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TD's Colt TSMG Amateur Guide & "JHB" Stamp Revelatio


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#1 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 18 May 2019 - 01:41 PM

TD's book, "An Amateur's Guide for the Colt's Thompson Submachine Gun,"  mentions the "JHB"  stamp several times and  specifically on page 173. There are two significant components to the "JHB" stamp that involve shipping dates from AOC and original finish of a Colt TSMG.

 

"Most, but not all Colt's will have the JHB inspection mark on the upper right side of the receiver. If this mark is struck very light or uneven, review carefully for signs of buffing/reblue."

 

The prevailing lore regarding  retired U.S. Army Major James H. Barrett inspection mark "JHB" is that, as an employee of AOC working at the Colt Hartford plant, he performed this service on finished Colt TSMGs during the  little over a year production period before storing them in the warehouse on the Colt factory premises. If this were true, what explanation could there be for him not stamping thousands of Colt's with his "JHB" mark? Is it more likely that Barrett stamped his "JHB" mark on a Colt TSMG at the point of sale?

 

Of course Barrett's duties consisted of much more than stamping Colt receivers. He was responsible for keeping records of orders to be shipped to customers. He is even mentioned in the  FBI  case 52-505 investigation into the "shipment of arms and ammunition on S/S Eastside Sinn Fein activities."  

 

To my knowledge, the dates of Barrett's employment with AOC have not been established. But perhaps the date of his departure from AOC can be connected to the time when his "JHB" stamp stopped appearing on thousands of Colt TSMGs. 

 

As the "JHB" mark can be found on low and relatively high serial numbers of the 15,000 Colt TSMGs (Colt Navy #12666 has "JHB" stamp) there seems to be a cut-off point as it relates to the date of sale of a Colt TSMG. Making a deduction from the reported sales and comparing them to examples of Colt's without the "JHB" stamp, that date occurs around June, 1934. That the National Firearms Act was enacted on June 26, 1934 may be coincidental. 

 

Colt #11410,  supposedly one of the 951 Colt Thompson's purchased by the US government on June 30, 1939, does not have the JHB stamp (see photo). Are the rest of the 950 missing the stamp as well?  Are there any "JHB" stamps on the 3,000 Colt TSMG Model 1921A and Model 1928 ordered by France in 1939 or the January 25, 1940 contract of 500  ordered by the Royal Swedish army? No "JHB" stamp on these examples of Swedish Colt TSMGs M/40. (see photos). Add all of these up with examples of police department Colt TSMGs without the "JHB" stamp and the number seems to close in around  1/3, or more, of the 15,000 Colt TSMGs do not have the "JHB" stamp.

 

 Attached File  NO 11410 is one of the 951 Colt Thompson's purchased by the US government on June 30, 1939..jpg   34.07K   21 downloads

Attached File  Swedish Colt 1921A no JHB stamp.jpg   37.48K   20 downloads

Attached File  Swedish Colt TSMG m40. no JHB markjpg.jpg   47.54K   16 downloads

 

TD's book includes photos of examples of "JHB" stamps that are demonstrative of more than the presence or absence of this stamp.  There appears to be evidence that Barrett stamped his "JHB"  into finished Colt TSMGs  already blued receivers before shipping. 

 

P. 63. "JHB" stamp on Colt #4328 looks blued over.

Attached File  P63 JHB.JPG   48.68K   14 downloads

 

P. 49   Colt #4953 "JHB" stamp not blued over

Attached File  p.49 Colt #4953 JHB not blued over.JPG   39.17K   14 downloads

 

Additional examples:

Colt #6320 not blued JHB stamp (see photo)

Attached File  JHB unblued inspector stamp on Colt #6320 sold 2010.jpg   9.76K   13 downloads
Colt #9807 not blued JHB stamp (see photo)

Attached File  Colt #9807 JHB unblued stamp.jpg   18.18K   10 downloads

 

 

 


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#2 reconbob

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Posted 18 May 2019 - 07:27 PM

   This is interesting but we will never know the answer, however, I do not imagine that they

intended for one guy - JHB - to personally inspect and stamp 15,000 guns.

