Interesting Geco 9mm Mauserautopistol box from 1933

I recently acquired the box pictured below. The date code on the back is “NG” which I believe to be 1933. The ammunition is in 10 round stripper clips (unmarked) and is headstamped “Geco 9m/m M”. It is clearly a contract load for a Spanish speaking country. The wraparound label has been used to reseal the box and is upside down relative to the original label. I suspect that the label was for 7.63mm Mauser cartridges since the “9 mm” is printed on a seperate piece of paper and glued over the original caliber identification.

I suspect the box has an interesting story to tell, and there are members of the Forum who know the story or can at least identify the marking on the end. I think the Spanish along the bottom identifies the company as Astra who in 1933 was making a lot of Mauser style pistols for sale to China among other customers.

I have never heard of an Astra pistol in 9mm Mauser, though Len Antaris in his book on the Astra includes an ad for the 700 Super Azul 700 which was offered in 9mm Bergman and 38 Colt Auto in addition to 7.63mm Mauser. I guess it, or other Mauser-looking pistols could have been made in 9mm Mauser. I doubt the box was made for Mauser made 9mm Broomhandle pistols since it is marked with the Astra identification.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Cheers,
Lew

aa

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Lew, interesting that the box have a tax stamp of the spanish govt.

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Lew,

What are the stamped words in black ink to the right of and diagonal the text in the label?

"Auf Stre__ " ???

Brian

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So that is a Spanish Tax Stamp!!!

The stamp on the front is “Auf Streifes” I think it means on Clips.

Cheers,
Lew

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Lew,

I think that German phrase might be “auf Streifen.” Could be wrong,
as my lack of knowledge of German is monumental. I have never seen this
lovely box before.

Am I missing something? I don’t see any “Astra” ID as it goes to the brand
of the Pistol. Clearly it was made for Unceta y Co, who made the "ASTRA"
brand pistols, but the box appears to be clearly labeled for use in Mauser
pistols, and I assume the clips are Mauser Pistol clips. So, I think the big
question is to what end were these made for Unceta? Myself, I have not a
clue as to why!

John Moss

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Yup, I work for the IRS, this is a powder tax stamp.

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And the spanish shield is previous to General Franco period. When Franco rules they added an black eagle to the shield.

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The rubber stamp definitely is “Auf Streifen” and means stripper clips (Ladestreifen) which would point to Mauser lookalikes.

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John is correct. Im pretty sure the stamp on the front is “auf Streifen” which means “On Strips”. The last letter is very difficult to read.

A tax stamp prior to Franco and the Civil War which began in 1936 would tie in with the 1933 date.

I have seen the company referred to as Astra: Unceta y Cía or just Astra Unceta y Cia although Pedro Unceta. left the company in 1936. The weapon ads pictured in Len’s book generally refer to Astra and Unceta y Cia together. I didn’t realize that there was a Unceta y Cia seperate from Astra, or did anything but make and sell weapons. The ads for the period call the Caliber 7.63mm Mauserfor all the Mauser type weapon ads I have seen.

I am at a loss why Astra: Unceta Y Cia would have ammunition made unless it was somehow associated with their pistols, perhaps for boxed pistols. It seems strange that they would be selling ammo for Mauser made pistols unless they were in the retail ammo business.

Are other boxes know marked Unceta Y Cia. Has anyone else seen a Unceta Y Cia marked box?

Cheers,
Larry

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Hi Lew,

Nice find! I have a picture of an identical box but I’m afraid it’s empty.

Unceta y Cía. offered Geco ammunition for their pistols, revolvers and carbines in several catalogs from the 1930’s. I’m aware of similar boxes in 7.63 mm Mauser, 7.65 mm Browning (picture below), 9 mm Bergmann-Bayard, .38 Auto, and .380 Auto.

The wraparound label indicates the tax applied to explosives and associated items that was established on December 23, 1916 and put into practice after September 1, 1917, when the UEE monopoly was suppressed. The value was indicated by means of a series of seals printed by the National coin mint and stamp print works in Madrid. This box show the earliest seal design and tax of 3 pesetas per hundred (1.50 per 50) for “cartridges loaded abroad” that was established in 1932.

