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Picture Page

February 2009

An early and uncommon gun powder can .......

Here is an unusual gun powder can, intended as a promotional sample for advertising the military, shooting, and general sporting goods and services offered by the retailers W.J. & R.H. Scott of Albany, New York.. The Scotts were were the brothers William J. and Richard H. Scott.                     They began as gunsmiths at 3 Beaver Street in 1845; sometime around 1850, they moved a few doors down to 9 Beaver Street, and were advertising themselves as dealers in guns and military goods. The label on the can shows their address as 60 State Street, 'at the sign of the BIG PISTOL', where they were located from about 1862 until William's death in 1871, at which time Richard assumed sole ownership of the business. He remained at 60 State Street until 1878, when he moved to 8 James Street, selling guns and military equipment there until his death in 1881. All four of the business locations were in close proximity to the Hudson River and the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal, providing them ready access to transportation for receiving and shipping goods.  

The can is quite small, as this picture taken next to a .45-70 cartridge shows, measuring 4" tall to the top of the spout and 2 3/8" in diameter. It is made of tin, with soldered seams. The top was painted black, now mostly worn off, and a cork would have sealed the spout. The label is oil soaked and stained. and small pieces are now missing, but it is still legible. It reads as follows:


(With proper care) Warranted not to rust-eat, acid- eat, or breech-burn the Barrels. PUT UP BY W.J & R.H SCOTT MANUFACTURERS AND DEALERS IN MILITARY GOODS GENERALLY, Silver and Brass Letters, Numbers, Figures suitable for Military Fatigue Caps ???s Bands, Associations, Church Pews, Fire Companies, Porters Hats or Caps, Baggage ???d Door Numbers. Also, Dog Muzzles, ???Locks, Belt Plates, Key Tags, Brass ??? We are Mechanics at our business, and warrant all the goods that we manufacture. We warrant all out Gun repairing - should any of it fail within a reasonable length of time, we will do it over without charge. We examine and complete in our own factory all our English and Dutch guns before offering them for sale, and when sold, we will warrant them to shoot well, and in case they do not, will return the money. Repairing done at short notice  We take the greatest care in making up Patent Muzzle and Hunting Rifles. We warrant them to be better made and to shoot better, than any other Gun of similar styles and dimensions manufactured in this country. We also deal in CHEMICAL OIL For Oiling Rifles, Fouling Guns, Pistols, and Locks, to prevent the acid absorbed from the powder from eating the metal. It is the best oil ever used for this purpose. Also, Swords, Sashes, Sword Belts, Military and Navy buttons Gold and silver Lace, Gold and Silver Tassels, Fire and Exhibition Speaking Trumpets, American Flags, Sword Canes, Dirks, Bowie Knives, Poignards, Stilettos, Hunting Knives, Fish Poles, Hooks and Lines, Stencil Plates, Dog Whips, ??? Flasks, Wad Cutters, Shot Pouches and Belts, Powder Flasks, Dog Leads, Game Bags, Decoy Ducks, &c. DOUBLE  AND SINGLE FOWLING GUNS Rifles and Smooth-Bores, Pistols, Powder, Shot, Caps, Gun Boxes, Silver, German Silver and Brass, Dog Collars, Cane Ferrules, Canes Mounted to order and Sporting Apparatus manufactured and sold at the Gun Warehouse. No. 60 State St, Albany, N. Y.  At the sign of the BIG PISTOL.

A smaller R.H. Scott can, just 2" tall, is pictured in Gun Powder Cans & Kegs (by Ted and David Bacyk, and Tom Rowe). While they indicate a circa 1860s date for their can, it would have been made after 1871, when Richard Scott was running the business by himself. The portion of the  label that is visible in the photo of this can reads:

AGENT FOR THE DUPONT POWDER CO. AND DEALER IN Sporting Apparatus, Generally, At The Sign Of The Gilt Cartridge  60 STATE ST.  Gen. Pistol and Sword Repairing

This can probably has similar wording to what is on my can on the remainder of the label.   



A box of .32 New Police mid-range cartridges...........

While I occasionally see individual mid-range cartridges with deep-seated bullets in a variety of pistol calibers, I don't often see a full box of the cartridges. The Union Metallic Cartridge Company produced the .32 Colt New Police cartridge over nearly a 16 year period, from shortly after the cartridge was introduced by Colt in 1896, until about 1912, when the company merged with Remington. The relative lack of mid-range boxes and cartridges would suggest that it was not a big seller. The .32 Colt New Police is one of several cartridges introduced by Colt that involved simply loading a flat nose bullet in a case that was developed by their competitor Smith & Wesson, and then giving it a Colt name. In this case, the .32 S&W Long case was used. Other examples include the .38 Colt New Police (used the .38 S&W case) and the .38 Colt Special (.38 S&W Special). The cartridges in the box are loaded with smokeless powder as noted on the label; the cannelure (groove) in the cartridge case and its 'U' marked primer are also indicators of a smokeless load.

This next picture shows three variations of the .32 Colt New Police mid-range cartridge as made by Western, Peters, and Winchester. The Peters example is probably a black powder load, as indicated by the absence of a cannelure in the case.






A progression of .270 Weatherby Magnum boxes.........

