Unceta Esperanza Y Cia
Unceta Esperanza Y Cia Model 1911 "Victoria" with French import marks: 1912: By the early twentieth century there were many companies in the Basque region of Northern Spain making firearms. Foreign patents were not enforced at that time in Spain, so many of the guns produced were copies of patented designs from other countries.
One of the most widely copied guns was the 25 calibre FN Browning 1906, and in Spain they many scaled-up copies in 32 calibre.
One of the better guns of this sort, produced in Spain before World War One, was the Model 1911 Victoria made by Esperanza y Unceta, the company that was to become Astra Unceta.
The two features which best mark it as a product of Esperanza y Unceta are the EU on the magazine, and the word "Hope" on the bolt. Esperanza is Spanish for Hope and this mark has been noted on other Unceta products, even into the Astra era.
Interestingly, the gun is also marked along the top of the slide in very small letters "Manufacture d’Armes et de Cycles St. Etienne", suggesting that the St Etienne firm imported and marketed this Spanish pistol in pre-World War one France.
Roger papke (USA)
Unceta Esperanza Y Cia
Here is a very unusual revolver, probably "one-of-a-kind", but actually made by the well-known Spanish firm, Unceta (later Astra, I believe).
It has a very unique and rather complicated mechanism that ejects the spent cartridges as the gun is fired and the cylinder turns. If you place a finger behind the extracting mechanism and pull the trigger your finger feels a sharp hit. I was only able to partially extract a 32 Long Colt cartridge, but it was not a spent shell which would have been much lighter and probably would have flown backwards. There is also a lever that can be lifted which blocks the shells from being extracted while the cylinder turns this in case one would want to retain the spent cartridges within the chambers.
I cannot find this particular revolver in any book or reference I have. I assume that it was manufactured some time after 1908 when the Esperanza y Unceta Company was formed.
I don't know when the name Astra Unceta took over as Company name, but that would give us an outside date after which this particular revolver would not have been manufactured.
I am aware of the Spanish practice of stamping assembly numbers on different parts of the same gun. This revolver has the number one stamped on several of its parts. I wonder if that is just an assembly number, or if perhaps this is the first and only copy of this unusual revolver, thus the #1 could have another meaning or purpose other than assembly.
Here is the information I have on this revolver:
Spanish "Unceta" DA Revolver, cal: 8mm (32 Long Colt fits) , serial #1(?) barrel 86mm long, overall length 185mm
Marks: left frame under grip - crown/B? Right frame under grip – 1. Rear of cylinder – 1. On post ahead of action – 1. Under rear of barrel – 1. On top of barrel - E. Unceta y Ca Eibar. On bridge - El Rayo
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