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Serial Number Letter Prefixes

Listing of the different letter serial number prefixes as used on French firearms.
A script letter prefix was issued to each of the different Nationale Manufacturers and was to be used for each block of firearms made by that armory. Once a block of numbers was used they moved on to the next letter and so forth. Once the manufacturer got to the last letter block assigned to them they started back with the first letter but added a second letter to it usually the second letter assigned to them ... Ex. FG. French firearms were always produced in blocks of 100,000.
These letter prefixes started for rifles in 1866 with introduction of the Fusil de Infanterie Modèle 1866 dit "Chassepot" and used to the end of production of the MAS 49/56. These prefixes were also used on the various revolvers made from 1873 to 1892.

Note: These prefixes do not apply to French Semi-Automatic Pistols

1. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault (MAC) ... A, B, C, D, E
2. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint Etienne (MAS) ... F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q
3. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle (MAT) ... R, S, T, U, V
4. Letter code X ... This letter was used on rifles rejected for service or live fire but used for instruction purposes only

Miscellaneous Manufacturers
1. Établissement Delaunay-Belleville (EDB) ... They used block letters A,B,C but scripted letters A,B,C have been encountered as well
2. Manufacture d'Armes de Paris (MAP) ... They have seemed to use various scripted letters


Manufacturer Codes

Listing of some of the common manufacturer codes that have been seen on some of the various French weapons.
Note: This listing is for both rifles and pistols

1. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault ... MAC
2. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint Etienne ... MAS
3. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle ... MAT
4. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Paris au Saint Denis ... MAP ... This manufacturer was a subsidiary of Fabrique National d'Armes de Guerre (FN) au Belgique
5. Manufacture d'Armes de Bayonne ... MAB
6. Manufacture d'Armes et Cycles de Saint Etienne ... MF ... This manufacturer was sub-contracted by MAS. Other names given to this manufacturer was Manu-France or 'La Manu'
7. Manufacture d'Armes des Pyrénées Françaises au Hendaye ... MAPF
8. Manufacture Parisienne d'Armes et de Mécanique Générale ... MPA ... They manufactured barrels and bolts only
9. Établissement Delaunay-Belleville ... EDB
10. Établissement Continsouza ... They manufactured receivers only
11. Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mechaniques ... SACM
12. Société d'Applications Generales d'Electrique et de Mécanique ... SAGEM
13. Remington Arms Corporation ... RAC
14. Allegemeine Elecktrizitats Gesellschaft (General Electric Company) ... AEG ... This code is seen on Post-WW1 rifles, this company was located in the Alsace-Lorraine region
15. Atelier Salaise ... SAL ... This code is seen on Post-WW1 rifles


Steel Manufacturers

Right above the serial number on pre-MAS 36 weapons is either a one or two letter code that shows who provided the steel for the barrel called the pourvoyeur de acier. Steel was provided by private manufacturing firms but the state supervised the manufacture of all the material made for it calling this service inspection des forges and was centered in Paris. The country was divided in five districts and each of which had a sous inspection des forges which were namely:
Nord located at Méziéres
L'Ouest located at Rennes
L'Est located at Besançon
Centre located at Nevers
Midi located at Toulouse

Here is a listing of some of the different steel suppliers that I have acquired so far and the codes used by different armories for the various steel suppliers. Also included is the "Regulatory Requirements" code for each steel supplier but as of this time I have no clue as to its true meaning ... more research is needed in this area for the various codes and steel suppliers used.

1. Bedel Pere ses fils et Cie ... Regulatory Requirements: A-B; MAC, MAT: B; MAS: AB
2. Companie des forges de Châtillon, Gemmentry and Menses-Maisons ... Regulatory Requirements: C-C; MAS, MAT: CC; MAC: C or CC
3. Holtser (Jacob) et Cie à Unieux ... Regulatory Requirements: J-H; MAC, MAS, MAT: JH
4. Société anonyme des aciéries et forges de Firminy (formerly called The Verdié Co), Firminy ... Regulatory Requirements: F-Y; MAC: V; MAS: FV; MAT: V (Before January 1, 1890), F (After January 1, 1890)
5. Compagnie des hauts fournaisses, forges et aciéries de fer à Saint Chamond (formerly Patin-Gaudet Co.) ... Regulatory Requirements: G; MAC: M; MAS: PG; MAT: S
6. Compagnie des fonderies,forges et aciéries de Saint Etienne ... Regulatory Requirements: A-S; MAS: AS; MAT: SE

