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View Full Version : Need HELP from experts - has this Beretta been re-blued?


j-framer
November 23, 2008, 10:12 PM
Dear friends,

I encountered this Beretta model 1919 for auction on Gunbroker and was struck by its apparent excellent condition.

The condition of the finish is so good that it led me to suspect it has been re-blued. Could any knowledgeable individuals visit the link below and render a verdict, or even an informed opinion? I know some of the photos are rather dark.

Here is the link to the Beretta:

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=116901088

I'd much appreciate any assistance in determining whether this gun has its original finish. But, once again (and I'm not trying to discourage people from posting), please be reasonably confident in your ability to accurately tell a re-blue, because the opinions I receive here may very well determine whether I bid on this item or not.

Thanks in advance to everyone!

Tidewater_Kid
November 23, 2008, 10:24 PM
I can't tell for sure. My opinion is that it's either been touched up or refinished. I of course could be wrong. Very nice pistol. I only own the G-27 knock-off.

TK

Chipperman
November 23, 2008, 10:26 PM
Difficult to tell from the pics, but I don't think it was redone.

When trying to find a reblue job, you want to look for:
1. absence of wear
2. pitting, scratches, or dings UNDER the finish
3. SNs and writing that appear partially filled or faint

This one shows wear on the edges, the SN/writing appears sharp, and there are a few visible scratches. If it WAS redone it was a long time ago.

I'd say the first thing to do is ask the seller. Hopefully he will be up front if it was redone. I don't think it was, though.

j-framer
November 23, 2008, 10:57 PM
Thank you both for your replies! Please, everyone, keep them coming!

Chipperman said:

Difficult to tell from the pics, but I don't think it was redone.

When trying to find a reblue job, you want to look for:
1. absence of wear
2. pitting, scratches, or dings UNDER the finish
3. SNs and writing that appear partially filled or faint

This one shows wear on the edges, the SN/writing appears sharp, and there are a few visible scratches. If it WAS redone it was a long time ago.

I see what you mean. You know, I'm looking at the photos, and in some of them, the finish looks quite convincingly original (to my novice eyes), and in others (like the shot of the backstrap), it looks redone to me.

I'm really agonizing over this, because if I could be sure that the finish is original, I would bid. But I would definitely not be interested in an old gun that does not have its factory finish. I do have a week to investigate before the auction ends, so I'm hoping to get as many educated opinions as possible.

I'd say the first thing to do is ask the seller. Hopefully he will be up front if it was redone. I don't think it was, though.

As a matter of fact, I did ask him and he said he wasn't 100% certain, but he thought it had been refinished. Which puts me pretty much right where I started.

CardiacKid74
November 24, 2008, 11:28 AM
I am a QC Manager at a black oxide company. What Chipperman said is right on with looking for marks or dings that are blued. One thing I have found is digital photos can makes things look better and also worse than what is actually there. All depends on lighting. Black images vary with digital photography. It looks to be in great shape. I would say its been touched up with a cold black process just by the barrel condition.

j-framer
November 24, 2008, 04:50 PM
I am a QC Manager at a black oxide company. What Chipperman said is right on with looking for marks or dings that are blued. One thing I have found is digital photos can makes things look better and also worse than what is actually there. All depends on lighting. Black images vary with digital photography. It looks to be in great shape. I would say its been touched up with a cold black process just by the barrel condition.

Thanks, Cardiac. Seems like opinions are about evenly divided. Based on what you all are saying so far, I'm not feeling too confident in bidding on this gun.

Maybe I should ask the seller of the Beretta to take a few photos of the gun in daylight if it's not too much trouble for him. He does mention in the item description to "just ask" if more photos are desired.

I hope that some more opinions are offered this evening. It would be great to hear the thoughts of Tamara, Jim Keenan or Bill DeShivs on this matter, if any of you three happen by.

Tamara
November 24, 2008, 05:04 PM
In my professional opinion, and only going by the photos at hand, I would say the gun has been refinished.

Note:
1) The slightly "plum" color to the slide in some of the photos.
2) The rounded edges on the seam around the striker block when looking at the gun from the rear.
3) The slightly obliterated s/n on the slide, most noticeable in the last digit. ("5")

I'd say that the gun has been hit with a buffing wheel at some point in its life.

