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FAKE SHOTSHELL BOXES
Members of ACCA have interests that are diverse and the various collections cover a wide spectrum of cartridges and related materials. Main areas of collecting interest within Australia include:
Transitional (and muzzleloading)
United States Sporting
.50 Calibre and above
Pistol and Revolver
Pistol and Revolver
Pistol and Revolver Packets
Air rifle packets
Primer and percussion tins
Clips and Links
Fuses, Grenades and Mortars
Abbreviations are frequently used to describe cartridges. Such abbreviations may be found in catalogue listings and publications but they are also useful in record keeping. The most frequently used abbreviations are listed.
From time to time, fake cartridges and boxes do appear in collections and at auctions and these pose problems for collectors. While some unscrupulous collectors deliberately manufacture fakes and pass them off as original, some fakes are unwittingly bought and then traded or sold to other collectors. Some of the fakes that have been identified in Australian collections are listed below.
12 mm Raphael Revolver, rimless with flat lead bullet identified by no headstamp, no powder, can be identified by internal case inspection - discovered in 1983.
8mm Bergmann, rimless-grooveless identified by copper Nambu projectile, no headstamp, no powder, can be identified by internal case inspection- discovered in 1983.
6.5mm Bergmann, rimless-grooveless identified by turned copper projectile, no headstamp, no powder, can be identified by internal case inspection.
.30 M1 Experimetal Flared identified by gold-aluminium 5.56 NATO Dummy, cut off at shoulder then cut off section reversed and pushed into remaining case, Hs F A 71.
.400 31/4" Boxer identified by between one and three shiny new lead balls and marked in black felt pen 'Single Ball', 'Duplex' a or 'Triplex'. There are also two variations of shot loadings, one with a coned mouth and one with a six petal crimp.
New primed 11/2" Naval Flare, buff paper, copper head and snapped primer identified by stamped "ELLEY & KYNOCH MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN" & "MADE FOR SIR RALPH CALLWEY THIRKLEBY PARK THIRK" (NB spelling of Eley). Some with live shotshell primer - discovered in 1990's.
4 Gauge Shotgun Cartridge with roundnose lead bullet identified by Hs KYNOCH * 4 * Four rows of four dots impressed in case towards the mouth. Case filled with sand.
Fake Shotshell Boxes
Nobel's Corio Cartridges - one of the more well-known fake Shotshell boxes in Australia.
This is a genuine Nobel's Reliance box - top and side view. There are two known copies of this box.
Some of these Setter boxes are appearing in the USA as original boxes but, in fact, are original labels glued to old boxes. This is Canadian although labels did appear in South Australia some time ago.
Some of these Straightline green and red boxes are appearing in the USA as original boxes but, in fact, are original labels glued to old boxes. These are from Hoffhungs in Sydney, Australia.
Fake Eley Nitro.
Fake Derwent Amberite-Smokeless.
Any accumulated grim or dust can be carefully cleaned from old brass or copper rounds with a brass-bristle suede brush. If carefully used, the brush will not mark the cartridge and a soft lustre will be restored to the metal. The round should then be rubbed with a clean, soft cloth. Brass wool and copper wool have recently become commercially available in USA. Both of these products will clean brass without leaving unsightly marks.
The white powder from an oxidised lead projectile may be easily removed by the gentle use of the suede brush. Any marks left by the bristles may be removed by gently rubbing the lead onto clean, dry hessian bagging.
Really old cartridges that are subject to repeated attacks of corrosion may need to be given strong protection to prevent the complete loss of a valuable round. Kingsley Field of New Zealand recommends that such cartridges be thoroughly cleaned with a suede brush and then coated with a solution made from hard clear nail polish thinned with 50% acetone.
Kingsley also recommends that lead bullet oxidation may be prevented by dipping the cleaned bullet into a brew of hexane (petroleum ether) into which has been dissolved as much paraffin wax as the mixture will take.