7. Société Mérallergique de l’Ariego ... Regulatory Requirements: P-M; MAS: SA; MAT: AB
8. Chambon-Feugerolles (Claudinon et Cie) ... Regulatory Requirements: C-N; MAT: CD
9. Forges et aciéries de Moulin (F. Levinson et F Benché) (F. Loeison ??? en Chambon Fougerolles) ... Regulatory Requirements: I-F; MAS: I, B, or L; MAT: L
10. Schneider-Canet et Cie en Creusot ... Regulatory Requirements: SC; MAS: SC
11. Société anonyme des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries du Saut du Tarn ... Regulatory Requirements: ST; MAS: ST
12. Société anonyme des hauts forneaux forges et aciéries de Denain et Ansin, à Denain ... Regulatory Requirements: D-A; ;MAS: D or DN
13. Compagnie des aciérs Boehler (de Styria) ... MAT: BR
14. Acier de Finspong (Sweden) ... MAT: F (On barrels made starting in 1890)
15. Société Anonyme La Mécanique Méridionale, Toulouse ... MAC: MM

I have seen that Patrick have added MM code in the sticky "french firearms informations". One of the main problem is that these codes did not have always the same meaning at diffrent period of time. And the same code code can be used for different meaning. Sometimes, during the same period of time.
One well known example is code F used by MAT in 1900. It could be for Finspong steel (Sweden), or société anonyme des forges et aciéries de Firminy.
Lets try to give you some more data :
AB : Bedel père et fils (MAT until 1913)
A-B : Bedel père et fils (All factories since 1913)
Both codes are not used in the 50s
AE : Aciéries électriques Paul Girod à Ugine (MAT until 1913)
AR : Société métallurgique de l'Ariège (MAT until 1913)
AR : Aciéries du Rhône à Lyon (1950s)
AS : Cie des fonderies, forges et aciéries de Saint-Étienne (MAS until 1913)
AS : Cie des mines, fonderies et forges d'Alais, Gard (1950s)
A-S : Cie des fonderies, forges et aciéries de Saint-Étienne (All factories since 1913, but not used in the 1950s)
B : Bedel Pères et fils (MAC and MAS until 1913)
B : Forges et aciéries de Moulin au Chambon (MAS until 1913)
BE : Bedel, usine de la Bérardière, St-Étienne (1950s)
BR : Cie des aciers Boehler (MAT until 1913)
C : Cie des forges de Châtillon, Commentry et Neuves Maisons (MAC until 1913)
C : Cie française des métaux, usine de Castelsarrazin (1950s)
CC or C-C : Cie des forges de Châtillon, Commentry et Neuves Maisons (All factories, also used in the 1950s for the factory of Commentry only)
CCN : same, used in the 1950s for the factory of Neuves Maisons only.
CD : Claudinon (MAT until 1913)
CD : Ets Clerc-Renaud, Villeurbanne (1950s, not sure it was a steel provider)
CN or C-N : Ets Claudinon et Cie, le Chambon-Feugerolles, Loire (all factories since 1913 and 1950s)
D : S.A. des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries de Denain et d'Anzin (MAS until 1913)
D-A : S.A. des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries de Denain et d'Anzin (all factories since 1913)
DAD : S.A. des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries de Denain et d'Anzin (1950s)
DN : S.A. des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries de Denain et d'Anzin (MAS until 1913)
FV : S.A. des aciéries et forges de Firminy (MAS until 1913)
FY : Cie des ateliers et forges de La Loire, Firminy (1950s)
F-Y : S.A. des aciéries et forges de Firminy (All factories since 1913)
G : Cie française des métaux, Givet (1950s)
-G : Cie des hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la marine et des chemins de fer à St-Chamond (anciens établissements Pétin-Gaudet) all factories since 1913
I : Forges et aciéries de Moulin au Chambon (MAS until 1913)
I : Société de métallurgie franco-belge, Issy-les-Moulineaux (1950s, not sure it is a steel provider).
JH or J-H : Jacob Holtzer et Cie à Unieux : used by all factories until and since 1913, also during 1950s, it was then part of a larger group, Cie des forges et ateliers de La Loire.
L : Forges et aciéries de Moulin au Chambon (MAS and MAT until 1913)
L : S.A. des établissements Charpentier, Vogt, G. Goguel et Cie à Montbéliard (1950s, not sure it is a steel provider)
L-F : Forges et aciéries de Moulin au Chambon (all factories since 1913)
LF : Lefèvre à Amiens (1950s, not sure it is a steel provider)
M : Cie des hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la marine et des chemins de fer à St-Chamond (anciens établissements Pétin-Gaudet) used by MAC until 1913
M : S.A. des cuivres et alliages à Ham, Somme (1950s, Steel provider?)
MM : S.A. La Mécanique Méridionale, Toulouse (1950s)
PG : Cie des hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la marine et des chemins de fer à St-Chamond (anciens établissements Pétin-Gaudet), used by MAS until 1913.
P-M : Société métallurgique de l'Ariège, all factories since 1913. P-M is not used anymore in the 1950s, or under the form PM and for a different society, clearly not a steel provider.
SA : Société métallurgique de l'Ariège (MAS until 1913)
SC : Cie des hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la marine et des chemins de fer à St-Chamond (anciens établissements Pétin-Gaudet), used by MAT until 1913
SC : Cie des ateliers et forges de La Loire, usine de Saint-Chamond (probably the same factory in the 1950s)
SE : Cie des fonderies, forges et aciéries de Saint-Étienne (MAT until 1913)
SE : Cie des ateliers et forges de La Loire, usine de Saint-Étienne (may be the same factory but in the 1950s)
ST or S-T : S.A. des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries du Saut-du-Tarn, not used in the 1950s.
V : S.A. des aciéries et forges de Firminy (MAT before 1890)
V : S.A. des fonderies et laminoires de Biache St Wast (1950s)

