History of the C.I.P.
Limiting oneself to the realm of arms, it is possible to say that the origins of "Proof" go back to the time when arms were first made in the 13th to 15th centuries. Proof was then made at the request of clients who wished to be protected by guarantees. The level of Proof depended on the quality of the product, which is why one had "half proof", "proof", and "fully proofed".
Firearms, which were created in the 14th Century, brought with them the question of the safety of those using them. It is generally admitted that the first artillery gun crews were convicts. It was then common to Proof artillery pieces - always at the clients request - by using loads greater than normal.
In fact the reputation of the Liege arms industry goes back to the 16th century and is primarily based on the manufacture of hand held firearms. It is logical that the Proofing of artillery pieces led to similar Proof of hand held firearms. Thus there were, at Liege, teams of specialists - Proof men - who, at the request of buyers, Proofed firearms. In those days, we believe that quantities of firearms avoided Proof, particularly those that were less well made.
After various appeals about the quality of arms made in the Principality of Liege, Prince-Bishop Maximilian of Bavaria decreed on 10 May 1672 that the Proofing of artillery was obligatory. Such Proof had to be carried out by a certified Proofer and the Proof Mark of the City of Liege " Le Perron" was stamped upon the weapon after acceptance.
The law of 10th May 1672 is considered as the birth of the Proofing of firearms at Liege. In 1689, Prince-Bishop Maximilian of Bavaria issued an edict about the safety of powder depots and reinforced the conditions of Proof for firearms. The object of this edict was announced as “for the good of the trade and the safety of the user" - in other words, for the renown of the Liege arms industry. .
The principality of Liege was annexed in 1795 by the French Republic after the revolution of 1789. The Proofing of Firearms was aligned with the rules imposed by Napoleons decree of 14th December 1810.
This decree fixed the Proof procedure as well as the working methods of the Proof Houses of the whole French Empire. Each town in the Empire which produced firearms had to have a single Proof Master. The Proof Master was chosen by the Prefect of the Department after presentation by the Mayor of 3 candidates proposed by the local gunmakers. The Prefect also nominated 6 assistants to help, in pairs, in the Proof work.
The authority of the Proof House was no longer limited to firearms made in Liege, but extended to the whole country, so it was normal that Belgian legislation, after 1830, ruled that the Proof Master was nominated by the King (no longer by the Prefect!) upon presentation by the Governor (no longer the Mayor) of 3 candidates proposed by the gunmakers. The 6 assistants are still nominated by the Governor (Prefect) and they are not only obliged to assist Proof but also the law requires that they should research methods for improvements in the Proofing of firearms. Only the role of the Mayor (Burgomeister) has been modified as he became, by law, the President of the administration body.
The 14th December 1810 is therefore an important date for the Proof House. Then in 1888 the law gave the Proof House independent legal status and recognised it as the Owner of its buildings. It also gave the Director of Police the responsibility of monitoring the trade in firearms throughout Belgium.
The birth of the C.I.P.
In 1914 the Director of the Proof House at Liege, Mr. Joseph FRAIKIN (1908 - 1946) was at the origin of the creation of C.I.P. to Proof portable firearms to establish uniform rules for the Proofing of firearms and ammunition to assure mutual recognition of the Proof marks of the countries which signed this convention. This convention specified that the seat of the permanent office of the C.I.P. would be in Belgium and that its director would be nominated by the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium.