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A Timeline for the Nicolas Pieper Pistols
Based on Patents, Advertisements, and Other Documents

 

Click to enlarge - Belgian Patent 178535

1904 - Jean Warnant’s original Belgian patent No. 178535. Five additional patents were filed as addendums to this patent between 1905 and 1907.

Click to enlarge - British patent 1905=9379 Click to enlarge - British patent 1905=9379

1905 - British patent 9379 of 1905 shows several different basculant or ‘tilting’ designs, the primary one of which shows the barrel tilting down, but ancilliary drawings also show the barrel tilting up or the breech housing tilting up and back.

Jean Warnant was granted a number of patents in 1904 and 1905:

  • Belgium: 178535, filed 12 July 1904.
  • Belgium: 183287, filed 11 March 1905.
  • Belgium: 185321, filed 10 June 1905.
  • Belgium: 186744, filed 4 September 1905.
  • France: 355490, filed 23 June 1905, granted 3 November 1905.
  • Great Britain: 1905-9379, filed 4 May 1905, granted 14 December 1905.
  • United States: 889279, filed 20 May 1905, granted 2 June 1908.

By the time his U.S. patent was actually granted he had already sold his patent rights to Nicolas Pieper.

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1905 - 30 October - Jean Warnant transfers all rights for his Belgian patents for his basculant “automatic tilting pistol”, numbers 173535, 183287, 185321, & 186744 to Nicolas Pieper.

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1905 - December 1905 - Nicolas Pieper files Belgian Patent 189160 for a demontant or ‘dismountable’ pistol with a removable barrel and breech block assembly secured with a screw.

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1906 - May - Nicolas Pieper files Belgian patent 192307 for a magazine release mechanism that works by pressing downward on the release lever.  The magazine baseplate extends to the rear.

Nicolas Pieper bought Jean Warnant’s patents for a basculant or tilting barrel design on 30 October 1905 and almost immediately began working on a demontant or dismounting pistol design based upon it. Pieper’s goal appeared to be to get a gun on the market as quickly as possible, and we find his first pistol being advertised by late 1906, though the 7.65mm versions may have been available for sale earlier.

Waffenschmied-1906-10-Dec

1906 - Der Waffenschmied for 10 December 1906 has the earliest advertisement we have been able to locate for a Nicolas Pieper pistol. This is the demontant or ‘dismounting’ pistol. The ad shows the Model C (vestpocket model) in 6.35mm (.25 ACP), the cartridge for which had only been introduced in June of 1906. The ad touts the guns as ‘Unrivaled in weight, handiness and flat, elegant shape.’

In 1906, Pieper already offers three different types of his pistol.

  • Model A “Police- and Military Model”: eight round, 7.65mm Browning, 525g.
  • Model B “Pocket Format”, seven round, 7.65mm Browning, 475g.
  • Model C “Small Model, Vestpocket Format”, seven round, 6.35mm Browning, 300g.

The Browning 6.35mm cartridge had only just been released along with the Browning vest pocket pistol in July of 1906, but because Fabrique Nationale was a consortium of manufacturers, it is likely that most of the better-connected gun manufacturers in Liège knew about the new small cartridge well in advance.

On 28 December 1907 Pieper files a patent for a demontant pistol in Austria, and patent number 34380 was granted on 15 March 1908.

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1908 - January - N. Pieper’s Belgian Patent No. 205743 covers a basculant tilting barrel design with a hook in the back of the recoil spring guide rod that attaches to the breech block.

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1908 - May - N. Pieper’s Belgian Patent No. 208184 covers the lockwork mechanism for the same gun. This is the design that was sold to Steyr, though Steyr produced it with a more acute grip angle.