Weatherby cartridge cases and loaded ammunition have been produced by a number of different companies over the years. Roy Weatherby initially used Winchester-made 300 H&H cases which he fire-formed for his line of cartridges, and then loaded himself. A contract with Speer in 1952 to supply cases failed due to their inability to produce the quality and quantity of cases required by Roy Weatherby. In 1953, Weatherby contracted with the Swedish ammunition firm Norma to produce his cases, which he loaded himself; eventually, Norma began producing loaded Weatherby ammunition. This arrangement went well, but in 1963 Weatherby's partner sold his half interest in the company to the German companies J.P Sauer and Dynamit-Nobel, at which time the German director of those companies decided that RWS should be producing the ammunition and immediately canceled the contract with Norma without informing Roy Weatherby of his decision. This resulted in a shortage of Weatherby ammunition for a period as the German company tooled up for production. After three years or so of problems with ammunition and rifle production caused by the poor management of his German partners, Weatherby was successful in arranging a buyout of their interest in his company in 1966, and soon after, the relationship with Norma was renewed.

Over the last few months, I have picked up eighteen .270 Weatherby Magnum boxes from several sources through no real conscious effort on my part. What I found surprising while looking through them was that there were ten variations among the eighteen boxes, not counting load variations. I believe the oldest box is the one above with the bear bursting through a target. Printed on the lower left corner of the back of the box is 'Brass made in Sweden', indicating that this box holds cartridges that were loaded by Roy Weatherby in South Gate, California, using cases that were made by Norma. The box includes the 'Keep out of reach of children warning that was mandated by the US government  in 1962; this would suggest that the box was made in 1962 or shortly thereafter. The cartridges in this box have unmarked nickel primers with green sealant; the headstamp is WEATHERBY  .270 MAGNUM.          

Fourteen of my boxes are the more commonly encountered 'tiger' format, which have a Bengal tiger head framed in a red circle on the front label, as shown in this picture. In addition to the tiger, Weatherby in script, and the cartridge on the label, it includes the advisory 'This Ammunition is for use only in Weatherby Magnum Rifles or other rifles chambered for the Weatherby Magnum cartridge'. The cartridges in a fourteen tiger boxes have the same headstamp as those in the bear box discussed above. Eleven of the boxes the exact same front as shown here, but five variations in the back labels were found among these. The basic tiger box back label is as shown in this picture which, like the bear box above, includes the Weatherby address as 2791 Firestone Blvd, South Gate, California, as do all of the fourteen of the tiger boxes. Nothing is printed on the back of this box to indicate where the ammunition or cases were made, however, the cartridges have nickel primers with green sealant, which appears to be the standard for cartridges made by Norma.

This picture is a composite of the lower portions of the back labels on three of the  boxes that are marked 'Made in Sweden, indicating production by Norma. On the first one, the printing is in black, on the second, it is in white as it is on the third, with the addition of a black product code 611148. The cartridges in the two upper boxes without the product code are headstamped WEATHERBY  .270 MAGNUM and have nickel primers with green sealant. The box with the product code has cartridges with a mix of WEATHERBY  .270 MAGNUM and WEATHERBY  270WBY MAG headstamps, all with brass primers and green sealant. I don't know one or the other of the headstamps is original to the box, or if it originally held the mixed headstamps. 

This picture shows the back of one of the boxes produced during the short period in the early 1960s by RWS. It is marked on the lower left 'Made in Western Germany. Otherwise, the box is the same as the other tiger boxes discussed so far. The cartridges are headstamped WEATHERBY  .270 MAGNUM and have nickel primers marked RWS with red sealant.

The markings on these tiger boxes (and the bear box) should provide clues as to about when they were made. Zip codes were introduced in 1963, and most companies were quick to adopt them. The 'Keep out of reach of children' warning was required by the government in 1962. All of the boxes shown so far have the warning; this, coupled with their lack of a zip code, should indicate that all were probably produced in or shortly after 1962. However, at about the time that Weatherby cartridge production was being shifted to Germany, some time in 1963, zip codes should have appeared on the boxes. Its possible that the Germany marked box above was made prior to Roy Weatherby knowing what his zip code would be, but more than likel;y, he or the printer overlooked it on the earlier boxes. As the zip code was not required by law to be on the boxes, Weatherby would not have been inclined to scrap perfectly good boxes, and may have continued to use these boxes well into the 1960s.

Two additional variations of the tiger box were in the group, both with changes to the fronts as well as the backs. Both are marked 'Made in Sweden', and were produced following the the transfer back to Norma from RWS. The caliber designation on the front of both has been revised by adding 'W.M.' after the .270 on the first box, shown here, and then removing the 'Weatherby Magnum' but including the W.M. on the second box shown below. The warning on the lower front of each box is also changed, to include the 'Keep out of the reach of children' warning, and a revision of the wording that appeared on earlier boxes about using the ammunition only in rifles chambered  for Weatherby ammunition. In addition, the box above includes a warning to not use the ammunition in Weatherby Vanguard rifles. This was added at about the time Weatherby began production of the Vanguard action in 1970. This new action had only two locking lugs for the bolt, compared with the 9 lugs on the Mark V action. This reduced number of lugs resulted in a weaker action, and the need to warn against shooting ammunition intended for the Mark V rifle in the Vanguard. Later style boxes do not mention the Vanguard, so either they strengthened the action or made a change in the ammunition. On the second box, there is an added label with the warning information. I don't know what was originally printed on the box beneath this label, and can't say which of these two boxes was made later, but I suspect it was this second one.   

The backs of these two boxes are shown here in the same order as their fronts are shown above. Other than the format of the company address, they are matching. They have been completely reworded, with additional warnings and advice, obviously put there for purposes of reducing company liability in the event someone considers suing for injuries resulting from their failure to follow the basic, common-sense rules of shooting. Both display the zip code in the company address, and both have the Norma's 'L' in a circle with crown logo.