In extreme cases, particularly with old black powder cartridges, it may be necessary to pull the bullet and remove the powder. After thoroughly washing and drying the inside of the case, the bullet can be reseated. Careful measurements of the overall length of the cartridge before pulling the bullet will maintain the integrity of the reassembled round. In such cases, the cartridge should be marked with a label such as "deactivated" and it is quite acceptable to have deactivated rounds in collections.
Minor tears to cartridge boxes can be repaired with adhesive applied to the torn area with a sanded-down toothpick. Generally, the "Gluestick" types of adhesive are best to use as they are easy to apply, dry quickly and dry clear. Great care should be taken to only apply sufficient to glue the hold the torn section in place as too much glue will tend to form a ridge which may form lumps or ripples under the paper.
Soft brushes can be used to clean dust and accumulated grime from boxes. The dulled appearance of old boxes may be greatly improved by the judicial use of neutral shoe polish applied with a soft cloth. The polish should be left for about a quarter of an hour and then polished very lightly. Subsequent coats may be needed over several days to restore those wonderful old elaborately coloured boxes to their former glory. Great care should be taken with the polish as some of the newer brands appear to contain a strong solvent which dissolves the ink on the boxes. Before subjecting a rare box or cartridge to any form of restoration, it should be common practice to conduct a test-run on a common and inexpensive box or cartridge of a similar type. After all, dissolved ink on a cheap modern box will not upset you as much as a bare label on your favourite old "Lister" box of 12 gauge shells.
Once the boxes have been cleaned, they should be carefully wrapped in plastic or cellophane and taped down with Librarians' tape (often called "magic tape" as it becomes virtually invisible after it has been applied).
The Cartridge and its Care, from Go to Whoa (Terry Castle)
If all the articles on caring and maintaining cartridges were put together, the result would probably be a book about the size of the Bible. Many collectors, of course, have their own preferred manner in how they treat cartridges, although there are some universal does and don'ts; some having the death penalty for transgression.
This is a word from this particular writer, having learned from many others beforehand, and this is a recommendation only, which others may or may not like to attempt.
Firstly, the initial cleaning/degreasing. Take a soft cloth, the writer uses an old hankie, lightly apply mineral turpentine and then wipe down the brass (or copper) case only. For small areas, a cottonwool 'bud' soaked in turps will do the same job. So will metholated spirits to a lesser degree, with the end result being the same, but taking longer to achieve.
If you are dealing with a paper patched cartridge and or one that has bees wax applied to the bullet, then at all costs keep the turps away from both. Once on a paper patch, there is no way of removing the resultant turpentine staining while bees wax on a bullet will be dissolved once in contact with mineral turpentine.
Where the case shows signs of oxidation and corrosion take the following steps. Take an old brass key, never ever let steel touch a cartridge case, firmly rub or 'scrub' an edge of the back of the key lengthways up and down over the corrosion and watch as the corrosion comes away as a dust. The average moderately corroded cartridge case should take no more than a few minutes to change to one left with dark 'birthmarks' on it where beforehand the corrosion had existed.
Birthmarks, more commonly referred to as 'stains' on cartridges are there for good; there is a process of applying dilute phosphoric acid to the case to remove these stains but this is not recommended by the writer.
To erase any fine vertical marks left by the key, in many instances there are none, take a brass or bronze (never any other metal) bristled sued shoe cleaning brush (not easy to locate these days) and lightly buff in the opposite direction, i.e. across the case rather than up and down it. Some sporting or hardware stores still sell 'bronze wool', similar to 'steel wool' and this will suffice if one can not locate a brass or bronze fine bristled brush; a touch of light oil can be added to 'bronze wool' during the brushing process.
The ultimate goal is to be left with a cartridge that still retains all of the patina which has been achieved by the natural ageing process. For those collectors fortunate enough to have a cartridge (case) made of aluminium or steel which in need of cleaning, remember to always use a softer and less abrasive metal to do any cleaning than that of the case itself.