Pieper filed a number of patents in 1908 and 1909, including:

  • Austria: 39167, filed 21 December 1908, effective 15 May 1909.
  • Austria: 43652, filed 26 August 1909, effective 1 April 1910.
  • Great Britain: 1908-16715, filed 8 August 1908, granted 4 March 1909.
  • Great Britain: 1908-17629, filed 22 August 1908, granted 14 January 1909.
  • Great Britain: 1909-19588, filed 26 August 1909, granted 25 November 1909.
  • Great Britain: 1909-19589, filed 26 August 1909, granted 12 May 1910.
  • Spain: 44264, filed 31 October 1908, granted 1 December 1908.
  • Spain: 44306, filed 6 November 1908, granted 16 December 1908.
  • Spain: 45695, filed 12 June 1909, granted 1 August 1909.
  • Spain: 46213, filed 26 August 1909, granted 1 November 1909.
  • Spain: 46219, filed 26 August 1909, granted 1 November 1909.
  • France: 393045, filed 8 August 1908, granted 11 December 1908.
  • France: 406481, filed 26 August 1909, granted 31 January 1910.
  • France: 406482, filed 26 August 1909, granted 31 January 1910.
  • United States: 911265, filed 6 January 1908, granted 2 February 1909.
  • United States: 927070, filed 23 November 1908, granted 6 July 1909.

By 1908 Pieper was perfecting the tilting barrel design he had purchased from Jean Warnant. Advertising began soon after the first patent was granted.

Waffenschmied-1908-10-Apr

1908 - Der Waffenschmied for 10 April 1908 shows a basculant design on the left and refers to the gun as the “Model 1908 with tipping barrel,” though the illustration on the right shows a demontant design.

In 1908, Waffenschmied reports, that Pieper had sold the rights to produce a pistol – based on the Pieper system – to the Austrian Steyr company, which led to the Steyr 1909 pistol.

Waffenschmied-1909-25-Jun

1909 - Der Waffenschmied for 25 June 1909 shows a Model D demontant pistol. “Innovation! Can be dismantled by hand without tools.”

In 1909, Pieper introduces his new demontant Model D, a six-shot 6.35mm Browning vestpocket pistol, weighing 300g, also said to be available as a six-shot in 7.65mm Browning. “Neuheit!” translates as “novelty” but equates with “brand new!” Pieper’s Model D has the same acute grip angle as the Steyr Pieper but does not have the tilting barrel.

Journal-des-Chasseurs-No12-June-1909

1909 - A supplemental insert in the Journal Des Chasseurs for 12 June 1909 states that Fabrique d’Armes Automatiques Nicolas Pieper specializes in the manufacture of automatic pistols; the N. Pieper system is patented in all countries. The upper illustration “shows an automatic pistol, 6 shots, N. PIEPER system, with tilting barrel, caliber 6.35. It can be supplied bronzed, blued, Nickel-plated, engraved, with golden parts and with rubber, walnut, celluloid, ivory or mother-of-pearl grips. Also in Leather Sheath Case.” The lower illustration “represents an automatic pistol,N. PIEPER system, [barrel] removable by hand without tools,” also available with the same features described for the previous pistol.

Pieper filed two patents in 1910:

  • Spain: 47826, filed 18 April 1910, granted 16 May 1910.
  • France: 414900, filed 18 April 1910, granted 13 September 1910.
Waffenschmied-1910-25-Apr

1910 - Der Waffenschmied for 25 April 1910 hints at the relationship between the Anciens Etablissements Pieper and the Nicolas Pieper company when it says “In order to protect buyers of original Pieper weapons from disappointment, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that the carbines and pistols from our factories all carry our legally protected brand, the "Bayard" knight. Our double shotguns, with the exception of the "Diana" class, also have the "Bayard" trademark.” This clearly implies that if you buy the Nicolas Pieper brand you may be disappointed.

The above advertisement may have been in response to a similar statement by Nicolas Pieper; or, conversely, Nicolas Pieper’s statement may have been in response to this ad. He said: "I would like to point out that my weapons should not be confused with those of the Anciens Etablissements Pieper which do not bear the NP trademark, which should always be required as a guarantee for my products."

Waffenschmied-1910-25-Mar

1910 - Der Waffenschmied for 25 March 1910 shows a semiautomatic .22 caliber rifle and a Model D demontant pistol, which it says is available in both 7.65mm and 6.35mm. This is likely the rifle that Nicolas designed in 1900 when he was still director of the Anciens Etablissements Pieper and which we presume he still retained the rights to.

