Tag Archives: SMS Von Der Tann

Von Der Tann’s Volcanic

So this just surfaced at an upcoming auction by Milestone. 

SERIAL NUMBER 1738. BARREL 6″. CALIBER .41. The Volcanic lever-action repeating pistol was made by Volcanic Arms in New Haven after the original pistols made by Smith & Wesson. Made circa 1855-1857. Standard features include a factory engraved brass frame, two-piece walnut grips with square butt, blued octagon barrel and tube, ring lever, wind drift rear sight, and bead front. Condition. Superb, 95% smooth blue patina on barrel, legends sharp, crisp engraving on the frame, excellent grips, the frame never cleaned. Fine working order. The bore is near mint. A wonderful condition one-of-a-kind historic German presentation Volcanic.

This is where this pistol gets both interesting and possibly one of less than a handful ever presented to a foreign dignitary or power. The Volcanic Arms patent New Haven stamp is clearly placed on top of barrel. On the right side of the barrel, engraved and silver inlaid is “ZUR ERINNERUNG AN EXC.” which translates “to be remembered.”

On right side is engraved and silver inlay “General v.d. Tann 26 iv 1881.” Ludwig von der Tann’s death date

Ludwig Freiherr von der Tann (1815-1881), Hanfstaengl, Fotographie ca. 1860, Hintergrund mit Aquarellfarben übermalt

Born in Waterloo, Ludwig Samson Heinrich Arthur Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen, best just known as Von Der Tann, started his military career in 1833.

Promoted to major in 1848, he was well connected with Bavarian Crown Prince Maximilian who soon became king. He was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle by the king of Prussian during the war with Denmark. Tann served Bavaria in the Austro-Prussian war then was promoted to the rank of general in 1869 and commanded troops during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.

Naval history buffs, of course, will recognize the name from the unique battlecruiser that carried the general’s name. The fastest battlewagon in the world when she was commissioned, the 21,000 ton SMS Von Der Tann was mauled at Jutland and later scrapped at Scapa Flow in 1919. Her construction sparked the growth of the evolutionary dead-end Invincible-class battlecruisers and similar vessels.

While the battlecruiser was raised by the British and scrapped, and the late general himself is entombed at the Alter Nordfriedhof in Munich, at least his pistol is up for grabs. The estimate for it is $7,500-$9,500.