Brass foil cases need extra care and the rubbing with a brass key needs to be delicately done or not done at all as an impression can be left in the foil. The best advice is to just use a bronze brush both up and down and across the case. Where an iron base disk is badly rusted, use the brass disk to remove as much of the rust that will freely come away and then coat the base disk with a very fine smear of petroleum jelly or light oil.
There are very rare occasions when corrosion of a cartridge is so advanced or so unceasing that the removal of the propellant is the only answer. This is a subject on its own and the advice of an experienced collector should always be sought. The use of an inertia puller is, at times, all that is needed plus the skill required to reseat the bullet. However, be aware that there have been rare occasions when the use of an inertia puller has caused the primer to fire, rather spectacularly one might say.
If drilling the case, suffice to say that a hot drill bit coming into contact with a propellant can result in a somewhat startling and often unhealthy result. In the writer's opinion, drilling a case other than underwater and at a slow speed should never be attempted.
Some fundamental don'ts. If you wish to reduce both the collectability and the value of a cartridge, some would say ruin it entirely, then go ahead and polish the case. Thirty and more years ago some collectors considered it standard practice to use a metal cleaner such as 'Brasso' on a cartridge case, bringing the case to a lustrous shine, more reminiscent of a displayed brass candelabra than say a 100 year old highly collectable and naturally-aged patina(ed) cartridge.
Then to add insult to injury is the matter of 'lacquering', in effect coating the case and in some cases the paper patched (or otherwise) bullet in a layer of women's clear nail varnish, or God forbid, clear polyurethane timber lacquer. Well if the value and desirability of the cartridge had not already been slashed hugely by the polishing process, then this lacquering is the final 'coup de grace', reducing a once possibly desirable item to one now to be utterly avoided by many advanced cartridge collectors.
The one exception to lacquering and its benefits is that of the 'caseless' cartridge. Where these quite rare and desirable items need to be protected from breaking apart (the propellant), a coat or coats of clear nail varnish will help in stabilising the compressed propellant and ensuring the integrity of the cartridge for hopefully a long time to come.
There are times when it is a case of take a lacquered cartridge for the collection (hopefully until a better example comes our way) or go without that variation or calibre whatsoever. Should one fall on such hard times, then the lacquer can generally be removed with the use of acetone. A thread of cotton tied around an inverted case and then submerging the case (or the entire cartridge) in a container of acetone followed by gentle wiping with a soft cloth will, after several attempts, generally produce a totally 'clean' specimen. Be aware that the habit of using acetone, whilst having a lit cigarette dangling from ones lips, can have somewhat spectacular results.
Staining of a paper patch, however, will result from the above. Where any lead bullet exhibits undesirable and continued oxidation, this can be halted by lacquering. However the writer (extremely rarely) prefers inverting the lead bullet (not the paper patch if this can be avoided) into an ultra light oil such as WD 40 or CRC for a matter of 20 seconds or so and then allowing to fully 'dry', before laying on its side.
The writer has always used corrugated cardboard (cut to size with a box cutter knife) obtained from a cardboard box manufacturer on which to display his cartridges and these have never (over 30 + years) suffered ill effects from any chemicals in the cardboard.
Undoubtedly corrugated plastic (sometimes located in containers such as suppository packets) would be a preferred option and I am aware that at least one overseas Cartridge Collecting Club went to the not unsubstantial expense of having a quantity of felt sprayed corrugated sheet plastic made for members who had pre-ordered.
Displaying in ones 'collecting room' is a matter of choice and can vary from the proverbial shoe-box (God forbid), to the tried and trusted 10 to 18 draw 'Cotton Ryle' cabinet. The writer also uses large wooden 'map or plan' cabinets each with up to 6 draws or trays; each is about 130x80cm in size. Always remember to rub candle wax onto the underside of the draw sliders before putting the display draws to use. Heard, but not experienced, is the belief that cabinets and or draws made of oak can have a detrimental affects on cartridges, so this is a point to bear in mind.
