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The 7.65mm Melior and Jieffeco Pistols

Model 1907

As we mentioned above, the production of 7.65mm Melior pistols began just before the 1910 international exhibition in Brussels.

Pistols of the 1907 model in 7.65mm were manufactured in a quantity of approximately 2000 pieces which are located in the range between 20,000 and 22000. For both Model 1907 and Model 1911 pistols in this caliber, serial numbers were allocated in the range from 20,000 to 30,000.

The earliest observed Model 1907 7.65mm pistol has the serial number 20009, and the highest is 21803.

Model 1907 Jieffeco 7.65mm - SN 20009

Jieffeco Model 1907 pistols in 7.65mm with serial numbers 20009, 20164, 20316, 20325, 20844, 21021 have stamps in French on the left side of the recoil spring housing: "Pistolet Automatique Jieffeco Depose."


The Jieffeco pistol with serial number 20012, intended for export to the English market, has a stamp in English on the left side of the recoil spring housing : "AUTOMATIC PISTOL JIEFFECO DEPOSE" and an additional export marking "BELGIUM" on the left side of the breech block.

Export-mark

Export Marking on a Model 1907


On some Model 1907 Melior 7.65mm pistols (such as serial numbers 20322 and 21803) the name of the pistol is located on the left side of the breech block instead of on the recoil spring housing.

Melior-SN21803-L-det

Melior Model 1907 Pistol - SN 21803


Model 1911

Production of model 1911 pistols in both 7.65mm and 6.35mm began at the same time and the pistols were presented at the Charleroi Exposition of 1911.

Model 1911 pistols in both calibers can be divided into two variations. The first variation of the Model 1911 has a magazine release button at the bottom of the left grip, just like the Model 1907. This first Model 1911 variation can be referred to as a transitional model. The second variation has a magazine release lever at the base of the grip, and is pressed inward from behind to release the magazine (similar to that of the 1899/1900 FN Browning pistol).

The first variation of the Model 1911 was made in small quantities in both calibers and is quite scarce in our time. Presumably, only about 500 pieces were made in 7.65mm. Production of this model began in the range between serial number 21803 of the Model 1907 and serial number 22269 of the Model 1911.

At the moment, we have documented only two Model 1911 first variation pistols in 7.65mm: serial numbers 22269 and 22287. Both of these pistols were manufactured under the Melior trademark.

Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm First Variation - SN 22269

Melior Model 1911 Pistol - SN 22269


Production of the second variation began in the interval between serial numbers 21803 and 22269. Please write to us if you have a pistol in this serial number range.*

All Model 1911 second variation pistols were produced under the brands Melior or Jieffeco, with various export markings. The oval Henry Rosier stamp with a crown above the initials HR, which was located on the left side of the trigger guard on first variation pistols, was moved to the left side of the breech block on the second variation.

Crown-S

Crown over HR Stamp


And in the interval between serial numbers 24430 and 25482, the crown above the initials HR was replaced with a star. The reason for replacing the crown with a star is likely associated with the move of Henry Rosier to America and therefore can be dated to the beginning of the 1914 war.

Star-S1

Star over HR Stamp


The first Model 1911 Jieffeco pistols are marked with the H. Rosier stamp with a crown up to serial number 22673 and, including serial numbers 23438 and 24263, are marked in French: “PISTOLET AUTOMATIQUE JIEFFECO DEPOSE.”

M1911-Jieffeco-L-M

Jieffeco Model 1911 Pistol


The next batch of Jieffeco pistols are marked with the H.Rosier stamp with a Crown, and were intended for the English market. These include serial numbers : 22774, 22785, 22895, 22903, 22918, 22922. These guns were marked in English, “AUTOMATIC PISTOL JIEFFECO DEPOSE,” and had an additional export marking "BELGIUM" on the frame.

Model 1911 Jieffeco 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 22895

Jieffeco Model 1911 Pistol w/ export marking - SN 22895


Second variation Melior 7.65mm pistols with serial numbers 22830, 23340 and 24430, which are marked with the H.Rosier stamp with a crown, do not have export markings.

Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 23340

Melior Model 1911 Pistol w/out export marking - SN 23340


Second variation Model 1911 pistols in 7.65mm, which are marked with the Henry Rosier stamp with a Star appear in the range of serial numbers from 24430 to 25482. In addition, almost all pistols that have the HR stamp with a Star were marked with a small stamp with the letters RKL in the form of a triangle on the right side of the trigger guard.