    To imagine what would be involved in doing this consider that if he could inspect and mark

one gun a minute it would take over six weeks to accomplish this working 8 hours a day doing

nothing else.

     But how long does it take to give a gun a genuine "pre-shipping" inspection? Do you cock

and snap the gun? Semi and full? Do you check the fit of a magazine and/or drum? Do you

check the bore? Or do you trust and assume that this has all been done in previous inspections

and just give the gun a visual once over?

     What kind of stamp is used? A hammer type stamp where the JHB is engraved into the

head of the hammer and you just strike the surface? Or was the stamp a hand stamp to be held

then struck with a hammer? Or perhaps the stamp was set up in a arbor press with the gun

laid in a fixture and the impression made. This would insure an even as opposed to uneven mark.

     950 guns would take almost 16 hours at the rate of one gun a minute.

     Usually these type of inspections and marks are overseen by a chief inspector with others -

doing the actual inspection and marking.

     None of this answers anything other than they had no plan to mark every gun.

 

Bob


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#3 TD.

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 09:30 AM

reconbob,

I like how you intertwine analysis and theory with how much time the actual process may take. Far from simple dealing with more than one gun!  Regarding how the mark was applied, I don’t believe I have ever seen a double strike of the JHB mark on the right side of the receiver - or in any location other than on the upper front right side of the receiver. This leads me to believe the mark was applied by some type of machine while the receiver was in a jig. Like you say, all guesses but interesting to talk about.   

Arthur,

Thank you for reading my book! You made some excellent comments regarding the JHB stamp. In an early draft I mentioned the JHB marking appears more in the early guns than the later guns. Upon review, I realized I really could not back this up with anything other than my picture files (which is pretty definitive; NO 12666 was not lost on me).  I decided to defer to the main purpose of the book regarding the JHB inspector stamp; inform prospective buyers and enthusiasts the lack of a JHB mark is generally not a cause for concern.

Given the about 1/3 of the Colt’s sold by Auto-Ordnance happened in 1939 and 1940, it is no surprise to me that the JHB stamp is missing on quite a few Colt’s . However, most of the Colt’s you referenced are not in the NFA Registry or even in the USA. Very few of the 3,000 Colt’s shipped to France have surfaced; same with the 951 Colt’s sold to the US government; and likewise with the 500 sent to Sweden.  These three sales account for 4,451 Colt’s – the final disposition of most is unknown.  I did not feel it necessary to make a more definitive statement about the JHB marking or lack thereof on these later Colt’s.  That said, I do agree with your analysis and believe this area needs more study. This is great stuff to discuss on an Internet Forum! And what makes the Thompson forum one of the best places on the Internet.

I am hoping to take pictures and write a story on one of these 4.451 Colt’s in the near future, one that does not have the JHB mark. Perhaps, I will include some of these observations in that story.   

 


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#4 gijive

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 10:28 AM

All,

 

Interesting discussion and something that I have wondered about myself.  I have seen JHB stamps with some overlap in the stamping as shown in the example Arthur posted (see below) but agree they are normally pretty consistent and in the same approximate area on the gun.

 

Attached File  post-110-0-06102300-1558200921.jpg   9.76K   3 downloads

 

Since the June 1934 date was mentioned, I knew of two guns shipped the same day to the same police agency in Illinois.  Thompson #'s 8888 and 12074 were shipped to the Oak Park Police Department on June 15, 1934. Number 8888 has the JHB stamp and 12074 does not.  Not sure what conclusions can be drawn from that, but my personal observation from guns and pictures of guns seen is that the higher serial numbered guns tend to be missing the stamp more than the lower numbered guns.

 

If the theory is correct about stamping them when they were shipped, maybe stamping one in a shipment was sufficient for their inspection purposes?  I do agree that the answer to this may never be known, but do enjoy the discussion and theories.


Edited by gijive, 22 May 2019 - 10:49 AM.

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#5 Bob

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 10:22 AM

My Colt was purchased Feb 6th 1933 and it has the JHB stamp. It's in the 68 hundred serial number range.


