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Thread: British Military Proof Mark

  1. #1
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    British Military Proof Mark

    I am researching Austrian and German sporting rifles that have a British military proof mark, of crossed pennants, as shown in the attached photos. So far this seems to have been applied to rifles in 6.5mm caliber and also bearing British commercial proof marks.

    As yet I have not been able to find any written documentation that explains this British military proof mark, although I do have a few thoughts.

    Has anyone else seen this marking on any other Austrian or German rifles? So far I have around half a dozen rifles noted, with this mark.

    Regards

    AlanD
    SydneyJeffery 2.jpgJeffery 3.jpg

    Please ignor bottom two photos I cant seem to delete them.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Very unusual. I have seen the British acceptance pennant mark not only on military rifles, but on Mannlicher rifles retailed by the Army & Navy coop stores too. AFAIK the pennant mark on British miltary arms is always surrounded by the initials of the monarch, VR or GR, and the letter P.
    But at least equally unusual is the "eagle" in your second photo, with one head and two staffs in the fangs. This is neither a German, Austrian nor a Polish proof or military acceptance eagle as I know them. The object raising from the beak may be a falling spruce, part of the coat of arms of the Bohemian gunmaking town Weipert? My guess: The mark of an unidentified wholesaler/exporter/importer?
    Last edited by Axel E; 01-04-2016 at 07:36 PM.

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    The above rifle was retailed by Jeffrey. This crossed pennant mark without any letters surrounding it has been seen on rifles retailed by Pape, a Newcastle gun maker. See photo of crossed pennants on the Pape 6.5mm Steyr


    Pape with crossed pennents.jpg

    Any more info on the Eagle would be appreciated. I thought it was an Austrian proof mark? Perhaps it was applied before the rifle was exported, or by the UK agent for Steyr.

    Do you have any pictures of the Army & Navy supplied rifles, or any other info such as serial number?

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney

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    Sorry, but the 2 "Army & Navy" Mannlichers have long disappeared from my view, as I saw them several years ago, one at a time. Both were "Old model Mannlichers", M 92 – 95 actions and barrels. One was completely restocked and resighted in Britain, but not by Gibbs, probably Birmingham, the other had the sporterized, shortened, reshaped, checkered Steyr factory military straight grip stock and British express sights.
    When looking at proof- and other marks, "looks like" is not enough. You also have to look at the finer details. German and (post-WW1) polish eagles hold no items in the fangs. Your second eagle, on the "Pape" rifle, looks a bit more like the Austrian one, that held an orb in his left fang and a sceptre in his right. But the Austrian eagle up to 1918 had TWO HEADS looking in opposite directions, the "Habsburg Double Eagle". Additionally, the Austrian proofmark eagle has the number of the proofhouse on it's body, 1 = Ferlach, 2 = Weipert, 3 = Prag, 4 = Vienna. As the Vienna proofhouse was responsible for Steyr also, a proofmark eagle should have a 4 on it's chest. The "republican" post-1918 eagle had a single head, but hammer and siccle in the claws, clearly not the objects shown on your rifles. And, no Austrian proof eagle holds an object like the "Weipert toppling spruce" in the beak.
    Before 1900, you sometimes find marks that look like some "official proof marks" on guns, but are not. F.i. I have seen some guns by Scherping with a mark very similar to the London GP mark without the other British proofmarks , but is not on closer inspection. Trade- and other marks, certainly those of ather countries, were not as protected and defended as they are now. Just small differences easily seen by a knowing man was enough. Under the recceiver rings of WW1 Gew98s you see and intertwined S and H sometimes, thought by many to mean "Haenel – Schmeisser", but it stand for Siemens & Halske. Haenel used a similar S and H only later, in the 1930s.
    BTW, on both photos you posted, the "pennant" and "eagle" marks appear to have been struck at the same time.

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    Mannlicher 10.jpg

    One more, this time on a .375 X 2.5"

    The Eagle and crossed pennant markings seems to be close together on all the examples I have seen.

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney
    Last edited by AlanD; 01-07-2016 at 05:00 AM. Reason: Spelling

  6. #6
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    This is completely a "shot in the dark", but could these marks be from a quasi governmental commercial enterprise similar to the "East India Company"?
    Mike

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    Hi AlanD, only in your last photo I saw where the eagle and pennant marks are on your Mannlichers, on the bolt lug rail of the ejection port. I looked up the two Mannlichers I have now, a 1898 dated Portuguese M95 cavalry carbine (same as the M93 Roumanian) and a 1899 dated M95 by G.Gibbs, Bristol, both in 6.5x53R aka .256 Mannlicher. Both have that non-proofhouse eagle in the same place, but beside it is a "T in circle" instead of your pennants/crossed flags. As these circled letters are known as Steyr factory personal final inspector's marks, I assume the eagle to be the general final factory quality control mark and your crossed pennants to be an earlier personal mark. Post-1900 Steyr guns, including pistols, show a circled K instead of the T. Or, the pennant mark may have been an early factory mark for rifles set aside for export to England? As you know, up to at least 1905 Mannlichers and Mannlicher-Schoenauers were exported in full military configuration and sporterized to varying degrees by Gibbs and Birmingham gunmakers. 2 pages from the 1910-11 Jeffery catalog:


    quoted after Truesdell from a letter from St.George Littledale to Denis Lyell: "In 1895 Sir Edmund Loder gave me a Mannlicher rifle, bayonet and all complete on the eve of starting for Tibet. Had only time to have the sighting altered. On my protesting that I had a room full of riflesand did not want any more, all he said was try the Mannlicher, and like Lily Langtry and the soap, ihave used no other since."

  8. #8
    I've been reading this thread with considerable interest--anything on turnbolt Mannlichers is apt to interest me--but with little clarity on the mystery markings. Then I realized that the bird-like device shown on the right receiver rail above is the very thing the military rifle collectors call the Romanian Phoenix. I did a bit of googling and didn't turn up much at all on the phoenix in Romanian or Transylvanian iconography, so I do wonder where the military collectors got their ID. There is currently a M1904 "Irish" military Mannlicher rifle in 7.9 m/m for sale on a web site, with a pretty good depiction of the T-in-circle marking, along with the bird. It is interesting that while the device accompanying the bird varies over time, the feathered thing seems to continue. Maybe it is a phoenix; surely someone knows. Dan

  9. #9
    I think this would be a good time and place to plug a book in GGCA inventory, "The Standard Directory of Proof Marks". It probably wouldn't help here but I thought that I would mention it.

  10. #10
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    Just a few comments on the above posts.
    Mike Ford. I had similar thoughts to yourself. If we accept that the crossed pennants mark is a British military proof mark - and it certainly looks like one, then this could be explained by a quantity of 6.5mm rifles being required for some quasi official organization that had a need for such rifles. The question remains, which organization? Secondly, the rifles would have been proofed at the factory and then proofed again in London or Birmingham, why would they need a third proofing - doesn't really make sense.

    Axel E and Dan Patch. I was not aware of the circled T being next to the 'bird' on other rifles, perhaps the crossed pennant mark is a factory inspection mark? Other firms have used a similar devise such as the Braendlin Armoury Company. This may be the most simple explanation and the theory of it being a British military proof merely a 'red herring'?

    If anyone could post an image showing the 'bird and T in a circle mark I would be most grateful.

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney

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