The FN one millionth handgun and John Moses Browning
As you all know, JM Browning worked together with Fabrique National Herstal since 1897.
By 1899 the first pistols came into production in Belgium. Some small modifications were done and the model FN 1900 was an instant succes.
By august 1904 the first 100.000 were made. Soon 250.000 and 500.000* were reached. For all these milepoles a commemorative pistol was engraved. The are on display in the JMB museum in Oghden USA. Several pistols were simultanious in production. The model 1900, 1905/1906 and the 1910’s.
In 1912 FN achieved a total production of one million handguns. In order to celebrate this achievement, the FN plant organised a gigantic gala event.
They wanted to express there apreciation for Mr Browning and they wanted to do it “king size”
On January 31th 1914, the event was held at Herstal. 500 VIP’s were invited, ministers, ambassdors, clients and even the Belgian King who sended an deputé. A small problem arised since there was only on millionth handgun and there were several people wanting something…
In order to give the most important VIP’s, FN created several small 1905 pistols engraved with “un million”. John received one, his son got one, the King and a few others. A few months later world war one started. Dark days were coming and the original one millionth handgun disapeared from the scene in the fog of war…
This is a copy of the newpaper “la meuse” dated Feb 1st 1914. The full frontpage is about this galaevent… That was worldnews in those day’s!
This is the invitation, signed by JMBrowning.
How the one millionth handgun was saved from destruction…
On may 2006 a young man named “Hans Van Themsche” bought a Marlin leveraction in a gunshop in Antwerp (Belgium) and started a deadly rascistical raid in the streets.
The Belgian government paniced and created in a worldrecord time a new gunlaw.
On June 9th 2006, all guns were outlawed and became subject of a new gunpermitsystem. All previous gunpermits were no longer legal. The government made a “amnestyperiode” till october 31th 2008 in order to regularise everything. From that moment gunowners needed a legal reason to own a firearm.
Some 130.000 weapons were turned in and were destroyed. Some nice pieces were stolen by policeofficers…
It is due to this amnestyperiode i came in contact with the FN model 1900 serial 1.000.000.
On a rainy day a guy came in with a pistol. He asked i fit was legal for me to obtain handguns under the new system. Since i’m a licensed collector, no problem. So he shows me this engraved 1900 pistol in a sad condition. Some bells started to rang! Since there are only 730.000 Model 1900 were made, how can it have a serial 1.000.000? Was this a fake? Did he just engraved it an tried to catch more money?
Pictures were taken, and i started my research…
Soon i got in contact with A. Vanderlinden, the author of the great “FN Browning Pistols” book. I received pictures of the 100.000 250.000 and 500.000 pistols and suddenly, all pieces started to fall in there place. This is the actual one millionth handgun ever made by FN.
More research was done and a papertrail was found…
The papertrail part1
When i obtained the pistol, a copy of an old license model8 was accompanied. The license is an “immatriculatiebewijs”, means proof of registered and known by the police.
This license stated that a widow of a former notary (re)declared the gun in 1945.
Right after WW2, the Belgian gouvernment got scared by the communists and ordered that all civilians had to register there guns. Civilians got a model 8-permit after the gun was registered in a book at the policestation. So, the hunt for the book was on…
The gunpermit model 8 dated 27/07/1945
The papertrail part2
In 2011 i went to the policedepartment of “Brugges”. They got me in contact with an old policeofficer who still had the obsolete gunregister that was created after WW2. In this register, the pistol was registered on line 221 in the registerbook.
It is registered as “automatisch pistool, Merk Browning’s patent, kaliber7.65mm, serienummer 1.000.000’
This is the original policestation book i found in Brugges
As you see, the first trail starts in 1945…
It proofs that the copy i got of the model 8 is genuine. It also declares that the widow died and the son got a new license in 1985 in an other police-department. So, back on the road to find the son’s license…
The papertrail part3
I also have a copy of the 1985 license. This license states
It is typical that policeofficers don’t know the difference between a pistol and a revolver.
The son moved to an other city by then.
The 1985 permit, take a look at the mistake “revolver”. One day they will learn it…
Technical data of the pistol
The pistol has no other serials as the gold engraved 1.000.000.
The receiver has markings ‘Browning’s-Patent brevete SGDG.
Safetymarkings “Sur” and “Feu”
The Barrel has the regular proofstamps
Triggerguard has a small squared “r” stamp
The proofhouse stamps are all the same “AL”
All parts have the same wear. The barrel is pitted.
The pistolgrips have the figure 4 on both sides and have the pistol logo on the other side, including the lanyard cut. The grips are also pitted.
This hurts my eyes but the gun was kept hidden in two wars. If the Germans found your gun you got a one way ticket to a concentrationcamp or were shot on sight.
It’s a mistery to my why it has the old type handguards. They look to have had the same life conditions as the the pistol had…
Books and mags
The pistol got its place in the collectors world. It was added in the “FN Browning pistols” book page 22. I got the book very shortly before A Vanderlinden had his deadline to publish. So he called it “the mistery1.000.000 FN Browning model 1900 pistol”. At that timeframe not much research was completed. The second edition is released, i’ll have a copy shipped to me but i think more info will be in it. This book is really the best collectors book ever!!! Buy it…
The value is what a fool is willing to pay for it…
I received a serious offer to sell this milestone. However, ATF has an other vision about this historical handgun. It lacks the status to get imported to the US, not enough “points”…
So, is there a wizzard outside who knows a legal way in to the US? C&R, exception regulation?
His brother serial 500.000
The story goes on. Several years later i got my hands on a FN 1900 pistol serial 500.000.
That is bizar since there is a serial 500.000 on display in the JMB museum in Ogden…
Well, stay tuned and i tell you more about it soon...
Be proud to have the greatest inventor in the world! God was a Browning