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Stalin's Thompson


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#1 knobcreeknut

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 05:48 PM

In the R. L. Wilson book steel canvas he states that Wilbur Glahn under contract by colt engraved an A. O, thompson for Joseph Stalin, and that he had seen the gun in a moscow museum. I have searched the net, but cant find any other info or pics. Same book says glahn did a thompson for Alvaro Obregon of mexico. doesn't state maufactuer. any info on either gun would be interesting. Any one ever see pics?
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#2 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 07:07 PM

All authorities agree that Colt didn't make any special order TSMG's, or engrave them, for any customer, either during the 1921-22 period of manufacture, or leading up to WWII. Since Colt didn't want anything to do with the TSMG after the Roaring Twenties, it seems antithetical for them to have one of their currently employed engravers make a presentation gun for Russell Maguire to offer Uncle Joe. Does Wilson state if this TSMG was a Colt 1921/28, 1928 Savage/AO or M1/M1A1?
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#3 TD.

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 10:31 PM

Arthur,
I too have heard what you are reporting and never thought much about it one way or the other until I read in detail the first page of the Auto Ordnance Corporation Weekly Shipping Chart for the week ending April 9, 1921. This chart is shown on Page 43 of Tracie Hill’s book, Thompson: the American Legend. Colt Thompson NO 49 is listed as a “Special Engraved Gun” and referred to in the footnotes as the “Brazilian Gun.” Given the low serial number and the early shipping date, I would think this gun would have been engraved by a Colt engraver. I think I have read about another Colt engraved Thompson somewhere but I can put my finger on it at the moment. It would be interesting to review all the existing shipping records for Auto Ordnance but I have never seen any of the other charts published. It seems plausible if Auto Ordnance had a Colt Thompson engraved for someone in Brazil, they could have had another engraved for someone in Mexico.

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#4 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 12:11 AM

TD,
John H. Barret worked for Auto Ordnance, not Colt. Any notes in his sales book were about what was to be shipped with an existing TSMG, or what after production "customizations" were needed to be done by Auto-Ord before shipping out a "completed" Colt production run TSMG to a customer. It is taking a lot for granted to conclude a Colt engraver did the work instead of some Auto-Ord contract artisan.

Colt, being a separate entity form Auto-Ord, would not be involved in an Auto-Ord customer's additional "customization" work. That was between Auto-Ord and their clientèle. None of Colt's engravers, who were contracted to work solely on Colt guns, has ever acknowledged engraving a Colt TSMG for an Auto-Ord customer. The initial agreed upon contract between Auto-Ord and Colt specifically makes no mention of Colt providing any after production services to Auto-Ord.

Even Curtis Earl tried to make that dog hunt with his "Midas" TSMG. After some pointed observations by collectors at the time, he quickly decided that it would be prudent to make clear that Earl C Bieu was a "retired" Colt engraver who did his work on the gun fifty years after Colt manufactured the 15,000 TSMG's.

Just as an obiter dictum, JHB also manged to let about 15% of the completed Colt TSMG's slip through his "meticulous" inspections since they never received his "JHB" stamp. That's a significant number out of only 15,000 weapons produced over a 16 month period. If Auto-Ord wouldn't even allow a Colt employee to inspect the completed weapons, why would they then turn the gun back to Colt, after JHB's Okey Dokey, to have them do the engraving?

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#5 AZDoug

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 01:17 AM

QUOTE (Arthur Fliegenheimer @ Nov 18 2004, 10:11 PM)

Just as an obiter dictum, JHB also manged to let about 15% of the completed Colt TSMG's slip through his "meticulous" inspections since they never received his "JHB" stamp. That's a significant number out of only 15,000 weapons produced over a 16 month period. If Auto-Ord wouldn't even allow a Colt employee to inspect the completed weapons, why would they then turn the gun back to Colt, after JHB's Okey Dokey, to have them do the engraving?

What is the story here about the missing approval stamps? I am sure it was covered in a TCN article, but I don't have time to follow everything.

maybe those 2000 w/o JHB stamps guns were really Numrich knockoffs. laugh.gif

Doug
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#6 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 02:37 PM

Phil,
Without an actual photo of this supposed Colt engraved Stalin presentation TSMG, this is all conjecture. But in all probability the Thompson that Stalin got, if this was a wartime gift, was an Auto-Ordnance Savage/AO 1928, or M1/M1A1. Colt is not going to have one of its employees do the engraving on a weapon that isn't even of their own manufacture. Just because Stalin slipped his spies into the Manhattan Project, doesn't mean that he actually demanded a "Colt Engraver" be assigned to do the work on his TSMG. Uncle Joe wanted a lot of things from FDR, including a second front as early as the summer of 1943. He just had to wait his turn in the order of all other priorities.

