Gauge-Need help with old German Script

I recently acquired a German 9mm P08 gauge with the letter “N” on it in a script that I do not recognize, but my knowledge of old German letter styles is very limited.

The typical “Old German” version of the letter “N”, in both styles,is as shown below.

I was told by a very expert German that the style on the gauge is of a style in use in Germany before WWI.


The marking on the front of the gauge is “N ° 3 19.5” and its style/shape is typical of a German 9mm P08 Gauge.

A quick look through the fount styles in Word on my computer didn’t reveal any obvious ones that would match this style, but I could have overlooked a fount style.

Can anyone identify when this letter style was used in Germany? This is important since it will help date the gauge.

Has anyone seen a similar gauge?


PS: The length of the gauge measures 19.49mm. The DWM cartridge list shows the length of the 480 (9mm P08) cartridge as 19.1-0.2mm so this is obviously a N0-Go gauge.

In my view its not an ordinary letter N.
The uppercase N followed by a small circle which has one (as in the image) or two lines below it, is a symbol having the meaning “Numero” (number) in German, similar to the pound mark in English:
Gauge #3
I agree that this symbol is typical for the time before WW1.

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JPeelen is right about the “№” sign coming from latin “numero”, but the German word is “nummer”, both obviously translating into “number”. The typical abbreviation used in German is “nr.” or just “nr”.
The same abbreviations are used in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish, and also Polish and Romanian.

Can also be seen on some Russian firearms, with “№” as a prefix before the serial number.

Maybe Alex has some information on historic usage, but I’d be a bit surprised if Germans used “№” over “nr.” very long out into the 1900s.


Ole, for me it is hard to say as for “Nr.” vs. “№”. The transition could have been fluent and in the military the use was definately WW1 or before.
Sure Jochem will know more than I do.
Not to forget that German stuff never was my specialty (if there is any at all).

In Russian the “№” is not considered “letters” in the traditional sense but a symbol and is also used as such on keyboards or fonts of type writers.

I saw it being used by my grandparents when I was a boy around 1960. They told me its pronunciation.
But for an industrial product like a gauge or a printed document I think “before WW1” is correct.

Great information. Pre WWI would mean that it was probably a DWM gauge, or perhaps Erfurt since, I believe, they began making the Luger in 1910, at least mine is 1913.

Many thanks!

Any other information is appreciated.

Does anyone know what the “N° 3” might mean???


As for Lew’s gauge:
It also could be factory internal or for commercial use by gunsmiths or even police.
There I could imagine that the “No” was used by habit - maybe even after WW1.
And what if it is not German made at all? Actually France is a prominent user of the “No” - also long after WW1 (not saying it is French of course).

In my view very hard to tell when no original packing, manufacturer catalog or manual will show up stating on this or using this very designation.

Also I am almost sure that there was no “official” order or so if “Nr” or “No” had to be used.
Means one using the “No” even after WW1 could just have been a notorious diehard (one like me?).

I looked up some documents, ammo related and not.
It appears there was no strict line of what was used when and by whom.
As for the German military there could have been a formal order as for which spelling had to be used. But back in the old days such things were way less organized and way less political correct (unlike today).
I think we must allow in a lot of personal gusto of all related persons marking things and not.

Here some samples in chronological order:

1883 Lorenz

1891 DWM, using Both No variants

1895 DWM

DWM 1911

DWM 1913

1915 some arms manufacturer

1930 commercial

1940 commercial, using “Nr” and “No”.

1950 commercial, still “No”

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I understand that the use of No with the “o” underlined could occur over quite a span of time and that there is no clear transition.Thanks to all of you for your input to No vs Nr. Well done Alex.

My original question was on the style of the fount used for the unusual letter “N”. If I could identify this fount (letter style) then it may allow me to identify when it was introduced and other information about the style. The flowing nature of the letter is not similar to any of the founts in my review of the founts on Word. It looks to me like a more flowing fount than any I have seen.

