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Eisenwerke Gaggenau Gem (boxed UK import)

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Eisenwerke Gaggenau Gem (boxed UK import) 

With thanks to Ollie.

He writes:

A Gem in a box

How were GEM air rifles named as such and in what way were they imported into the UK?

The gun in question is a Gaggenau Eisenwerke GEM smooth bore .22 air rifle. The word ‘patent’ and the crossed pistols of the Gaggenau trade mark are stamped onto the flat top of the barrel while the word GEM and a model number are lightly cut next to it in a completely different fonts suggesting that one was applied during manufacture, and the other later, perhaps upon importation. In addition to the number on top there is a further number, 129, deeply stamped on the end of the breech block in a style similar to the word ‘patent’. I think, as noted, that this number is the manufacturers serial number.

The box is 100cm by 13.5cm and 6cm deep externally and 98cm by 11.5 cm internally. It is made out of deal tacked and dovetailed together. There were originally three brass hinges and a simple clip lock on the front, and seemingly also two hooks and eyes.

The exterior was finished in a light thin lacquer.

The inside of the box was once lined with green baize or felt, a green stain on both the top and bottom of the interior and in addition strips of this material remain tacked into the short sides shows this.

On both the lid and the bottom the logo ‘GEM’ is painted in a light blue paint over the top of the box lacquer. Puzzlingly, the writing is bigger on what appears to be the bottom than the top. The form of the of the word and decorative fonts corresponds to the same style of logo used in advertising materials.  The logo was initially thought to be stencilled on, but further examination shows that in fact this is not so. There are traces of a guide or stamp impressed into the wood along the underlining and it seems likely that some sort of impression of the word form was made into the box.

When this occurred is unknown. The word ‘GEM’ does not seem initially to have been used by Gaggenau, but seems to be an importers trade mark. It is tempting to see it as some sort of acronym of Gaggenau Eisenwerke [metalfabrikum?] but this is just a suggestion.

The GEM mark seems to have been used from 1882 where it is to be seen in an advertisement in Punch. However, several importers were apparently using this. In 1887 a case was brought by one Adolph Arbenz of Birmingham against a Charles Osborne, a firearms retailer and importer of Whittall Street  Birmingham. Arbenz claimed that the trade mark was his, as he had been importing these guns since 1881 and that Osborne, who had retailed Arbenz imported guns, was intending to use it without his permission. Arbenz won the case and GEM became an exclusive mark. Osborne seemingly gave up on importing these guns as his 1889 catalogue, while it has air pistols for sale, seemingly carries no air rifles. Arbenz had quite close connections with Gaggenau being the British communicant of a patent (British Patent 4413/86 of 1886), granted to Flurscheim & Bergmann of Eisenwerke Gaggenau.

This style of air rifle was also known as a ‘Jewel’ in some advertisements, this may have been as a result of the 1887 legal case.

The question arises as to when the name was first used. The Gaggenau catalogue (in 1895) simply refers to them as air weapons (Luft Gewehre). The 1887 legal case implies that Arbenz was the first to call them ’GEM’  this at least in the UK. It seems likely then that the painted trade mark was applied after their import into England. This does beg the question of how they were imported, in cases of multiple guns, or ins single boxes. Is this box an original transport case? Some such must have existed.

Thanks to contributors from the AirgunBBS, and the gentlemen at Protek Supplies in Bognor  for information and helpful advice.