The most iconic NFA weapon? Some would say the AK, or the M16A1. But you don’t have to be a full-on wehraboo to prefer the FG42, MP40 or MG42, and a few connoisseurs like the clockwork of a Maxim or BREN. But if you were to poll a thousand gun enthusiasts, the blank would most often be filled in with the various names of the original Chicago Typewriter, the Thompson Submachine Gun.
In recent years, even beater Thompsons have reached nosebleed price levels, with the most desirable early Colt-produced 1921 and 1928 guns reaching levels that would crimp even the Navy’s LCS budget. (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not a huge one. And of course, with a Tommy, you’re actually armed, which is more than the LSC swabbies can say).
So we were a little surprised to see that this GunBroker auction ended on the 11th in a No Sale, despite the rarity and solid provenance of the firearm. The bidding was soft, taking some time to open at an initial bid of $20k and reaching only $29k before stalling out. The reserve is unknown (except for, “higher than $29,000,” obviously), but based on the selling prices of other 1921s and 1928s recently, was most probably in the high $30s.
Here’s the description (paragraph breaks added)
Colt Model 1928 Navy Overstamp. Thompson Submachine manufactured by Colt for the Auto-Ordnance Corporation. Colt manufactured 15,000 Thompson Submachine Guns for the Auto-Ordnance Corporation in 1921.
The Marine Corps obtained a small number of Model 1921 Thompsons in the mid-1920s and used the weapons with success in Nicaragua and China. Based on Marine combat experience, most of the unsold Model 1921 Thompsons were modified by Auto-Ordnance to reduce the rate of fire from 800 to 600 rounds per minute by adding a heavier actuator and had a Cutts Compensator added to the muzzle.
The modified Thompsons were designated “Model 1928 Navy”. Auto-Ordnance stamped “U.S. NAVY” above the model designation on the left side of the receiver and over-stamped the “1” in “1921” with “8”. The Marine Corps and Navy purchased a small number of Model 1928 Thompsons in the late 1920s and early 1930s; most 1928 Thompsons were sold to state and local law enforcement agencies.
That’s true of this firearm, Serial Nº 13350, which found a home with the Plymouth Borough, Pennsylvania, police department. Plymouth never used it in anger, although they sent for it once while tracking a multiple murderer. Since the firearm has increased greatly in cash value, but has little practical value for a 21st-Century copper, the Department thought that they could turn it into cash for some of their more mundane, but immediate, needs.
They were disappointed that the gun did not sell. As of this morning, the Thompson has not been relisted.
It was a bit scratched up. Collectors are strange cats; they want every gun to be documented as having been in the first landing craft on Omaha Beach, while simultaneously being LNIB. Maybe the scratches are what did it in.
Overall condition is fair with normal handling marks consistent with the gun’s age and police department use. There are deep scratches on the receiver. The gun includes two stick mags. There is no drum or any other accessories included. The mags have deep scratches on one side with the police departments initials.
No doubt that at the moment, they’re buried in lowball offers from some of the more rapacious high-volume NFA dealers (you know who you are).
For more information on Plymouth’s use of, and decision to sell, this Thompson, see this local news story.