Has anyone seen a similar letter style, particularly in German since the gauge appears very similar to known WWI German gauges.


Lew, the “N” on your gauge is the typical “swung” style often used with the underlined “No”.
I did not look much into other countries but this style seems to be international, not something exclusively German as such.

Here actually some of the legendary SFM drawings featuring the “very French” variant of the “No” with the swung ends of the “N”.

Here a bit from people who know about languages and history of the “Numero” sign:

As EOD pointed out Russian uses this particular style of N in writing ‘No’ despite the fact the cyrillic alphabet has no letter that resembles the Latin N; they’re just following tradition. Jack

Alex, Thanks!!! The style is very similar to the French drawings, but the style of the gauge is German and the French had little use for a P08 gauge until after WWII.

Jack, Interesting input but the same applies to the Russian need for a P08 style gauge.

The only gauges I have seen in this style are the P08 and P38 German gauges from 1944 and earlier. I have gauges from other countries, but nothing similar to these pre-1945 German gauges. The post war West German gauges are similar but have a band around them. The East German gauges are similar but have distinctive markings.The markings on the only WWI German gauges I have documented also have distinctive markings.

Information on other German gauges would be interesting, particularly any before the late 1930s.


Lew, one of my points above was also that your gauge might be not German military and then the “No” will be no date indicator as for pre 1918 (or somewaht later). Hence all the examples above.

Lew - While I have only one pair germane to the question at hand, American Clymer
headspace gauges are very similar to the 7 WWII German Gauges and 5 DDR (East German) gauges that I have in 9 mm Para, right down to the firing pin clearance hole in the head and the small hole in the top of the gauge, as well as being basically “empty case” in profile.

John Moss

EOD, I agree that the gauge may not be German military. It could be DWM and used on both the military and non-military pistols.

I would really like to know if anyone has similar markings like No 3 on any other caliber gauges. If any of these trace back to DWM than that would be a clue.

John, You are of course right as usual!!! Really an annoying habit on your part… The Clymer gauges are very like the German gauges. Mine both have an alignment notch in the base, but there are likely Clymer gauges that lack these notches. Thanks my friend for correcting my oversight!

This gauge is apparently out of an old German gun collection. It is clearly not WWII military (my reference on these goes back to 1938 dated gauges). My documentation on WWI gauges is limited to a single pair of gauges that have very different markings.

It seems to me that the lack of the military type markings would imply use by a commercial organization, which would probably be DWM.

It would be great if Forum members could post images of other DWM gauges or other Pre-WWII gauges.

Gauges are tough to identify. Any help appreciated.


Lew, I have one set of Clymer with the notches in the base and one without them. That’s why I mentioned the ones “germane to the question at hand,” because the ones with the slot have that major difference. I am not sure it is an alignment slot, because a perfectly round headspace gauge should not have any alignment question, although it could have something to do with clearing an extractor, and thinking of it, that would be an alignment of sorts.

Maybe one of our Forum members knows the exact reason that some have these slots and some don’t???.


Thanks John, I just ordered a set without the notch, but the ones illustrated have a much wider groove than the German gauges or my current Clymer, so there must be at least three variations.


Lew - I suspect that there are many variations of these gauges, since they are a commodity regularly sold to gunsmiths, and even gun tinkerers like me. I have many calibers of headspace gauges, some for guns I own or have owned, and some bought specifically for the collection. I don’t think Clymer is the only company that has made them in the US, but they have a very fine reputation for quality of precision, so that is the brand I have tried to stick to. For my 6.5 x 55 rifles, I have a set of original Swedish headspace gauges, and for .30 Carbine, for example, some original U.S. Army ones.

By the way, another gauge that is made pretty much in the same pattern as the German “Stahlpatronen” are the Polish 9 x 18 mm Gauges. I only have one, my sole headspace gauge in that caliber, and it has the “empty-case profile,” the firing pin clearance hole in the gauge’s head, and the smaller hole in the top of the gauge, just like the German and American Clymer gauges. Another exception!

John Moss