By Larry B. Schuknecht
In 1876 Hermann Burgsmüller began manufacturing firearms in a small combination shop and residence at Bahnhofstrasse 2 in Kreiensen. The firm was known then as “H. Burgsmüller, Gewehrfabrik Kreiesen”. The town of Kreiesen am Harz lies half way between Hanover and Kassel and is the juncture of Railway lines running east-west (the Brunswick State Railway) and north-south (Hannoverian-Prusian State Railway). This was an ideal location to set up a shop which quickly became a major manufacturer and also a dealer of guns made by others.
Twenty two years later in 1898 the firm moved to a larger building as business prospered. In 1905 Hermann’s son Karl became Manager of the Company and the Company name was changed to “H. Burgsmüller & Söhne” In 1906 the firm again moved to the present location at Hainbergstrasse 1. In 1929 the firm name again changed to “H. Burgsmüller & Sohne GmbH”. It is said that during the first World War Burgsmüller was a major producer of armament for the German Army. They even held a patent for a trench mortar. In the late 1930’s the Company began designing and Patented specialized machinery for firearms production. Eventually this became the sole focus of the company and the gun department was shut down altogether in 1990 when the Company was aquired by the Herman Berstorff Machinery GmbH of Hannover.
W. Voss and Haselhorst & Co.
In 2008 my friend Axel Eichendorff wrote the following in response to inquiries about the following names.
“After the end of World war I in 1918 all major German Arms factories had to lay off most of thier workers. Under the provisions of the Versailles “Peace” treaty only one weapons factory, Simson, was allowed to produce Arms. All other “name” factories until the mid 1920’s existed under close supervision of allied disarmament commissions and the fear of being expropriated by them. Small, pure sporting no-name gun makers did not suffer such stringent controls.”
“William Voss opened a shop in 1919. He even published a catalog appearing like an abbreviated carbon copy of a pre-war Burgsmüller catalog. He is last mentioned in 1940. Perhaps he was one of those Burgsmüller workers forced to live on their own after 1918; or perhaps “W. Voss” was only a brand name used by Burgsmüller, like Glenfield by Marlin?”
“The story of “Haselhorst & Co., Harzer Waffenindustrie (Hercynian Arms Industry) is more clear by now: Mr. Haselhorst was the father-in-law of one of the Burgsmüllers, and the “Co.” was the Burgsmüller family! So it was nothing more than a brand name or mock company, created to disguise the fact of Burgsmüllers were producing and exporting sporting guns again. Haselhorst & Co. is documented for 1922 and 1924, according to family lore after only about 5 years there was no longer any reason for it’s existence and it was liguidated. “
The Burgsmüller Co. was innovative from the very beginning and starting in 1900 began patenting their developments. Their patents include-
DRP111209 of June 8, 1900 a lock with two inside hammers
DRP152781 of June 17, 1904 a Bolt Action
DRP182237 of April 11, 1907 a Semi Automatic Hand Gun Barrel Assembly
DRP305154 of June 29, 1920 a Mortar
DRP375697 of May 17, 1923 a Diopter Sight
DRP386116 of Dec. 4, 1923 an Air Pistol
DRP439678 of Jan. 15, 1927 a Sub Caliber Insert Barrel
DRP491539 of July 18, 1936 a Vierling Barrel Assembly
The Burgsmüller Co. not only developed and manufactured firearms but also specialized in the precision machinery to manufacture them. A machine for deep hole drilling was one of the many machines and DRP76138 of Nov. 8, 1951 was for a Deep Hole Drill Bit and DRP959998 of March 14, 1957 for Loose Chip management?
The Burgsmüller Co. advertised heavily in foreign publications, especially those in Africa and South America. The following advertisements are just a few.