For displaying cartridges at meetings, the most common issue is security and this means that they need to be under glass or unscratched polycarbonate panels. An experienced friend of the writer uses aluminium two-piece, hinged top or lid display 'boxes' with glass top panels, each about 40x40cm. It is assumed that these started life as watch display cabinets in perhaps a jeweller's shop.
Anything similar will do and the writer uses a Rimu cabinet of about the same dimensions with an inset glass pane on top. Security is provided by way of cello-tape or 'blue-tack' to hold the glass hard down. When displaying cartridges, remember that they need to be easily seen. Place them close to the glass and well described, be that with a small printed statement under each one or a laminated sheet carrying details alongside the display box.
Other important points of collecting include: Never handle another person's cartridges/packets without asking the owner first. Never handle cartridges whilst eating food or drink, or without having washed one's hands. Never display cartridge packets (or cartridges) of any sort where they can be exposed to sunlight, otherwise they will fade. Always have a carpeted floor below display cabinets. If a visitor does not drop one of your special cartridges one day, you probably will and a concrete floor meeting a rare and desirable cartridge will not make for a happy event. Consider a dehumidifier for your collecting room, a relatively constant temperature and low humidity level can only enhance the life of your cartridges.
No doubt other collectors may have points to add and hopefully this article will bring forth constructive comments from collectors more skilled than the writer.
|George Hoyem||History & Development of Small Arms Ammunition|
|Volume 1 Revised, Martial Long Arms - Flintlock through Rimfire||$75|
|Volume 2, Centrefire Primitive & Martial Long Arms||$75|
|Volume 3, British Sporting||$75|
|Volume 4, American Sporting & Addendum to Vol 1||$75|
|Josef Motz||Austrian Military Cartridges Vol 1 & 2 on CD||$45|
|Dan Shuey||WRACO Volume 1 Headstamp Cartridges & Variations up to 38 Cal||$45|
|Errol Tucker||Shotshells of Australia Addendum 2000||$20|
|Ken Rutterford||Cartridges of the British Isles||$70|
|Ken Elks||Japanese Ammunition 1880-1945. Parts 1 & 2||$100|
|C W Harding||The Birmingham Cartrdige Manufacturers||$90|
|Ray Giles & Dan Shuey||100 Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes||$85|
|Rick Landers||Identification Handbook of British Grenades 1900-1960||$10|
|Saddle Up, Australian load carrying equipment||$35|
|Textbook of Small Arms 1929||$40|
|Richard L Rains||Winchester Two Piece .22 Boxes 1873 to 1927||$50|
||Handbook of Pistol & Revolver Ammunition||$90|
|Anthony Williams||Flying Guns The Modern Era||$65|
|Rapid Fire, The Development of cannon, heavy MG's & their ammunition||$45|
|Hackley, Woodin & Scranton||History of Modern US Military Ammunition Volume 1 1880-1935||$50|
|Carles Yurst||Cartridge Collectors Notebook||$30
|Peter Labbitt||Booklets with various titles||$25
|D J Baker||British Handloading Cartridge Tools||$45
|C W Harding||Eley Cartridges||$90|
|John Moss||9x23 Rimless Pistol Cartridges||$50|
|Small Calibre Ammunition Guide Volume 1||$30|
|Small Calibre Ammunition Guide Volume 2||$30|
|Belgian Calalogues Volume 1||$25|
|British War Office||Text Book of Ammunition 1944||$45|
|Dale M Davis||Historical Dev't Summary of Automatic Cannon Ammunition 20-30mm||$40|
|25mm Caseless Telescoped Ammunition for the GAU & Machine Cannon||$25|
|USMC Ammunition Technical Data Sheets - 2003||$25|
|DWM Catalogues from before WW1||$55|
||Australian Military Small Arms Manufacture 188-2003||on CD||$10|
|Gary B Muckel||Early Shotgun Concentrators and Spreaders||$60|