Other Steel Suppliers known but not sure of the codes:
Montluçon
Le Creusot
Jeumont
St.Chamond, Rive-de-Gier (Marrel Frères)
Thionville

Supervising Officers and Final Inspectors of MAS

Here is an unofficial list of the French Supervising Officers called Directeur de Manufacture, Final Inspectors/Principal Arms called Contrôleur Généraux Principaux and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class Controllers called Contrôleur de 1ème, 2ème y 3 ème Classe that were either in charge or worked at Manufacture d'Armes de Saint Etienne commonly called MAS along with dates that they were there.
Note: Start dates are only available for the various controllers
You will see the controllers stamps called Contrôleur Poinçons on the barrels of weapons made at MAS in the form of two circle letter codes on the left side of the barrel or barrel flat on rifles and revolvers.
The first circled letter is that of the Supervising Officer, this is the one that is closest to the rear sight on rifles and on revolvers is the one closest to the frame.
The second circled letter is that of the Final Inspector/Principal Arms Controller, this is the one that is closest to the receiver on rifles and on revolvers is the one closest to the muzzle.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class controller stamps are used on the various pieces throughout the weapon.

Directeur de Manufacture
Commandant Briand ... 1856-1862
Lt.Colonel Jouffray, Charles ... 1862-1866
Col. Boigeol ... 1866-1873
Col. Maignien ... 1873-1891
Col. Percin ... 1891-1894
Lt.Col. Mourret ... 1894-1897
Lt.Col. Souffray ... 1897-1900
Col. Lefebvre ... 1900-1907
Col. Verneuil ... 1907-1912
Col. Chatain ... 1912-1915
Colonel Anus, Napoléon, Etienne ... 1915
Lt.Col. Charpy ... 1915-1918
Col.Stegens ... 1918-1924
Lt.Col. Berne ... 1924-1926
Gen. Gressier ... 1926-1934

Contrôleur Généraux Principaux
Jeuffroy ... (1864)
Tournier ... (1865)
Haillez ... (1866)
Combrade ... (1874)
Hourdiaux ... (1874)
Favarcq ... (1875)
Luneteau ... (1879)
Picot ... (1881)
Parent ... (1881)
Favarcq ... (1882)
Col. Robert ... (1882-1891) ... what is interesting is Col. Robert was not an Supervising Officer but a Final Inspector/Principal Arms Controller during the years 1882 to 1891, but his stamp appears quite often in place of the Supervising Officer one, which makes me believe he was more of influence on supervision of the armoury than a normal arms controller would have been
Note: I believe that from records Col. Maignien was very ill during this period and allowed Col. Roberts to run MAS

