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collector conundrum

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unclejed613

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after amateur radio, my other favorite hobby is firearms, more specifically obsolete and antique military rifles. about 10 years ago i picked up a 1894 Brazilian Mauser rifle. i didn't even need to do any paperwork on it, because it's on the list of antique rifles (any firearm manufactured before 1899). recently i find myself in a bit of a financial bind, so i've sold a few pieces from my collection. most of the pieces i sold have plenty of information available about them, i was able to determine a good price for them. but, this one rifle has me stumped (and it stumped several Mauser experts at the collectible firearms show here in Denver a few days ago).
20180520_173948.jpg

what it says is " ESTADOS UNIDOS DO BRAZIL MANUFACTURA LOEWE BERLIM 1894".
the spelling "BERLIM" is how BERLIN is spelled in portugese.

so i've been trying to get any information about this rifle i can find on the internet.
to begin with, the rifle is complete with no missing parts. that is a plus, because most of them that were sold in the US had small parts missing. second, it has not been sporterized, so it has all of the original wood. the metal on the rifle has been painted black, but for a country in the equatorial zone, this is not uncommon. the parts that normally have the serial number on them all seem to match, but i can't tell about the bolt because the wear on the bolt handle has made them disappear. the bore isn't perfect, but it is shiny, so there's surprisingly little corrosion for a 113 year old rifle that was made at a time when all ammunition was corrosive. the stock is in pretty rough shape with numerous dents and dings. there's a 1/4 inch chip missing at the butt plate, which is caused by a lot of close order drill (when the command "order arms" is given, some countries have a tradition that the soldiers whack the butt plate on the ground so it can be heard).

this much i was able to find out on the web:
the rifles were made under contract with Mauser within a 4 month period in 1894. 10,000 of them were made by Fabrique Nacional in Belgium, the rest were made by Ludwig Loewe in Berlin (quantity unknown... this is the most elusive part of the puzzle, and the most important). 90% of the hits i get when doing a search are for the model 1908 Brazilian contract rifles, and the 1894 hits i get have small bits of info that are somewhat useful. one fact that has come up often in the few bits of info i got, is that the workmanship on all Ludwig Loewe rifles is considered to be the best of any manufacturer at the time. i have done price searches for when this model had been sold in the past, but the most recent price i have been able to find for a complete rifle was about $300, and that was 10 years ago.

the prices of all firearms has skyrocketed in the US since then, because every time politicians start whining that they want more gun control laws, there's a feeding frenzy at the gun stores, and the prices go up as a result. i have a rifle i bought 15 years ago for about $400, today it's worth $1800.

in 1908 Brazil contracted for 400,000 '08 model mausers. the 1908 model rifles are plentiful, and there's a lot of information about them, but because there are so many of them, their prices are low (about $250 USD). another price premium (other than scarcity) that affects this rifle's (the 1894 model) price is it's antique status. there is no paperwork or background check necessary to buy or sell the rifle, as technically it's not a "firearm" in the legal sense.

while i was at the collectible firearm show, i had one guy that was selling several other models of Mausers from central and south america take a look at it, and said i should ask $850, and not take less than $650 for it. his reasoning for this, is it hasn't been butchered by the ubiquitous "Bubba" (who "sporterizes everything by cutting down the stock. drilling holes in the receiver to add a scope mount, and strip the original finish so it can be parkerized. other "mauser experts" complained that the rifle had been painted, and didn't seem to understand that this particular production run was rather small. ok, so they were experts on later mauser models, mostly the WWII vintage mausers, and knew little or nothing about any pre-WWI rifles.

so, what i'm looking for primarily, is how many rifles did Loewe's make for that 1894 contract? if it's 10,000, then the price would be the same as a FN made rifle from the same contract. if it's more than 10,000, then the price is lower, but not by much, since the whole contract took less than 4 months to fill. at the same time, there was a contract for over 100,000 rifles with Spain, and it took a couple of years for Mauser to fill that contract.

i couldn't have picked a worse firearm to get historical information on. this one is proving to be very elusive.
 

atferrari

Well-Known Member
Not even sure this could help you in some way. When at the Naval Academy our primary, basic training , was with old Mausers which were considered real antiques.

They were, AFAIK, contemporary to their counterpart in the Army. Later we had training going on with Garands. It is there where my familiarity with rifles of any kind, ends.
Given we share borders with Brazil and, for what I know, a common influence from German Army, it well could be that our Mausers had a common origin.
 

unclejed613

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there are a lot of argentine mausers in the market, and there's a lot more information available on them too.... especially the 1891 model, which were also made by Loewe's. a very fine rifle. https://www.shootingillustrated.com/articles/2017/4/18/the-1891-argentine-mauser-a-history/

i've even been trying to find out if there's general production numbers from that period for the Loewe factory, just to make a guess at how many brazilian rifles they might have made.
another little bit of information i found was that the serial numbers were in 10,000 groups, so the "E" series went from E0000 to E9999. and that the letters repeated yearly(so you could have an 1894 with serno E1234, and an 1895 model with E1234), but that still doesn't tell me how many were made on that contract. also considering that between WWI and WWII, and the Cold War a lot of documentation could have got lost or destroyed, makes it really hard to get much solid information. still, a surprising amount of documentation does seem to exist, but for this particular production run, the data is very sparse.
 
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