DESPATCHES

NEWS, HONOURS, AWARDS AND CURIOS

A rare Thompson submachine gun and a Crimean War VC were among the lots that got people bidding in recent auctions

“ TOP ORIGINAL” TOMMY GUN HITS POCKETS HARD

An iconic submachine gun with a fascinating link to British and Irish histor y fetches $66,000

The hard-hitting Thompson owes its origins to the trenches of World War One. Although it arrived too late for that conflict, it became popular with civilians, US law enforcement agencies and prohibition-era crime syndicates. The Thompson also equipped British and Empire/Commonwealth forces during World War Two. The ‘Tommy Gun’ was ‘first’ acquired by the British in in 1940, using gold bullion to order more than 100,000 guns in the pre-Lend-Lease phase of American assistance. However, the gun sold in December by Pennsylvania-based Morphy Auctions is perhaps one of the earliest to ever see British service and was shipped long before World War Two.

Described as an “unquestionably all original [and a] high condition specimen”, this particular Colt-manufactured M1921A Thompson is a rarity. The firearm, serial 152, is one of five Thompsons (the others being 121, 134, 135, and 175) shipped to British police, Gordon Herigstad’s Serial Numbers and Histories noting “Captain H B C Pollard, London, England, British arms expert, shipped 4/26/21”. An April 26, 1921, letter from F Merkling, secretary of the Auto-Ordnance Corporation, to Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company reveals that the submachine guns were shipped that day as a tax-exempt shipment.

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