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#6 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 06:03 PM

  I do not imagine that they intended for one guy - JHB - to personally inspect and stamp 15,000 guns.To imagine what would be involved in doing this consider that if he could inspect and mark one gun a minute it would take over six weeks to accomplish this working 8 hours a day doing

nothing else. Or perhaps the stamp was set up in a arbor press with the gunlaid in a fixture and the impression made. This would insure an even as opposed to uneven mark. 950 guns would take almost 16 hours at the rate of one gun a minute. Usually these type of inspections and marks are overseen by a chief inspector with others -
doing the actual inspection and marking.

 Bob,

Sure. Barrett was the chief quality control inspector with underlings working for him. But if they had the authority to wield the "JHB" stamp how did they miss all the 14,000 and 13,000 serial  range Colt TSMGs? But your scenario seems to support the idea that the stamping was not performed at the point the finished Colt TSMGs came off the assembly line. The production lasted 16 months and there were still nearly 5000  Colt TSMGs unsold by 1937.  AOC had nothing but time to apply the "JHB" stamp if that was their goal on all 15,000 examples. How did so many escape the warehouse sans "JHB" stamp unless it was intentional?

 

As the "JHB" stamp can be seen to the left of the actuator, under the actuator, closer to the top of the receiver and with uneven impression marks of the circle around the initials, it doesn't appear the receiver was placed in a fixed position underneath a stamping machine. One stamp seems to have a different font.Attached File  JHB mark closer to top.JPG   31.65K   8 downloadsAttached File  Colt #2279 JHB under actuator.JPG   45.18K   9 downloadsAttached File  Colt #7244 JHB to left of actuator.JPG   47.88K   10 downloadsAttached File  Colt #133 uneven stamped JHB.JPG   73.98K   26 downloadsAttached File  Colt Navy #5862 GI Jive JHB different J.jpg   59.86K   24 downloads


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#7 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 06:15 PM

Given the about 1/3 of the Colt’s sold by Auto-Ordnance happened in 1939 and 1940, it is no surprise to me that the JHB stamp is missing on quite a few Colt’s . However, most of the Colt’s you referenced are not in the NFA Registry or even in the USA. Very few of the 3,000 Colt’s shipped to France have surfaced; same with the 951 Colt’s sold to the US government; and likewise with the 500 sent to Sweden.  These three sales account for 4,451 Colt’s – the final disposition of most is unknown.  I did not feel it necessary to make a more definitive statement about the JHB marking or lack thereof on these later Colt’s.  That said, I do agree with your analysis and believe this area needs more study. This is great stuff to discuss on an Internet Forum! And what makes the Thompson forum one of the best places on the Internet.

 

Why would Colt TSMGs that came off the assembly line in May, June July 1922 not have the "JHB" mark unless they were sold after Barrett left AOC?  It's not as if at the time of production these were intentionally set aside for foreign sales.  The examples of Colt TSMGs in the 13,000 and 14,000 range that have been up for sale in the USA that were sold by AOC years before 1939  appear to all be missing the  "JHB" stamp. 


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#8 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 06:27 PM

 but my personal observation from guns and pictures of guns seen is that the higher serial numbered guns tend to be missing the stamp more that the lower numbered guns.

 

If the theory is correct about stamping them when they were shipped, maybe stamping one in a shipment was sufficient for their inspection purposes?  I do agree that the answer to this may never be known, but do enjoy the discussion and theories.

 Chuck,

  

Colt #14033 that the  RIA auction promoted as being connected to the F.B.I. in the October, 1934 shooting of PBF does not have a "JHB" stamp  that Federal Laboratories  sold to East Liverpool, Ohio PD  around July, 1934.   As far a low serial number examples,  #4488 was sold by AOC in 1939 and it does not have a "JHB" stamp while  #8797 also sold in 1939 does have a "JHB" stamp, but it also has a Type I Cutts. Perhaps #8797 was indeed sold, or ready to be shipped, before July, 1934 and that is why it has the stamp?  Why would AOC place a Type I Cutts on a 1939  Colt 1928 Navy AC order unless it was already fitted to that Colt as per a previous order?


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#9 gijive

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 09:22 AM

 but my personal observation from guns and pictures of guns seen is that the higher serial numbered guns tend to be missing the stamp more that the lower numbered guns.

