Following on from a previous article about Frank Clarke’s “Briton” (second model) air pistol, this one is almost identical except it has white plastic grip inserts (although they appear yellow in the photographs, trust me, they are white) rather than an all pressed steel body.
A closer inspection reveals that there are brass washers under the three blued screws on one side of the pistol and brass screws without washers on the other side. Strangely, one side has blued steel screws and the other brass. This arrangement of screws has been seen with other examples but not all. On some, all of the screws are blued steel. However, the brass washers have been seen on all of these pistols that I am aware of. Certainly, they add to the “deluxe” appearance although I expect they were intended to serve a functional purpose. Perhaps to protect the pressed-steel body from the steel screws which would explain why the screws on the other side are brass and would have no need for the brass washers. Although why not use the same material for the screws all round? Perhaps it was a case of short supply of parts. Or perhaps the brass screws, which are actually internally threaded, into which the steel screws attach, were made in-house and the steel screws sourced from an external supplier. Was brass cheaper or easier to machine or both? It’s certainly a puzzle. I am convinced that the screws are original as another almost identical pistol in Jimmie Dee’s collection, the Limit, which I will discuss in the next article also has three brass and three blued steel screws.
On all examples that I have seen, all the branding, bulldog motif and “Made in England” stamps are sited together on the top of the pistol just ahead of the rear sight.
There is no advertising literature known for the deluxe version of the Briton. Therefore establishing the period of manufacture is difficult to pin down. However, the bulldog motif on this variant is of the latter design. Thus the production of this variant may have started towards the end of the 1930s or perhaps early after the second world war. How long they were produced for is also a mystery.
I mentioned that Frank’s all-steel variant is cosmetically identical to the Diana 2 bar its branding. However, the deluxe model with its plastic grip inserts was never retailed as a Diana air pistol. This adds further credence to the theory that both this and the all-steel variant were produced by, or for, Frank Clarke in England rather than by Diana in Germany.
It is indeed interesting that advertising literature for this air pistol has yet to be discovered. Add to the fact that the deluxe model is quite rare, it is possible perhaps that these air pistols were sold in very small numbers. Printing advertising literature for a small run of air pistols would not be economical which may explain why no such literature has been discovered.
Until next time, happy shooting!