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This Month's Picture Page

Prior Picture Pages:
 * September 2003
* October 2003
* November 2003
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* February 2004
* March 2004
* April 2004
* May 2004
* June 2004
* July 2004
* August 2004
* September 2004
* October 2004
* November 2004
* December 2004
* January 2005
* February 2005
* March 2005
* April 2005


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Picture Page

May 2005

Another great UMC box........

Last month, I led this page off with a full box of UMC .41 long rimfire cartridges that had the raised 'U' headstamp. Here's another beautiful example of that company's early rimfire boxes, this one in .38 Extra Long, also with that elusive raised 'U' headstamp. This cartridge was introduced in 1869 for the Ballard Sporting Rifle, as manufactured at that time by the Brown Manufacturing Company of Newburyport, Massachusetts. As a result, it is often referred to as the .38 Extra Long Ballard, though other gun makers  produced rifles that used this cartridge, included  E. Remington, Frank Wesson, and O. M. Robinson. Illustrated on this label are a Wesson two trigger tip up action rifle and a Ballard sporting rifle. These rifles were probably copied from period catalog illustrations that were made available to the engraver. Closer examination reveals the Wesson rifle to be a first type, with the slotted link that limits upward travel of the barrel on the right side of the frame, visible in the blowup of the illustration on the side of the barrel just above the front trigger. The first type Wesson was produced between 1859 and 1864, though these dates have no bearing on when the label was engraved. Characteristics of the Ballard reveal it to be a sporting rifle, but are not detailed enough to narrow it down from among the several makers and the many models that were produced. 

As I pointed out last month, the raised headstamp indicates production between 1877 and 1878. Other early characteristics are the square corners and plaid pattern on the box, and the UMC Co 'dog's head' logo and Smith & Wesson 1869 patent on the label. The blue colored inner portion of the box seems a little unusual to me, but is original. Marked lightly in pencil on the bottom of the box are three letters, which appear to be 'nai' or 'nir' in script, most likely representing the wholesale cost of the ammunition, which would have been about $25 per 1000 rounds in this caliber, or $1.25 per box of 50. These markings were a fairly common practice among retailers, who selected a word with 10 different letters to represent the numbers 0 through 9, using the appropriate letters to code the cost. This allowed the retailer to know at a glance exactly what he paid for an item, which was useful when offering a customer a discount off of a marked price. Below this code is what appears to be a price of 65 cents. However, based on the wholesale cost and considering that cartridges were often sold individually out of a box, I suspect it could possibly be 6.5, or 6 1/2 cents, per cartridge.   


A couple of the little ones.......

Here are the two smallest automatic handgun cartridges that were made commercially, the 2.7mm and 3mm Kolibri. The 2.7mm, on the left in the picture, was introduced in 1913 by Georg Grabner, an Austrian. It's .formidable .106 caliber bullet weighs about 3 grains, producing a muzzle energy of 3 foot pounds.  The Kolibri pistol was intended as a ladies self defense weapon; its pipsqueak cartridge tells us a lot about how much the men valued their women in the early 1900s. The ineffectiveness of the 2.7mm cartridge was pointed out almost immediately and steps were taken to improve its ballistics, resulting in the development of the 3mm cartridge, the middle cartridge in the picture. The size of the bullet was increased to approximately ..120 caliber, weighing in at a hefty 5.25 grains. That the 'improved' cartridge was not embraced by the shooting public is apparent, as production did not continue after World War I. Examples of both the pistol and its cartridges are quite rare today. Incidentally, the large cartridge on the right is the 4.25 Lilliput, a ballistic powerhouse, comparatively speaking. For a better perspective of just how small the Kolibri cartridges are, this second picture shows the actual size of all three cartridges. Imagine being pinned down by the bad guys, and trying to reload the magazine of your backup gun with a handful of these little guys.   


A couple of Mauser revolver cartridges..........

Pictured here are two of the three cartridges made for the Mauser Model 1878 "Zig-Zag" revolver, which was made in three calibers, 7.6mm, 9mm and 10.6mm. On the left is the 7.6mm cartridge, made by Deutsche Waffen u. Munitionsfabriken of Karlsruhe, Germany and with the raised headstamp DWM  K  K  5. On the right is the 9mm, this one made by Deutsche Metallpatronenfabrik Lorenz of Karlsruhe, which was a predecessor of DWM. It has the raised headstamp  PATR.FABR. + KARLSRUHE +, and dates from before 1889, when the company name changed to Deutsche Metallpatronenfabrik Karlsruhe (DM-K).

The revolver received a patent on March 7, 1878, and derives its "zig-zag" name from the unconventional way the cylinder is rotated between shots. Rather than having the Colt-style ratchet on the rear of the cylinder that was copied by most revolver makers, it has grooves cut into the outside of the cylinder, as can be clearly seen in the picture below, which are engaged by an indexing pin that travels forward and backward as the gun is operated.