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#7 knobcreeknut

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 09:04 PM

guess I didn't make it clear in the original post. the tommy in question for stalin was stated to be an auto ord. the manufacturer of the one for Alvaro Obregon of mexico is not stated. pg 249 of steel canvas

among special assignments by Wilbur for colt were a thompson submachine gun for alvaro obregon of mexico ... and an auto ordnance thompson submachine gun for presentation to Joseph Stalin ( the author has seen this gun, with silver presentation plaque, in a moscow museum)."


although it does not state when this work was performed, it does state that Wilbur Glahn worked at the colt factory from 1919-1923, and continued to do most of colts engraving through the spring of 1950

Edited by knobcreeknut, 19 November 2004 - 09:05 PM.

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#8 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 09:29 PM

Since all TSMG's have Auto Ordnance stamped on them, that doesn't narrow it down as to which TSMG (i.e. Colt, Savage, AO) Stalin had engraved. But since Glahn was no longer a full time Colt contract employee after 1923, the work he did on Stalin's "AO" TSMG and Obregon's Colt TSMG was not a Colt factory issued example. Whatever freelance work engravers did on their own does not invalidate the opinion by researchers that the Colt Factory did not produce any engraved Thompson's on the 15,000 examples before being turned over to the Auto-Ordnance Corporation.
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#9 TD.

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 01:17 AM

Arthur,
You use the term “researchers.” Would you be so kind as to state who these researchers are and quote exactly their published “opinions” about how the Colt factory did not produce any engraved Thompson's. I have Roger’s opinion, but please cite it so those who do not have his book can follow along with us. Thanks,

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#10 TD.

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 11:11 AM

Arthur,
Help me understand this:

1. In the book STEEL CANVAS: THE ART OF AMERICAN ARMS, author R. L. Wilson states Mr. Wilbur Glahn worked at the Colt factory as an engraver from 1919 to 1923.
2. The last Colt manufactured Thompson (Serial NO 15040) was transferred by Colt to Auto-Ordnance on July 25-26, 1922.
3. Wilbur Glahn engraved for Colt a Thompson Submachine Gun for Mr. Alvaro Obregon of Mexico.

Could you explain why Mr. Glahn could not have engraved a Thompson for Mr. Obregon while working at the Colt factory?

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#11 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 01:05 PM

It is possible that Obregon was presented with this Colt TSMG between 1921 and 1923, when he was President, and when Glahn was a contract Colt engraver. However, the likelihood of Obregon's acceptance of this gaudy product, a symbol of the ostentatious weaponry his corrupt and treacherous generals would brandish, during his tenure of office is suspect. It seems more likely that Obregon received this presento after December of 1924. I can't prove this scenario anymore than a non-existing order form proves the contrary.

The sales records for the first 1000 Colt TSMG's is pretty detailed. If the President of Mexico had on order a TSMG with special engraving to be done by Colt in 1921,22, or even 23, this "stand out" sale would not have escaped the documenters and researchers of Colt TSMG's for 80+ years.

If the lowly Consul General to Panama, Belisario Poras Jr's Colt TSMG is a matter of record, surely a record of El Presidente's plain Jane Colt TSMG would exist, much less this factory engraved example.

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#12 full auto 45

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 03:05 PM

I think you should ask Gordon Herigstad. He should know. He IS the Colt aficionado out there.
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#13 TD.

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 04:52 PM

Arthur,
I agree. The dates of Mr. Glahn’s tenure at the Colt factory make this scenario possible. Of course, it would be nice to find this engraved Thompson. An examination could possibly resolve this issue. This new information (at least new to me) is why I now would question the "opinions" of the Thompson "researchers" you were referring too earlier.
However, let me take this a step further:

If Mr. Glahn continued doing engraving for Colt after 1923, but not at the factory site, why would his engraving not be considered Colt factory engraving? If Mr. Glahn is associated with Colt by some type of employment agreement and Colt is directing his actions - and paying him for his engraving, what difference does it make where he is sitting when the actual engraving takes place? Engravers have never been your typical 8 to 4 factory worker. How can engraving initiated at the direction of Colt’s Patent Firearms MFG. CO of Hartford, Conn., U.S.A. not be considered Colt engraving?

I also agree the records of the first 1000 Colt Thompsons is pretty detailed. Hence, my earlier remarks on the Brazilian Engraved Thompson that left the factory during the first week of sales. As per Gordon, at least 80 Colt Thompsons were exported to Mexico; only 8 of the known 80 guns are serial numbered below 1000.

I wonder if Mr. Glahn had anything to do with the documented Brazilian Engraved Thompson?

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