be the case), how do you tell them apart? It is not easy to see from the first picture I provided, but the rarer pistol lacks the ridges round the grip edge that is always present in the commoner model. You can see the difference better in the following comparison. So my advice is, whenever you see a chequered grip Model 2 for sale, try to ascertain if the grip is smooth edged. If it is, then you have something a bit special, and if the seller is not aware of this peculiarity you may be able to get it for a song.



  2. #2
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    Fastinating! Thank you for detailed informative posting, with great quality photos 👍

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    micky2 is offline The collector formerly known as micky
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    Hi John, many thanks for the above information, l do know about the Harrington Gat, as l have had 3 of them in the past. but l did not know about the other 2, something else to try and remember to look out for.

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    Really informative . I had a Mod2 as my first airgun when i was about 13, I swapped it for a baseball glove

    I wasant aware it was that old as it didn't have chequering and I would unscrew the end and remove the mainspring to give it a good clean and regrease from time to time

    Got up to a lot of mischief with it

  5. #5
    ccdjg is offline Airgun Alchemist, Collector and Scribe
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    Quote Originally Posted by micky2 View Post
    Hi John, many thanks for the above information, l do know about the Harrington Gat, as l have had 3 of them in the past. but l did not know about the other 2, something else to try and remember to look out for.
    Amazing that you have owned three pre-war Gats, Mick. I have only ever managed to nail one, but it was boxed. I hope you added a bit of a premium when you passed them on!

    Cheers
    John

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    micky2 is offline The collector formerly known as micky
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    Hi John, l sold 2 of them to Malcolm Atkins for £60 with most of its original paint and £30 with no finish and a few knocks.

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    Thumbs up

    Lovely old things!

    I sold a Dolla pistol at the Melbourne collectors fayre!




    Still have a nice old Original mod2 though..





    John
    for my gunz guitarz and bonzai, see here
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  8. #8
    ccdjg is offline Airgun Alchemist, Collector and Scribe
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    I have just been following the Golding, Young and Mawer auction online, and two early post-war Gats went for £15 and £18, and a rare pre-war Gat (in good condition and with the grey alloy finish) went for £18. Someone got a bargain, even allowing for their ridiculous commission charge of 35% !

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    I have just been following the Golding, Young and Mawer auction online, and two early post-war Gats went for £15 and £18, and a rare pre-war Gat (in good condition and with the grey alloy finish) went for £18. Someone got a bargain, even allowing for their ridiculous commission charge of 35% !
    Bargains! There seems to be a ceiling on prices for 'cheapo'-type airguns, even very rare ones. I've noticed this with prewar youth and tinplate rifles, unless they were made to very high 'adult' quality standards, like the Diana mod 30 underlever, BSA Juvenile etc.
    Vintage Airguns Gallery
    ..Above link posted with permission from Gareth W-B
    In British slang an anorak is a person who has a very strong interest in niche subjects.

  10. #10
    ccdjg is offline Airgun Alchemist, Collector and Scribe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
    Bargains! There seems to be a ceiling on prices for 'cheapo'-type airguns, even very rare ones. I've noticed this with prewar youth and tinplate rifles, unless they were made to very high 'adult' quality standards, like the Diana mod 30 underlever, BSA Juvenile etc.
    Very true of auctions Danny, until you try to buy one from a dealer! Currently unboxed Gats (post-war) are being offered for around £40-60 by various dealers.

  11. #11
    micky2 is offline The collector formerly known as micky
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    I have just been following the Golding, Young and Mawer auction online, and two early post-war Gats went for £15 and £18, and a rare pre-war Gat (in good condition and with the grey alloy finish) went for £18. Someone got a bargain, even allowing for their ridiculous commission charge of 35% !
    Hi John, l would have bid on the pre-war Gat as l only live 32 miles away, but still being unable to drive at the moment. but l did ask for a postage quote and got a reply of £48.70 plus with their fees would have made it £76.

  12. #12
    ccdjg is offline Airgun Alchemist, Collector and Scribe
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    Quote Originally Posted by micky2 View Post
    Hi John, l would have bid on the pre-war Gat as l only live 32 miles away, but still being unable to drive at the moment. but l did ask for a postage quote and got a reply of £48.70 plus with their fees would have made it £76.
    Same with me. There was no way I could drive there and the postage was crazy. Probably for the best that both of us could not be there, as we might have ended up bidding against each other!

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