Contrôleurs de 1ème Classe
B ... Bisch, J (1863),(1875)
C ... Chevalier, H (1863)
C ... Close, J Th (1863),(1875)
B ... Bussières (1863),(1875)
B ... Birocha (1864)
C ... Combrade (1865)
P ... Picot, A (1866),(1875)
H ... Hourdiaux (1866)
H ... Hardy, F.S (1867),(1875)
P ... Parent, H.A (1869),(1875)
F ... Favarcq, J (1869)
C ... Close, J.T (1870),(1877)
G ... Girard, J (1870),(1879)
M ... Murgue (1872),(1878)
L ... Luneteau, (1872),(1875)
F ... Favarcq, P (1872)
B ... Bordes, C (1872),(1880)
A ... Antoine, J.V (1873),(1882)
B ... Bouysset (1873)
D ... Delmotte, H (1881)
D ... Dannesbuchier (1882)
P ... Parent, F.J (1882)

Contrôleurs de 2ème Classe
F ... Fastinger (1866),(1875)
V ... Vitrac (1866)
A ... Antoine, J.V (1867),(1875)
G ... Girolt (1868)
B ... Bouysset (1868),(1875)
L ... Labroye (1868),(1879)
D ... Dutranoy, A.A (1868),(1876)
B ... Broch (1869),(1878)
D ... Dego (1869),(1879)
B ... Betignies (1870),(1882)
C ... Cizeron (1870),(1883)
V ... Victori (1870)
D ... Desmoulins, P (1870)
G ... Guionneau (1870),(1881)
K ... Kuntz, F.F.G (1870),(1884)
K ... Keller, L (1873),(1883)
S ... Schmutz (1873)
G ... Girard, J (1875)
M ... Murgue (1875)
B ... Bordes, C (1875)
D ... Dannesbuchier (1875)
D ... Delmotte, H (1875)
M ... Moulinier (1875)
P ... Parent, F.J (1875)
L ... Lacroix, A (1875)
O ... Orioux (1876)
B ... Britsch (1884)
C ... Caille (1884)

Contrôleurs de 3ème Classe
L ... Labroye (1875)
D ... Dutranoy A.A (1875)
B ... Broch (1875)
D ... Dego (1875)
B ... Betignies (1875)
C ... Cizeron (1875)
V ... Victori (1875)
D ... Desmoulins, P (1875)
G ... Guinneau (1875)
K ... Kuntz, F.F.J (1875)
K ... Keller, L (1875)
S ... Schmutz (1875)
C ... Caille (1875)
B ... Britsch (1876)
L ... Lepiney, Ch.S (1877)
W ... Wayoff (1877)
R ... Rohr (1879)
H ... **** (1879)
R ... Robert, J.B (1880)
M ... Marquet (1880)
C ... Chatain (1881)
G ... Glass (1881)
B ... Bernard, P (1881)
C ... Chardonnet 91882)
R ... Rahire (1882)
V ... Vernhet (1883)
H ... Hamion (1884)

Supervising Officers and Final Inspectors of MIC and MAC

Here is an unofficial list of the French Supervising Officers called Directeur de Manufacture and Final Inspectors/Principal Arms called Contrôleur Généraux Principaux that were either in charge or worked at Manufacture Impériale/Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault commonly called MIC/MAC along with dates that they were there.
You will see the controllers stamps called Contrôleur Poinçons on the barrels of weapons made at MIC/MAC in the form of two circle letter codes on the left side of the barrel.
The first circled letter is that of the Supervising Officer, this is the one that is closest to the rear sight.
The second circled letter is that of the Final Inspector/Principal Arms Controller, this is the one that is closest to the receiver.