Regards,

Fede

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Lew - I mentioned in my reply that Unceta y Cia made the Astra Pistols;
I did not indicate that there was another company or branch to Unceta,
since I simply don’t know. My point was that the label did not mention
anything about Astra Pistols, but rather specifically that the cartridges were
for the Mauser Pistol.

I didn’t know the information Fede supplied, that is, that Unceta did offer
Geco ammunition for their own weapons. Perhaps they also offered some
calibers to buyers of ammunition for non-Astra firearms. It is not a stretch
of the imagination, especially, to think that it is possible since they bought
some of the Geco Line, that they also purchased ammo that they could sell
in Spain (or ???) for guns not in their line. In fact, as I mentioned above, the
big question here IS why did Unceta obtain 9 mm Mauser ammo if they didn’t
sell guns in that caliber. My answer was and is - “I don’t know.”

John M.

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Fede,
Wonderful info! Again, MANY THANKS!!! Biggest thing to me is that the dates you and DGFM provided support the Geco date codes that I have been using. 1935 would be a very reasonable date for this box.

John,
I agree with you. In the ads in books I have checked Astra only offered ammunition in conjunction with their guns. That is what led me to my original post. Is it possible that they also offered ammo to other buyers in calibers they didn’t use? Yes, but it seems to deviate from their apparent practice. I will contact Len and see if he knows of an Astra weapon in 9mmM. In fact, Astra produced so much custom stuff that a 9mmM Astra could have easily been a special order. Who Knows! Still, a Mauser style pistol-which Astra made in quantity-chambered for 9mmM seems like a logical conclusion.The other calibers in this style box all seem to be for Astra pistols. Just my theory, which as you know are often incorrect.

Cheers,
Lew

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Lew, if made for Unceta y Cia (there is no company name evident in
the photo except for GECO, but of course we cannot see the side-panels),
then that great box pictured by Fede may offer a clue in the Wording “para
Pistolas Automáticas Astra y otras marcas” (Astra and other brands).

If the box is not made specifically for Unceta, than that wording has less
significance, and could indicate simply Geco’s export label to Spanish-speaking
countries, with Spain primarily due to mentioning Astra Pistols.

Just a thought.

John M.

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The side panels on my box are blank and the end panel has the Geco logo as pictured and Sinoxid.

You make a good point. The 7,65mm box could and probably is the generic box Geco label for Spain! I would like to know the date code, if any on the back.

The 9mmM box is clearly made for Unceta y Cía and is very unlikely to be a generic Geco box for sale in Spain.

Cheers,
Lew

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Lew and John, I don’t have a picture of the date code, but there is a rubber stamp in the back indicating a tax for metal products (Timbre Metálico) and showing the Astra trademark.

Also, It’s worth mentioning that the 7.63 mm Mauser box for Unceta y Cía. also has the Astra trademark on the side panel. I’ll try to take some pictures in the following days.

During the timeframe when these cartridges were manufactured the solely importer of Geco ammunition in Spain was SEAM, who also owned the Geco trademark, so I think that it is possible the order for these Astra/Unceta special packaging was arranged with them.

Regards,

Fede

Very interesting information Fede. That would indicate to me that they were somehow associated with ASTRA pistols since general supply of generic Geco ammunition would likely have been through SEAM. That is another valuable bit of information.

Many thanks!

Cheers,
Lew

Lew,
I wasn’t referring exactly to Generic sales for the 9 mm Mauser box, but
rather relating it to the statement made by Fede that Unceta offered ammunition
for sale as well as their Astra Pistols. The Astra Stamp on the back of the box
was probably local, and would not, in my view, be in conflict with the INTENDED
USE of this clipped ammunition in Mauser Pistols; intended, that is, by Geco, and
perhaps even by Unceta, if they specified the wording of the label.

Again, as I said before, the remaining question about this Unceta-marked box
remains “What was the end use for this particular shipment of ammo of 9 mm
Mauser caliber?” I believe that still remains to be discovered.

