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An Experimental 7.65mm Walther Pistol

by Ed Buffaloe

Venus-Pistole photo by Robert Hogan

.32 Caliber Walther Experimental Pistol
From the Robert Hogan collection.

The pistol shown here, from the Robert Hogan collection, was made in the same era as the Walther Model 1, as it is of nearly identical design.  I have never seen another pistol like this one.

I had read about an early experimental Walther .32 somewhere, but when I went to look for the reference, I had difficulty finding it.  First I looked in Dieter Marschall’s Walther Pistols, Models 1 - P99, then I looked in Manfred Kersten’s Walther:  The German Legend, and finally I looked in Ian Hogg’s German Handguns, but none of these even mention an early .32.  It turned out to be Gene Gangarosa, Jr.’s The Walther Handgun Story, where he says:  “In 1908, experimentation was under way on two prototype Walther pistols.  The first, called the Venus-Pistole, was a medium-frame .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning) caliber pistol, similar to both the FN Model 1900 and the Dreyse Model 1907.  Walther’s Venus-Pistole never went beyond the prototype stage; but the other early experimental pistol.. .eventually became the Model 1.”  Elsewhere Gangarosa explains that the early Walther manufacturing facility was called the Venuswaffenwerke, or literally “Venus Weapon Works,” hence the name “Venus Pistol.”

Venuswaffenwerk Oscar Will Advertisement

Original Venus Pistole
Illustration from H.B. Pollard.

In his book Secret Firearms: An Illustrated History of Miniature and Concealed Handguns, John D. Walter provides the following information about an early pistol made by “Carl Walther, his eldest son Fritz and cousin Friedrich Pickert”:  “A few 6.35mm-calibre ‘Venus-Pistolen’, also called the ‘Original-Venus-Pistole’ after the slide marking, were made in 1907-8, together with a handful of 7.65mm examples and, perhaps, a 9mm prototype or two.”  He goes on to describe the gun, following an illustration in J.B. Pollard’s 1921 book Automatic Pistols.  The gun illustrated in Pollard’s book appears to have a CW monogram on the grips, but the illustration is very small.  I have never seen a gun like this, nor have I ever seen one illustrated in any book other than Pollard’s.  Walther states:  “The pistol had a distinct affinity with the popular Model 1900 FN-Browning, with the recoil spring in a separate chamber above the barrel.”  This tallies with Gangarosa’s statement that the gun is similar to the 1900 Browning and the 1907 Dreyse.  The Venus-Pistol has a rotating manual safety lever like the Dreyse rather than the crossbolt safety seen in the Model 1 and in the experimental pistol illustrated above.  Pollard himself says only: “The Venus.  A German pistol, 6.35 mm., seven shots.  Reputed designed for accuracy, and also made in .32 and .380 auto sizes.”
Venuswaffenwerk Oscar Will Advertisement

Early Walther Advertisement
Courtesy of Wolfgang Seel.

A German collector, Wolfgang Seel, tells me that the Venus- waffenwerke was closely linked to the Walther family, because Oscar Will’s mother, Charlotte Will, had the maiden name of Walther.  Herr Seel maintains that Oscar Will’s Venuswaffenwerke was in fact the manufacturer of the early Walther Model 1 pistols, and he provides a very early advertisement for the Walther Model 1, taken from the German journal Fachblatt: Sprengstoffe, Waffen, Munition 6 (1910/1911), No. 11, p. 127 and 129, which was published on 15 March 1911, and which clearly shows the gun made in Germany by the Venuswaffenwerk of Oscar Will.

The Hogan Collection experimental pistol will inevitably be thought of by modern collectors as a .32 caliber Model 1.  Both guns have a slide lock latch on the front of the trigger guard, an external connector bar on the left side that runs under the left grip, open-top slide, top-mounted external extractor, and a cross-bolt safety at the rear.  Like the early version of the Model 1, there is no takedown button on the right side of the experimental pistol, as is found on the later version of the Model 1.  Both guns have similar slide inscriptions, differing only in the caliber marking.  The experimental pistol  is marked on two lines in all capital serif letters:

WALTHER’S SELBSTLADE-PISTOLE CAL 7,65
 
D.R.P. & AUSLANDPATENTE

In this writer’s opinion, both the Hogan Collection experimental pistol and the Walther Model 1 bear a closer relationship to the 1900 Mannlicher pistol than to the 1900 FN Browning or the 1907 Dreyse referred to by Gangarosa.  The Walther pistols, like the Mannlicher, have a fixed barrel with an open-top slide, top-mounted extractor, and the recoil spring located beneath the barrel, whereas the Browning and Dreyse both have side-mounted extractors; the Dreyse recoil spring surrounds the barrel, while the Browning’s is mounted above the barrel, and neither gun has a true slide.

I am currently waiting for further photographs of the experimental Walther, but the lockwork of the Venus-Pistole will probably be similar if not identical to that of the Walther Model 1.  There is no externally visible serial number on this gun, and I don’t know if it has an internal number or numbers.

Walther-Mauser-Logos

Left:
Walther Logo
from
Experimental Pistol

Right:
Mauser Logo
from
C96 Mauser

On the right side of the slide is a crown over N proof mark, which means that the gun was proved after the early months of 1912.  The earliest Model 1 pistols I have examined have the ‘crown over crown’ over U, indicating they were proved before the early months of 1912, before the proof mark was changed.  If the experimental pistol is genuine, I would infer that the Model 1 was made first, and that Walther produced the experimental .32 pistol based on the design of the earlier gun.

Also on the right side is a Walther logo that looks a great deal like the Mauser logo--in a round-cornered rectangle with the word “Walther” across it, squeezed smaller in the middle.  I have never seen a Walther logo like this anywhere else.

I will publish more information about this gun when I can.  Meanwhile, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has a similar experimental Walther, or any further information about the Venus-Pistol.

References

  • GANGAROSA, Gene, Jr., The Walther Handgun Story, Stoeger Publishing, Wayne, N.J.: 1999.
  • POLLARD, Hugh B., Automatic Pistols, W E, Old Greenwich, Connecticut.  Reprint of 1921 edition.
  • WALTER, John D., Secret Firearms, Arms & Armour Press, London:  1997.
     

Copyright 2013 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.
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