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Throughout history, Europeans have made landfall from their ships bearing firearms, colonizing the New World and enslaving Africans. Many of the weapons used in Europe's historical conquests were early handguns.
Primitive wick-lit European sidearms gave way to matchlock systems, which led to wheelock, and then flintlock mechanisms. Later, Colt and Smith & Wesson American revolver development closely mirrored that of 19th-century British gunsmith Robert Adams and firearms producers Webley & Scott.
The turn of the century brought with it an increasing reliance on semi-automatics, and European manufacturers like Walther and Luger became household names. Czech Bohmische's CZ line of pistols became heavily relied upon. Belgian gunmaker FN Herstal, producer of the FN Model 1910 pistol, also developed successful European handguns including the Browning Hi-Power. In the latter part of the 20th century, Italy's Beretta, Austria's Glock, and Germany's Sig Sauer and Heckler & Koch came into their own.
Auctions are sources of a range of European handguns. Available at auction are sidearms by lesser known and short-lived producers as well as pistols by prominent world-class brands.
In 2014, an important presentation-cased Luger pistol with an oak leaf-engraved ivory grip sold at a James D. Julia sale for $86,250
A historic Salvator-Dormus Model M1896 Austrian military test 9 mm sold at a 2014 James D. Julia auction for $31,625
In 2013, a Nazi-marked FN Herstal Belgian Browning Hi-Power 9 mm pistol sold at a Lock, Stock & Barrel auction for $1,036
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