I’m sorry to be repetitive on this, but it doesn’t seem like I am making myself
clear in what I have posted before. Also, I am a big believer in documentation on
things like this, where part of some the ideas expressed seem to contradict the
Manufacturer’s own label wording. If Unceta never made a pistol in the caliber 9 x 25 mm
Mauser, it seems clear to me, from the box wording, that it must be for use other than in
an Astra Pistol, and if made for Unceta to sell, would indicate they also sold ammo for use in
pistols from other makers, just as the 7.65 mm box points out (“para otras Marcas”).

John Moss

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John,
I think I understand a where you are coming from. I have seen no evidence that Astra ever offered ammunition for general sale. No ammo catalogs and no listing of calibers and prices.

Fede, In your first post above, were you referring to the Astra weapons catalogs also listing ammunition, or are you talking about Unceta y Cía ammunition catalogs? The term, “offered Geco ammunition for their pistols…” implies to me that the ammunition was specifically offered for their pistols and they made pistols in all the calibers listed.

I would be very interested in a photo of a Unceta y Cía 7.63mm Mauser to see if my 9mm Mauser box is simply a 7.63mm box with the “9mm” glued on over the 7,63mm.

I don’t think we know that Astra never made a pistol in 9mmM, at least I don’t. I do know that I have never seen or read of one but those conditions have covered a lot of things in the past that subsequently turned up.

Cheers,
Lew

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Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread! Great work!

I am turning this information and other information I have received into an article for the IAA Journal.

I am very interested in seeing the photo of the label of a 7.63mm Mauser box of this style.

I would also like the date codes from the back of this style box in any caliber.

Has anyone got any further thoughts on this subject?

Finally, has anyone ever seen one of these type boxes in 9x19mm??? Had to ask that question!!!

Again, Thanks!

Lew

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Lew,

Just now reading this. Referring to mention of 9 mm Bergmann-Bayard
ammunition in our exchange of emails today, I checked and I have
no box made for Spain in any other country. But then, why would they
bother, when by the Spanish Civil War era, they had at least three or
four factories turning out this caliber, and it had been made since at
least 1916 or there-abouts (Campo Giro - just another name for 9 mm
Largo stemming, in my opinion, from misreading the box label), and
perhaps earlier, for the 1908 Bergmann-Bayard Pistols.

Also, there was talk about the Ge co ammo being for test purposes (I
assume that meant in-house testing of Astra’s pistols with that ammo),
but if it was brought from Germany just for that purpose, why would they
bother with a special label, especially when some of them are carefully
marked to incude “otras marcas” (other brands) of Pistols, and the Mauser
labels marked only for Mauser pistols, and on clips for Mauser pistols? Makes
no sense to me. If not for use outside of the factory (retail sales?) why would
a gun company bother to put their name on the ammo boxes at all, unless they
wanted represent their company name in connection with the sale of ammunition?

The absence of advertising material is certainly a factor in figuring all this out, but
in my view, not a critical factor. There are plenty of companies that have made
ammo in the past where it is difficult to find any advertising or other documentary
material on them. That’s why we have so many unknown headstamps on older
ammo, and I am not talking about obvious military codes, like German and Russian
numerical or letter codes, or Chinese numerical codes. These are usually on Military
rounds and military calibers.

Personally, the older I get and the more information I find out, the more convinced I
am that in the huge field of ammunition production, distribution and use, we have
only scratched the surface of knowledge about it. Of course, that’s why these discussions
are good - they make us all dig a little deeper.

Concerning the possibility of boxes like those under discussion, but in 9 x 19 mm Parabellum
caliber, anything is possible, but the 9 mm Para was not a “Spanish Caliber.” There was very
little use of this caliber until after WW2. Of course, with the hodge-podge of weapons used in
the Spanish CW, there were bound to be some in 9 x 19 mm, but I would bet they were minimal
compared to other calibers like 9 mm Largo. Just as the illegality of some military calibers in some
countries offering little or no market for those calibers, the popularity of other calibers may be a
factor as well when certain calibers are missing from an otherwise large family of cartridges. Just
a thought.

John Moss

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