RKL-stamp-S

Melior Model 1911 with RKL Stamp on Bow of Triggerguard


Poster for the Ghent International Exhbition of 1913

Poster for the International Exhibition at Ghent - 1913

The appearance of this stamp with the letters RKL can be associated with preparation for production of the Melior Model 1914 pistols patented by Louis Robar in 1913 and 1914. The first patent for this model (which will be the subject of a future article) was obtained by Louis Robar during the International Exhibition of 1913 in the city of Ghent (Dutch “Gent,” French “Gand”). The first variation of the Model 1914 pistol was also marked with the RKL stamp on the right side of the trigger guard.

Prototypes for the Model 1914 Melior pistols may well have been displayed together with the Model 1911 Melior pistols in both calibers (as RKL guns are listed twice in the catalog) at the 1913 Exhibition in Ghent where Robar & de Kerckhove received the Diplôme D'honneur.
Postcard for the Ghent International Exhbition of 1913

Postcard - Ghent Exhibition - 1913

During this period, Robar & de Kerckhove expected to sell a large number of pistols with the trademark Melior for export. 7.65mm Melior pistols with serial numbers 25482, 25542, 26398, 26402, 26421 , 26425, 26431, and 26436, which are marked with the HR stamp with a star and the RKL stamp on the right side of the trigger guard, are also marked with the caliber on the frame and have the export marking "BELGIUM" on the left side of the breech block.


Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 25542
Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 25542

Melior Model 1911 w/RKL Stamp and Export Markings - SN 25542


Second variation Melior 7.65mm pistols with serial numbers 25690, 26108, 26663, 27301, which are marked with the HR stamp with a star and the RKL stamp on the right side of the trigger guard, do not have export markings.

Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 26108 Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 26108

Melior Model 1911 w/ HR Stamp with Star, RKL Stamp and No Export Markings - SN 26108


The second variant 7.65mm Jieffeco pistols we have observed with serial numbers 25664, 25827 and 26271, which are marked with the HR stamp with a star and the RKL stamp on the right side of the trigger guard, have the slide inscription in French: “AUTOMATIC PISTOL JIEFFECO DEPOSE.”

Model 1911 Jieffeco 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 26271
Model 1911 Jieffeco 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 26271

Jieffeco Model 1911 w/ HR Stamp with Star, RKL Stamp and Inscription in French - SN 26271


Special attention should be paid to Melior pistols with serial numbers 27196, 27301 and 27306. These pistols were manufactured in the difficult post-war period in 1919. Robar & de Kerckhove did not make grip plates, and the company that produced the grip plates for their guns likely went out of business during the war, so when the existing stock of grip plates for Melior pistols ran out the company was forced to use grip plates similar to those of their distributor Janssen Fils & Co., but without the JF&Co. monogram. Robar & de Kerckhove also had additional unmarked grips made from horn and wood.

Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 27103

Melior Model 1911 - SN 27103

Model 1911 Melior 7.65mm Second Variation - SN 27196

Melior Model 1911 - SN 27196


During this period similar grips were also installed on Melior Model 1914 pistols.


Part 3: The Model 1911 in 6.35mm


* Write to edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com.


References

  • Brandt, Jakob H. “Magazine der Selbstladepistolen Jieffeco und Melior”. Deutsche Waffen Journal, June 1995.
  • Daubresse, Alain.  Les armuriers Liègeois a travers leurs réalisations.  Alain Daubresse: 2014.
  • Daubresse, Alain.  littlegun.be
  • Gadisseur, Guy and Druart, Michel. Le Qui est Qui: de l’Armurierie liégeoise, 1800-1950, Tome 1, Editions du Pecari: 2005.
  • Hogg, Ian and Walter, John. Pistols of the World, 4th Edition. Krause Publications, Iola, WI: 2004.
  • Hogg, Ian V. and Weeks, John. Pistols of the World. Arms & Armour Press, London: 1978.
  • Matthews, J. Howard, Firearms Identification.  Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois: 1962.
  • Olson, John, Editor. Famous Automatic Pistols and Revolvers, Volume 2. Jolex.
  • Schroeder, Joseph J. Jr., Editor.  Arms of the World 1911: The Fabulous ALFA Catalogue of Arms and the Outdoors. Follett Publishing Company, Chicago: 1972.

Early Melior, Jieffeco, and Phoenix Serial Numbers
Rebirth of the Phoenix

Thanks to Stefan Klein for research assistance and photographs.
Thanks to Michel Druart for providing us with Henri Rosier’s patents.
Thanks also to Guido Grenny, Marco Benecci, Ashley Jason Smith, “Pisto” from the luger.gunboards
forum, Janne Salopuro at
www.fusil.fi, and the online store at www.puskarstvinovotny.cz.
 

Copyright 2020 by Vaclav Vriesen and Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.

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