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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to sell an Ithaca M1911A1 for my late fathers estate and I am pretty handgun ignorant. It is marked "M 1911 A1 US Army". It has these markings: "P" on top of the slide, "P" between the trigger and the handle, "FJA" between the trigger and the handle, "C" on the other side of the gun on the trigger guard(?). I don't know where the serial number is. It has a chrome finish, which I know is not desirable. The gun seems to be in good condition. Any idea how much money I could sell it for? I also have a leather case that hold two extra clips.
 

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It looks to me like the serial number and US Property marking was removed prior to nickel plating. They should be just above the trigger on the right side of the gun.
Someone with more expertise in military issued guns should be along soon to render an opinion
 

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Serial number under the grip panel? I would swear I've seen that before. Was it plated with the sights installed??? Hard to tell from pictures but sure looks like it. I don't know military firearms very well but I do know plating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Serial number under the grip panel? I would swear I've seen that before. Was it plated with the sights installed??? Hard to tell from pictures but sure looks like it. I don't know military firearms very well but I do know plating.
I can't tell if it was plated with the sight on or off. The serial number is not under the the grips. Thanks for your help. Hopefuly someone knowledgeable of the military issues will help us out.
 

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Does it have a serial number at all?

The serial number should be on the right side of the frame between the top of the grip and the end of the slide stop pin, just beneath the marking "UNITED STATES PROPERTY". It appears to have been "scrubbed", possibly by means of a grinder and wire-brush wheel. That's probably what accounts for the bumper-chrome plating job too.

If that is the case - serial number removed - you have a big problem on your hands. Possession of any firearm with an altered or removed serial is a federal felony. And the worst part of it is that the "scrubbing" was entirely unnecessary.

There were vast numbers of 1911 pistols that came home from WWII in the duffel bags of returning servicemen. What would happen is that the 2nd LT that the pistol was issued to would get killed or seriously wounded, but one of his soldiers would hold on to the pistol - every soldier wanted a pistol "just in case", and his sergeant didn't care because it only increased the squad's combat effectiveness. Headquarters, however, had already written that pistol off of their books when the original owner became a casualty. At the end of the war, if the soldier actually tried to turn it in, the headquarters clerk wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, because for all that time the pistol no longer existed on paper. So the soldier could do one of three things: throw it in a river, trade it to some Frenchman for a bottle of wine, or hide it in his duffel bag and hope it didn't get found. And even if it DID turn up in a surprise inspection on the troop ship home, nobody really cared and they just gave t a "burial at sea".

After the soldier returned to civilian life, and started a career and family, he worried that one day there would be a knock on the door and the FBI would drag him away in handcuffs for theft of government property. So out came the grinder and wire wheel - next stop the bumper shop. In fact, the government knew the score and didn't want to make criminals of former service members who had risked their lives for their country, so the government basically issued a blanket "pardon" so to speak to anyone with a "bring back" pistol in their possession.

Too bad. Ithacas are not very common. If it were in it's original finish with honest WWII service patina, it would be worth a lot of money. Now it's just a liability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks so much for taking the time to go into so much detail about the history of the guns. Very interesting.

You asked if there was any serial number at all. No, there was no sign of one. I don't have the gun anymore. I sold it to an acquaintance. I had been told that if it didn't have a serial number it was illegal to possess and I told him that but he wanted to buy it anyway. A gun shop employee told me that it was possible to get a new serial number by applying to the ATF. Do you know if that is true?
 

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Thanks so much for taking the time to go into so much detail about the history of the guns. Very interesting.

You asked if there was any serial number at all. No, there was no sign of one. I don't have the gun anymore. I sold it to an acquaintance. I had been told that if it didn't have a serial number it was illegal to possess and I told him that but he wanted to buy it anyway. A gun shop employee told me that it was possible to get a new serial number by applying to the ATF. Do you know if that is true?
Pretty sure that can't do that, Otherwise what would keep criminals from "laundering" guns used in crimes?

The BATFE is not known for their sense of humor.

Case in point: A guy I know told me that they were cleaning out the house that had belonged to a recently deceased relative, preparatory to an estate sale. In the attic, packed away in an old trunk, they found an old full-auto Thompson sub-machine gun! Now the deal is, back in the 1930's when the law was passed that made them illegal (Before then you could buy them at the hardware store!), if you already owned a full-auto gun, there was a grace period when you could have the serial number registered, and then you could keep it. But after that, if you were caught with an unregistered one, you went to jail and the gun went to the oven (or maybe it was the other way around........).

So now they had a problem: Did Uncle Joe, or Grandpa, or whoever owned it at the time register it or not? The only way they could could find out would be to call the BATFE. "Hi! Could you tell me, hypothetically, of course, if Thompson sub-machine gun serial number NNNNNN is on the registered list please?"

How do you think that would turn out?
 
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