(Also, rule #1 when bidding up a collectible gun: If your spider sense tingles at all, your spider sense is probably right. ;) There will always be another gun.)

HKuser
November 24, 2008, 10:27 PM
Ditto, absence of wear in the right places (there's always some) says reblue. Also, rear of the trigger looks like some covered pitting.

j-framer
November 24, 2008, 11:50 PM
Tamara said:

In my professional opinion, and only going by the photos at hand, I would say the gun has been refinished.

Note:
1) The slightly "plum" color to the slide in some of the photos.
2) The rounded edges on the seam around the striker block when looking at the gun from the rear.
3) The slightly obliterated s/n on the slide, most noticeable in the last digit. ("5")

I'd say that the gun has been hit with a buffing wheel at some point in its life.

(Also, rule #1 when bidding up a collectible gun: If your spider sense tingles at all, your spider sense is probably right. There will always be another gun.)

I'm grateful for your help, Tamara. Another nail in the coffin (given your experience and knowledge, I'd say a 12-penny at least :o).

HKuser said:

Ditto, absence of wear in the right places (there's always some) says reblue. Also, rear of the trigger looks like some covered pitting.

The left side of the trigger did look a little funny to me.

Ain't looking good, folks. I have to say I won't be bidding on this one.

You know, considering the published production figures for the Beretta 1919, it seems strange to me that they aren't more common. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places :confused:. Additionally, nearly all of the few that do surface seem very well worn - which doesn't put me off if the wear is even and some measure of eye appeal is preserved, but many are downright dinged and scratched.

Hope a reasonably nice one comes my way.

Thanks to everybody for your help! (And if anyone else wishes to contribute, please do so).

hejlman
November 25, 2008, 12:04 AM
It does look reblued and if you look closely it seems to be corroding (pitting)in some places.

James K
November 25, 2008, 12:12 AM
Of course it has been reblued and it is not even a very good job, plus the gun was a mess before being polished!

Just look at the pic with the slide serial number; not only is the surface uneven, but the numbers are partially blurred, and the corners rounded. Plus Beretta used rust blue at that time and the gun was reblued using hot tank blue.

I could go on but there would be no point.

The gun is rare enough that if you could get it at a reasonable price (say $150) it would be worth buying, IMHO, and maybe using as trading stock if you encounter a better one. But at $300+ you would have to need a collection filler pretty bad.

Jim

j-framer
November 25, 2008, 01:44 AM
Many thanks. I appreciate the help.

Wildalaska
November 25, 2008, 01:55 AM
Another for the clear evidence of a reblue

WildialwysfollowtamarasleadAlaska TM

James K
November 25, 2008, 06:26 PM
I don't know what is wrong (or right) with me. I can spot reblues about every time, even in bad pictures. Same with re-nickel jobs.

At a gun show on Saturday, I spotted what looked, from 10 feet away, to be a nice full nickel S&W Baby Russian. When I had it in hand, it was obviously re-nickeled. I handed it back and the dealer asked if I wanted it. I said no, and that it was re-nickeled. He immediately denied that and informed me that the finish was original and that I didn't know much about guns.

Maybe not, but at the risk of helping the fakers and humpers, if you are going to polish a gun with a sideplate, polish the frame and sideplate together. Otherwise, you get a "dip" and even a gap where the sideplate meets the frame. The factory finish is perfectly flat, with no dip, and the gap will be almost invisible.

At another recent show, I saw a very nice Gen 1 SAA. I didn't even examine it closely, and asked the seller who did it. He didn't bother to deny the "restoral", just said he didn't know the restorer. There were two tip offs there - no calliber marking on the barrel, and small cylinder notches. The latter are very obvious and come about when the cylinder is turned down. The cylinder notches are a half-moon cut and when the cylinder diameter is reduced the length of the notches is reduced. That plus the excess gaps between the cylinder and the frame, show a turned cylinder and that makes the whole gun suspect.

Just a few tips on what to look for.

