This is a FN/Browning M1900 with an extremely low serial number. It is chambered in 7.65mm (.32ACP) and wears military issue style grips (one side cracked) instead of the more common commercial variation. It also features the original holster. Item is in very good condition for its age.
The FN Browning M1900 is a single action, semi-automatic pistol designed c. 1896 by John Browning for Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN) and produced in Belgium at the turn of the century. It was the first production handgun to use a slide.
The design was presented to arms manufacturer FN Herstal in 1898, with production commencing the following year (then under the designation Modele 1899). In 1900, an improved design featuring primarily a shorter barrel and wider grips was introduced as the M1900. These designations were applied retroactively after FN began manufacture of other Browning pistol designs; initially the M1900 was marketed as simply the “Pistolet Browning” (Browning Pistol). Production ceased only 11 years later, with a total of about 700,000 units having been produced.
United States President Theodore Roosevelt owned a mother of pearl-gripped M1900, which he regularly kept on his person and in his bedside drawer. Eugen Schauman used an M1900 (serial number unknown) in his 1904 assassination of the Russian Governor-General of Finland at the time, Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov. Contrary to many reports from various sources, an M1900 was not used to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914; the handgun used by Gavrilo Princip in that notorious incident was instead a FN 1910. As initial reports said only that Princip had used a “Browning pistol”, many newspaper illustrations erroneously depicted him firing the Model 1900. An Jung-geun used an M1900 in his 1909 assassination of the Japanese Resident-General of Korea, Itō Hirobumi. A Chinese copy of the gun saw usage during the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.
The North Korean Type 64 pistol is a copy of the M1900. Specimens examined by western authorities were marked with the date of 1964. A silenced variant was produced that featured a shortened slide to allow the threaded barrel to protrude far enough to attach the silencer.