Despite having stated that the company specializes in automatic pistols, Pieper began selling a semiautomatic .22 rifle in 1910.

Waffenschmied-1912-10-Mar

1912 - Der Waffenschmied for 10 March 1912 represents the first appearance of two new guns--the Model AD and the Model BD, both of which were in 7.65mm, but the BD is unfortunately incorrectly shown as the Model D in 6.35mm. This was likely a mistake by the person who laid out the ad and was relying on copy from earlier advertisements.


Pester-Lloyd-July-1912

1908 - July - Nicolas Pieper ran a notice in the Pester Lloyd German-language newspaper of Budapest, Hungary offering to sell his Hungarian patents. These two patents are identical to the patents he had already sold to Steyr.

The notice reads:

The Hungarian Patent No. 43335 of Nikolaus Pieper in Liege „Self-loading pistol with unlocked breech“ and additional patent No. 48554 „Self loading pistol with unlocked breech“ are to be sold; also manufacturing licences can be granted. Further questions answers patent attorney Dr. Detlef Wirfmann and Robert Berezi in Budapest, VII. Quarter, Erzseberförnt No. 28.


Pieper continues to advertise the same two models, the D and BD with reserve magazine, throughout 1913. The same guns are also advertised in the 1913 Gecado (Georg Carl Dornheim) catalog. In August 1913 he advertises a double-barrel shotgun:

Waffenschmied-1913-27-Aug

1913 - Der Waffenschmied for 27 August 1913 shows a shotgun advertised as having a “genuine steel chamber.”

Pieper filed several patents in 1914, for a demontant design for an automatic pistol with release buttons on either side of the gun just above the bow of the trigger guard. We do not believe this design was ever manufactured. A single patent was filed in the Netherlands in 1916.

  • Austria: 81433, filed 16 July 1914, effective 15 August 1915.
  • Spain: 58456, filed 15 June 1914, granted 16 July 1914.
  • Spain: 58530, filed 24 June 1914, granted 1 August 1914.
  • France: 473121, filed 6 June 1914, granted 31 December 1914.
  • Netherlands: 3806, filed 23 February 1916, granted 1 January 1919.
US1427413A_Pat-Drwg

1919 - U.S. Patent 1427413 - Pieper did not file his patent for the demontant pistol with release buttons on either side until 1919, but this is the same patent he filed in most other countries in 1914.

Various patents were filed from 1919 to 1923, generally for minor improvements to automatic pistols, most of which were never implemented in any known pistol:

  • Austria: 95271, filed 5 February 1921, effective 10 December 1923.
  • Austria: 99465, filed 5 February 1921, effective 26 March 1925.
  • Spain: 77015, filed 5 February 1921, granted 16 April 1921.
  • France: 526759, filed 29 October 1920, granted 13 October 1921.
  • France: 560792, filed 8 January 1923, granted 10 October 1923.
  • Great Britain: 134777, filed 27 May 1919, granted 13 November 1919.
  • Great Britain: 152268, filed 6 March 1920, granted 14 October 1920.
  • Great Britain: 158886, filed 7 February 1921, granted 24 November 1921.
  • United States: 1427413, filed 8 July 1919, granted 29 August 1922.
Click to enlarge - Belgian Patent 285373

1920 - Hippolyte Thonon’s Belgian patent 285373 was purchased by Nicolas Pieper in 1920.

Click to enlarge - Legia Pistol Brochure
Click to enlarge - British Patent 158886

1921 - Pieper filed British patent 158886 on
7 February 1921, updating Thonon’s design.

After the war Pieper stopped advertising in the German publication Der Waffenschmied. We have located a few advertisements that we have been unable to date. Please write to us if you have a datable advertisement from 1919 or later.*

American-Legion-Weekly-30-Jun-1922-S

1922 - Advertisement for the Model 1920 from the American Legion Weekly for 30 June 1922.


Catalogue-Chasse-Peche-Renaud-Thonon-p19

Circa 1925 - from the catalog Chasse Peche Renaud, Thonon-les-Bains.


* Write to edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com.

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