Jim

Tamara
November 25, 2008, 07:34 PM
Maybe not, but at the risk of helping the fakers and humpers, if you are going to polish a gun with a sideplate, polish the frame and sideplate together. Otherwise, you get a "dip" and even a gap where the sideplate meets the frame. The factory finish is perfectly flat, with no dip, and the gap will be almost invisible.

Word. Jim speaks Truth.

In the exemplar Beretta, look at the rear view. See the circular stop for the striker spring and the little valley where it meets the slide? That's the inevitable artifact of the buffing wheel on a disassembled pistol...

On old Smith topbreaks, another dead giveaway is a nickeled (or blued) hammer and trigger. These parts were case-colored originally; no need to even pick one up for closer examination if they are not.

j-framer
November 25, 2008, 09:20 PM
Good information to have. I've only been seriously interested in C&R handguns for about a year now, and I'm trying to educate myself about what to watch out for when shopping for collectible pieces (no Krieghoff lugers :) or suchlike, but just those old guns that are affordable for me yet interesting from an historical viewpoint).

Tamara said:

On old Smith topbreaks, another dead giveaway is a nickeled (or blued) hammer and trigger. These parts were case-colored originally; no need to even pick one up for closer examination if they are not.

It's nice to have a sure-fire way of telling a refinish, at least on those particular guns. From what I understand, a related "tell" applies to the factory nickel finish of the little FN 1905 .25 pocket pistols - the trigger and safety were in the blue originally. I recently encountered a totally (re-) nickeled 1905 whose owner didn't volunteer the information that that the nickel was not the factory finish (maybe he didn't know). Fortunately for me, I was in that case sufficiently informed not to spend the $400.00 he was asking for a non-original specimen.

I heartily wish people would leave these old guns alone. Most of those that get refinished are destined to be left out in the cold by collectors and others who would value them - though I guess some find good homes with those who want a shooter or simply don't place importance on originality.

James K
November 26, 2008, 12:44 PM
I have to express some divided feelings. I have polished and reblued many guns that were in such poor condition that they had essentially no value. I like to think that when I was done the gun looked much better and had at least a shooter value.

There are a lot of tricks to rebluing.

First, I am not talking about a full, expensive restoration. Full restoration by someone like Turnbull is justified only when the gun is of such rarity and in such condition that its value can only be enhanced even with the fact of its restoration known and acknowledged. Restoration for the purpose of fraud, to pass the gun off as original at the price of an original, is a crime, literally and figuratively.

But a so-so gun, well worn and/or with rust, can often be improved by a good reblue job. The most critical item is the polishing, of which some mention has been made. In polishing, the most common mistake is to polish too much. The old time gunsmith books urged imparting a "mirror finish" in polishing, using the finest grit compounds available. Some people do like that finish, and companies like Weatherby have used it.

But in most cases, if the gun is to look anywhere near original, a high polish won't do. Factories simply do not polish that well. Far from a 1000 or finer grit equivalent, most factories used closer to 600 or even 300 grit. Some, in wartime, would get the equivalent of 60-80 grit, just enough to clean up tool burrs. Anyone doubting this can use blue remover instead of an abrasive wheel and look at the surface under the blue for the factory finish.

With the proper polishing, various types of bluing can be simulated in the hot tank. A coarser grit can emulate rust blue, for example. The key is light refraction, where a finish can appear blue, or black or brown depending on the light. In a dark room, turn a Maglite on your prized 1900-era Luger and you will scream as it looks like it is covered with brown rust. That is the way rust blue reacts to that type of light.

A buffing wheel used improperly can easily round corners, blur markings and "dish" pin and screw holes, so at times draw filing or polishing the gun on a glass plate covered with emery cloth is a good approach. Factories use hard wheels, specially shaped to the part being polished, so those problem are reduced or eliminated. (Yes, factories sometimes turn out dished holes, but it is not common.)

Sorry, folks, but this is getting too long and I have some other stuff to do.

Jim

j-framer
November 26, 2008, 04:54 PM
Sorry, folks, but this is getting too long and I have some other stuff to do.

I understand, but be assured that I really enjoy reading about these sorts of things. Thanks to you (and the others) for everything that you've shared already - very interesting and informative.