J.G. Anschütz “Keenfire” (c.1936 to c.1938)

A good year ago I wrote a short article about the J.G. Anschütz Dolla MKII. I mentioned in that article that the Dolla MKII had also been imported to the United States and sold as the “Keenfire”. As luck would have it, a fellow collector from the United States contacted me with a boxed Keenfire that he wished to sell. I’m pleased to say that it has now found a new home in Jimmie Dee’s collection.

Although the Dolla MKII was manufactured from about 1929, it is believed that the Dolla MKII was imported from Germany to the United States in 1936. Certainly, the earliest known United States advertisement can be found in the 1936 Lee Sales Company catalogue of New York. The last known advertisement can be found in the 1938 Johnson Smith & Company catalogue (No. 148). It is possible that the air pistol was sold for some years following 1938. However, any such air pistols would be old stock as the outbreak of World War II in 1939 put an end to the exportation of German products.

The Dolla MKII and the Keenfire variants are almost identical. The most obvious difference is the brass medallion found on the grips. Whereas the Dolla MKII medallion is embossed with “The Dolla MKII”, the Keenfire has “JGA” embossed medallions.

The second difference lies in the text stamped into the heel of the grip. The Dolla MKII is stamped “D.G.R.M” and “MADE IN GERMANY”, whereas the Keenfire is stamped “REG.U.S.PAT.”.

Distinctly different brass medallions.

The head of the seal pin reveals the third difference in design between the two air pistols. The knurled head of the Dolla MKII is split into two by a recessed gap. Whereas the head of the Keenfire seal pin is rounded at each end and finished with a single knurled grip. This difference may not be specific to the Dolla MKII and the Keenfire. It is entirely possible that the Dolla MKII pin seal was redesigned at some period. Or on the other hand, either design may have been used in either pistol interchangeably. Only further study of the pin seals of these air pistols may reveal further information. However, with no method of identifying the date of manufacture of each pistol, we would only be able to identify how many pin seal variants were produced. Having said that, if you take a close look at the catalogue advert above, you can clearly see the split knurled head that I described fitted to my Dolla MKII.

A JGA “Keenfire” complete with Keenfire red box and ammunition compartment.

The Keenfire was supplied in one of two boxes. Either a red box as seen with this example or an identical but blue box. Another “JGA” medallion “Dolla MKII” in a larger box exists. It is a blue box with the words “Air Pistol Outfit” on the lid along with “For Indoor and Outdoor” and “REG US PATENT OFFICE”, “GERMANY”. This larger box is mostly identical to the box that “JGA” medallion air pistols were supplied with in Germany as indicated here. This indicates that the larger boxed air pistols are not “Keenfire” examples.

There is another variant of the Dolla MKII / Keenfire called the “LOC”. It is identical in appearance to the Dolla MKII and the Keenfire except that the brass medallion is vertically embossed “LOC”. The heel of the grip indicates that it is made in Japan. However, the box that it was supplied in matches that of the larger blue box except stating “JAPAN” instead of “GERMANY”. It is possible that they were made in separate countries. However, it is also more credible that J.G. Anschütz manufactured various branded Dolla MKII air pistols for different countries. Yet another mystery that we will probably never be able to solve.

Big Chief / JGA advertisement in the 1936 Hudson Catalogue – courtesy The Vintage Airguns Gallery.

Now, just as you think there can’t be any more versions of this air pistol, there’s the “Big Chief” as seen in the 1936 Hudson catalogue. Clearly, Keenfire were not the only importer of the JGA / Dolla MKII! Interestingly, the name “Big Chief” was also given to a Frank Clarke air pistol. It was known as the “Thunderbolt Junior” in Great Britain and was a different design altogether. However, Frank’s air pistol was not produced until 1947.

This particular example of the JGA Keenfire is in superb condition and still packs a punch! It has probably hardly been used and forgotten about in its box until discovered in a house clearance. Luckily the box hasn’t succumbed to any dampness or water damage as is the fate of many air pistols and their boxes. I am very lucky to have this air pistol in the collection!

Until next time, happy shooting!

Jimmie Dee

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