I noticed this picture of an unknown Austrian, in the early days of the first World War, adapting a group of Mauser C-96 pistols for the early air combat.
The photo brought back the days when I was pushing brooms – George H.W. Bush was president, and one of the items of exchange with China was Mauser Broomhandle pistols. The serial numbers were mismatched, the bores were corroded past having any rifling, the grips were usually past recovery – but there was a machinist in Washington who would ream the old barrels out to 9mm, and cut rifling into them, for less than $100. New grips were available, well made and about 15 bucks. A little polishing and bluing chemicals, and I was selling brooms for $450 – and half the price was return to labor and investment.
It was a great enterprise – but when I went to expand, to corner the market on all of China’s rusty broomhandles, I met with protests from both my wife and my father – “Michael, they’re so ugly.” I explained the economics of becoming Trego’s Broomhandle king – but before I could convince wife and father of my brilliant grasp of business opportunity, Bill Clinton became President, and the rusted-out broomhandles were banned from importation along with the AK-47s. I didn’t save any. Watching the auctions, I suspect those mismatched broomhandle Mausers are centerpieces to several collections now.