Directeur de Manufacture
Chef d'Escadron Nottret, Louis .... February 6, 1819 - October 5, 1830
Chef d'Escadron Raulin, Louis .... October 6, 1830 - August 19, 1834
Chef d'Escadron Colliot De La Hattays, Augustin, Mathurin .... August 20, 1834 - November 20, 1834
Chef d'Escadron Thoumas, Alexandre, François .... November 21, 1834 - October 10, 1837
Lt. Colonel Duport De Poncharra, Charles, Louis, César .... November 21, 1834 - October 10, 1837
Chef d'Escadron Goupil, Auguste, Jean .... August 23, 1839 - December 11, 1840
Chef d'Escadron Belmont, Antoine .... December 12, 1840 - December 8, 1841
Chef d'Escadron Arcelin, Charles, Elie .... December 9, 1841 - September 24, 1842
Lt. Colonel Gazan, Alexandre, Zacharie, Alexis, Nicolas .... September 25, 1842 - April 1, 1846
Chef d'Escadron Chicoyneau De Lavalette, Absinthe .... April 2, 1846 - March 21, 1848
Chef d'Escadron Masclet, Hyppolite, Joseph, Antoine .... March 22, 1848 - August 8, 1848
Chef d'Escadron Gaudin, François, Antoine, Aimé .... August 9, 1848 - December 20, 1849
Lt. Colonel Arcelin, Charles, Elie .... December 21, 1849 - August 20, 1852
Chef d'Escadron Fadates De St.- Georges, Augustin, Jacques .... August 21, 1852 - July 27, 1855
Lt. Colonel Mecquenem, Jean, Baptiste, Marie, Louis, Aimé .... July 28, 1855 - August 5, 1859
Chef d'Escadron Le Caruyer De Lainsecq, Ambroise, Charles, Eugène ....August 6, 1859 - March 30, 1862
Lt. Colonel Jouffray, Charles .... March 31, 1862 - September 14, 1862
Chef d'Escadron Durousseau De Fayolle, Guy, Hubert .... September 15, 1862 - March 1, 1873
Lt. Colonel Maldan, Paul, Charles, Raphaël .... March 2, 1873 - May 10, 1875
Chef d'Escadron Reallon, Jean, Paul, Joseph .... May 11, 1875 - December 18, 1883
Chef d'Escadron Duban, Pierre, Auguste, Sulpice .... December 19, 1883 - October 23, 1887
Lt. Colonel Langlois, Arthur .... October 24, 1887 - November 16, 1891
Chef d'Escadron Camps, Bonaventure, Joseph, François .... November 17, 1891 - December 29, 1896
Lt. Colonel Bauret, Jules, François, Joseph .... December 30, 1896 - December 29, 1902
Lt. Colonel Chateau, Louis, Marie, Edouard .... December 30, 1902 - April 19, 1904
Lt. Colonel Veyrines, François, Victor, Albert .... April 20, 1904 - March 23, 1908
Chef d'Escadron Anus, Napoléon, Etienne .... March 24, 1908 - September 24, 1909
Lt. Colonel Franiatte, Marie, Lucien, Adolphe, Nicolas .... September 25, 1909 - April 22, 1914
Lt. Colonel Jacquot, Marc, René .... April 23, 1914 - May 8, 1924
Lt. Colonel Viry, Pierre .... May 9, 1924 - August 3, 1932
Colonel Aymard, Joseph, Antoine .... August 4, 1932 - January 11, 1934
Lt. Colonel Carre, Emile, François, Joseph .... January 12, 1934 - May 17, 1937
IMC-2 Jeantrel, Henri, Eugène .... May 18, 1937 - April 24, 1939
IMC-2 Vergnaud, Lucien, Léon .... April 25, 1939 - ????
IMC-1 Brisorgueil, Jean, Henri, Toussaint .... October 5, 1944 - April 30, 1951
IMC-2 Rabbe, Louis .... May1, 1951 - May 31, 1953
IMC-2 Nardin, Pierre, Marie, Louis .... June 1, 1953 - August 31, 1955
IMC-1 Cibaud, Gaston .... September 1, 1955 - July 31, 1960
IMC Pourquie, Louis, Marius .... August 1, 1960 - August 31, 1964
IMC Rebillard, Jacques, Adrien, Jean .... September 1, 1964 - 1968
Contrôleur Généraux Principaux
Wiedemann, Simon .... 1829 - 1843
Cazamajou, Pierre .... 1832 - 1843
Deschazaux, Augustin .... 1839 - 1854
Dombert, Louis .... 1844 - 1847
Bisch, Joseph .... 1844 - 1860
Chassepot, Pierre .... 1848 - 1854
Lelong, François .... 1855 - 1869
Perrichon, César .... 1855 - 1866
Bregnier, François .... 1860 - 1864
Bisch, François .... 1861 - 1863
Bisch, Grégoire .... 1864 - 1869
Boulanger, Charles .... 1866 - 1867
Trouvé, Jules .... 1866
Puivarges, Pierre .... 1867 - 1869
Cornevin, Louis .... 1870 - 1874
Meyer, Maurice .... 1870 - 1872
Dutranoy, Jean - Baptiste .... 1870 - 1871
Steck, Sébastien .... 1873 - 1887
Brenier, Jean - Marie .... 1874 - 1893
Robert, Etienne .... 1878 - 1879
Verdin, Louis .... 1879 - 1887
Schmitt, François .... 1884 - 1893
Chadelin, Léonard .... 1887 - 1891
Dutranoy, Alfred .... 1888 - 1900 (1)
Hochwelker, François .... 1889 - 1899
Sedelene, Léonard .... 1891 - 1893
Chouard, Michel .... 1892 - 1900 (1)
Caille, Adrien .... 1893 - 1900 (1)
Gabilla, Célestin .... 1897 - 1900 (1)
Close, Albert .... 1899 - 1900 (1)