 

If the theory is correct about stamping them when they were shipped, maybe stamping one in a shipment was sufficient for their inspection purposes?  I do agree that the answer to this may never be known, but do enjoy the discussion and theories.

 Chuck,

  

Colt #14033 that the  RIA auction promoted as being connected to the F.B.I. in the October, 1934 shooting of PBF does not have a "JHB" stamp  that Federal Laboratories  sold to East Liverpool, Ohio PD  around July, 1934.   As far a low serial number examples,  #4488 was sold by AOC in 1939 and it does not have a "JHB" stamp while  #8797 also sold in 1939 does have a "JHB" stamp, but it also has a Type I Cutts. Perhaps #8797 was indeed sold, or ready to be shipped, before July, 1934 and that is why it has the stamp?  Why would AOC place a Type I Cutts on a 1939  Colt 1928 Navy AC order unless it was already fitted to that Colt as per a previous order?

Arthur,

No argument here.  I would agree that # 8797 probably was ready for shipment but didn't get shipped.  It would be very unlikely a Type I compensator was installed at that late date.


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#10 TD.

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 10:04 AM

Arthur,
Great questions. Unfortunately, we will probably never know the answers with any degree of certainty.
 
As a thought, perhaps John Barrett's tenure with Auto-Ordnance is not the key. Is it possible that after production of the Thompson guns at Colt's reached a certain level, Barrett's (and his teams) inspection and marking of most individual Thompson guns was no longer required by AOC. Perhaps, the inspection and marking was only carried out on sample lots of Thompson deliveries to Auto-Ordnance in the later stages of production. And may have ended somewhere in the 13,000 to 15,000 range. There is no doubt sales did not keep up with production as the Auto-Ordnance storage facility at Colt's was full of new guns - more arriving each week!
 
Of course, the above statement is just my thinking out loud.
 
A review of my picture file reveals the JHB mark on the following Colt's in the 12,000 serial number range:
 
NO 12090
NO 12489
NO 12630
NO 12666
NO 12962
 
I only find one with the JHB mark in the 13,000 serial number range - NO 13104. And none in the 14,000 and 15,000 range.
 
That said, I have many guns in those serial number ranges where I cannot tell from the pictures if the mark is present or not, i.e., no right side picture or low resolution of picture.
 

 


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#11 giantpanda4

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 11:41 AM

Just a thought - could the original ship dates for stamped vs. non-stamped guns be compared? That data exists - somewhere.

It might show the date range when stamps were being applied and when not. My assumption here is they maybe were stamped just before they went out the door.


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#12 ThompsonCrazy

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 04:54 PM

To my eyes: The one on the left looks stamped and the one on the right looks engraved.

 

TC


 


 Colt #133 uneven stamped JHB.JPGattachicon.gif Colt Navy #5862 GI Jive JHB different J.jpg


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#13 Bridgeport28A1

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 06:42 AM

To my eyes: The one on the left looks stamped and the one on the right looks engraved.

 

TC


 


 Colt #133 uneven stamped JHB.JPGattachicon.gif Colt Navy #5862 GI Jive JHB different J.jpg

 

I agree that the JHB on the right looks engraved. It has rounded ends on the letters.


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#14 gijive

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 08:34 AM

All,

 

That stamp is engraved.  The picture is from the original 1928 Navy that I once owned and had restored many years ago, much to my dismay after I had it done.  The restoration process obviously removed the faint JHB stamp and it had to be recreated using a pantograph system to restore the stamp.  Good call on the Board Members that spotted that.

 

In the interest of disclosure, in case anyone is wondering, the gun was later sold and it was made clear at the time of sale that the gun had been restored and refinished.  It was not passed off as original.  I have been in contact with the current owner and he is aware of the history of the gun and the restoration.  The gun was sold a couple of times, the last time at auction by RIA, where the current owner bought it from.  The gun was clearly advertised as refinished in the RIA description of the gun.


Edited by gijive, 27 May 2019 - 08:41 AM.

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#15 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 06:46 PM

Colt 1921A #12383, another one from the 1939 French order and now resides in Switzerland,  is also missing "JHB".   


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