(1) .... This is final year that I have any information on Contrôleur Généraux Principaux


MAT Directors
1883-1889 : Commandant Jules BOURDON ((B))
1889-1892 : Frédéric LUSSON ((L))
1892-1895 : Jean DELSOL (D)
1896-1897 : Michel ABAULT
1897-1899 : Michel AUBRON
1899-1906 : Victor BONAMY (B)
1906-1911 : Maurice HAUVETTE
1909-1911 : David BLOCH
1911-1914 : Gustave PAYEUR
1914-1917 : Louis JOURDAN (J)
1917-1923 : François BARES (B)
1923-1929 : Louis CLAUDOT
1929-1934 : Charles KARCHER ou HARCHER
1934-1939 : Charles BRION (B)
1939-1941 : Ingénieur Militaire Germain PIC
1941-1942 : Ingénieur Militaire Georges MONTLAUR
1941-1943 : Fernand MAGDALENA
1944-1945 : Ingénieur Militaire Pierre MONTEIL
1945-1950 : Ingénieur Militaire François DELAMAIRE
1950-1953 : Louis CARRE
1953-1956 : Maurice FRANCILLON
1956-1964 : Lucien DERUELLE
1964-1971 : Pierre LEVIEUX
1971 : Albert BONNOTTE


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Reply author: 1886lebel
Replied on: 10/31/2005 11:58:33 PM
Message:

How to Read and Understand the Different Letters and Number Codes on a Lebel and Berthier


Barrel Information
On the left side of the barrel is found the serial number which is preceded by a cursive script letter. Each of the different Manufacture Nationale de Armes were issued different letters for each of the blocks of firearms that was to be made by that particular armory. Once a block of numbers, 100,000, was used they moved on to the next letter and so forth until they got to the last letter block assigned to them then they started back with the first letter but added a second letter to it usually the second letter assigned to them. The armories were assigned the following letters:

1. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault (MAC) ... A,B,C,D,E
2. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint Etienne (MAS) ... F,G,H,J,K,L,M,N,P,Q
3. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle (MAT) ... R,S,T,U,V

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The WW1 contracted commercial companies were usually given letters in block letters but they also used the cursive script letters as well on thier serial numbers (see below for information)

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Right above the serial number at a 45 degree angle is either a one or two block letter code that shows which private manufacturing firms, called the pourvoyeur de acier, provided the steel for the barrel. Here is a listing of some of the different steel suppliers that have been acquired so far and the codes used by different armories for the steel suppliers:

Bedel Pere ses fils et Cie ... MAC and MAT: B MAS: AB
Companie des forges de Châtillon, Gemmentry and Menses-Maisons ... MAC, MAS and MAT: C or CC
Holtser (Jacob) et Cie à Unieux ... MAC, MAS and MAT: JH
Société anonyme des aciéries et forges de Ferminy (formerly called The Verdié Co), Ferminy ... MAC: V or FV MAS: FV MAT: V(1) F(2)
Compagnie des hauts fournaisses, forges et aciéries de fer à Saint Chamond (formerly Patin-Gaudet Co.) ... MAC: M MAS: PG MAT: S
Compagnie des fonderies, forges et aciéries de Saint Etienne ... MAS: AS MAT: SE
Société Mérallergique de l’Ariego ... MAS: SA MAT: AB
Chambon-Feugerolles (Claudinon et Cie) ... MAT: CD
Forges et aciéries de Moulin ( F. Levinson et F. Benché) ( F. Loeison ??? en Chambon Fougerolles) ... MAS: I, B or L MAT: L
Schneider-Canet et Cie en Creusot ... MAS: SC
Société anonyme des hauts fourneaux, forges et aciéries du Saut du Tarn ... MAS: ST
Société anonyme des hauts forneaux forges et aciéries de Denain et Ansin, à Denain ... MAS: D or DN
Compagnie des aciérs Boehler (de Styria) [In Austria] ... MAS: BR
Acier de Finspong (Sweden) ... MAS: F(3)

(1) Before January 1, 1890
(2) After January 1, 1890
(3) On barrels made starting in 1890

Next to the steel suppliers code are two circled block letters that show who the various controllers were at the time of the manufacture of the weapon. These stamps are called the Contrôleur Poinçons. The first is the Supervising Officer, Directeur de Manufacture, who was in charge of that armory and the second was the Final Inspectors or Principal Arms Controller, Contrôleur Généraux Principaux.

Directeur de Manufacture de MAS
Col. Maignien ... 1873-1891
Col. Percin ... 1891-1894
Lt.Col. Mourret ... 1894-1897
Lt.Col. Souffray ... 1897-1900
Col. Lefebvre ... 1900-1907
Col. Verneuil ... 1907-1912
Col. Chatain ... 1912-1915
Col. Anus ... 1915
Lt.Col. Charpy ... 1915-1918
Col.Stegens ... 1918-1924
Lt.Col. Berne ... 1924-1926
Gen. Gressier ... 1926-1934
Col. Robert ... 1882-1891 ... what is interesting is Col. Robert was not an Supervising Officer but a Final Inspector/Principal Arms Controller during the years 1882 to 1891, but his stamp appears quite often in place of the Supervising Officer one, which makes me believe he was more of influence on supervision of the armory than a normal arms controller would have been
Note: I believe that from records Col. Maignien was very ill during this period and allowed Col. Roberts to run MAS

Directeur de Manufacture de MAC
Chef d'Escadron Duban, Pierre, Auguste, Sulpice .... December 19, 1883 - October 23, 1887
Lt. Colonel Langlois, Arthur .... October 24, 1887 - November 16, 1891
Chef d'Escadron Camps, Bonaventure, Joseph, François .... November 17, 1891 - December 29, 1896
Lt. Colonel Bauret, Jules, François, Joseph .... December 30, 1896 - December 29, 1902
Lt. Colonel Chateau, Louis, Marie, Edouard .... December 30, 1902 - April 19, 1904
Lt. Colonel Veyrines, François, Victor, Albert .... April 20, 1904 - March 23, 1908
Chef d'Escadron Anus, Napoléon, Etienne .... March 24, 1908 - September 24, 1909
Lt. Colonel Franiatte, Marie, Lucien, Adolphe, Nicolas .... September 25, 1909 - April 22, 1914
Lt. Colonel Jacquot, Marc, René .... April 23, 1914 - May 8, 1924
Lt. Colonel Viry, Pierre .... May 9, 1924 - August 3, 1932
Colonel Aymard, Joseph, Antoine .... August 4, 1932 - January 11, 1934
Lt. Colonel Carre, Emile, François, Joseph .... January 12, 1934 - May 17, 1937

Directeur de Manufacture de MAT
No information at this time

Établissement Delaunay-Belleville
This manufacturer only used a one letter code in a circle on its barrels, the letter S, which happened to be the controller in charge of reception ... Contrôleur chargé de la réception

Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Paris au Saint Denis
They did not use any Contrôleur Poinçons on thier barrels

Manufacture Parisienne d'Armes et de Mécanique Générale
No information at this time

On the right side of the barrel is found a three letter code that shows who made the barrel and the date the barrel was made. Here is a listing of the different manufactures of the barrels seen so far:

1. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint Etienne .... MAS
2. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault .... MAC
3. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle .... MAT
4. Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Paris au Saint Denis .... MAP
5. Établissement Delaunay-Belleville .... EDB
6. Manufacture Parisienne d'Armes et de Mécanique Générale .... MPA
7. Remington Arms Corporation ... RAC

Underneath the barrel you will see many different codes and letters that were used for a varity of reasons that are unknown to us at this time, but the most important ones you will see are the two big E's with crowns that signify the weapons proofing called the Epreuve. The uppermost one is the primary proof of the steel and the other one is the final proof of the assembled weapon followed by a large number which told you the month that it was accomplished. Just above the Epreuve stamps is the stamp of the controller who proofed them which were usually the 2nd or 3rd class controllers, Contrôleurs de 2ème Classe et 3ème Classe.


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Reply author: 1886lebel
Replied on: 11/01/2005 12:01:57 AM
Message:

How to Read and Understand the Different Letters and Number Codes on a Lebel and Berthier Part 2

Receiver
On the left side of the receiver you will see who manufactured that particular receiver in cursive script and in block letters or cursive script the different model designation for that weapon. The model designation particularly on Berthiers does not always correspond to the type of weapon it may actually be at its present time, sometimes these were scubbed out and a new designation was added. The different model designations you will see on the receivers are as follows:

Mle.1886
Mle.1886 M93
Mle.1886 R35
Mle.1886 M93 M.27
Mle.1890
Mle.1892
Mle.1902
Mle.1907
Mle.1907-15
Mle.M.16
Mle.1907-15 M.34

You will also sometimes see on the left side of the receiver on some Berthier Fusils, Carabines et Mousquetons right at the end of the model designation the following letters ... MD Modifié Desaleux which signified that the weapons sights were modified to the Cartouche à Balle Mle.1898 D commonly called Balle D.
You also might encounter some various letters such as PK on these weapons and at this time we have no clue as to thier meaning.

Note: At this time there is no way to date the receiver of a weapon other than what is encountered on the barrel.

Stock
On the right side of the butt-stock you will find the stock cartouche, which is enclosed in a circle and if still visable it is read in the following manner:
At the 12 a clock position is the month that the weapon was accepted by the Comité de la Réception, at 4 a clock is the Contrôleur Généraux Principaux code, at 6 clock position is the year the weapon was accepted by the Comité de la Réception, at the 8 a clock position is the Directeur de Manufacture, at the 9 a clock position is the letter perfix of the arsenal that completed the weapon. In the center of the cartouche are the letters MA which meant Manufacture d'Armes

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Other Various Letters and Codes
You might encounter the following after the barrel date in the form of either an N Nouveau or a T Transformé which meant that the barrel was replaced during WW1 or after. Basically what they did was they made a large amount of new barrels during the Great War stamped them on the right side with MA then either a C, S or T, left the date blank and the N or T. Serial numbers and the Contrôleur Poinçons were also left blank but the pourvoyeur de acier was marked. When a weapon was re-built they then stamped the correct information into the blank areas ... this is why we see weapons that have dates out of the production run. You will encounter this alot on weapons dated 1916 and up.
Sometimes on the top of the receiver ring and barrel you will see a capital N stamped on the top of them which meant that the weapon was converted to fire the later Cartouche Mle.1932 or commonly called Balle N.

Numbering
On Lebels the bolt, carrier plate, stock, and forearm were numbered to the serial number on the barrel while the bolthead had the last two numbers of the serial number of the weapon on it.
On Berthiers the bolt, triggerguard, cleaning rod (if they had one) and stock were numbered to the serial number on the barrel while the bolthead had the last two numbers of the serial number of the weapon on it.

I have tried to give a little information on how to read your Lebels and Berthiers but more research is needed in the different codes and such, as most of this information was destroyed during WW2. I hope this helps a bit though but if you still need help on what your particular weapons codes mean please ask and we will be glad to help.
 
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