I pick this box up at the National Gun Day Show in Louisville last month. I was told that is a box designed for loading the Bruce Feed Device on the Gatling gun. I can find information on the Bruce Feed Device, but I have not been able to find anything on this type of box. As the pictures show, it is a two piece box, 20 round box, but a little larger than the standard two piece 20 round boxes. This is due to the much thicker cardboard separations between the cartridges and a 1/4" wood wooden piece separating the two rows. The bottom box is nailed to this wooden piece. The two wooden pieces are “dove tailed” together which allows the upper wooden piece and attached tinned metal “cover” to be slid off. This then exposes the cartridges and allows them to be placed in the Bruce Feed Device. The cartridges are Benet inside primed copper cases, with no or mixed C F, R F dated 80, 81, or 82 headstamps. The bullets have been pulled from all of them, making them blanks. There is a small patent date of September 7, 1880 glued to the bottom of the box. Unfortunately the pictures loaded out of their proper sequence. Sorry.
A mix of carbine and rifle cartridges.
There is an extended discussion of various Gatling Gun feed mechanisms, including the Bruce Feed at
Thanks John. I had found this info when doing a search on the Bruce Feed. Still looking for specific info on the box. I forgot to mention in my inquiry that the box is nailed to the center wood piece on each end as pictured. I added that info to my inquiry
Need to change title of this thread- it is actually for use with the Gardner gun (a crank operated gun with two barrels fed from a dual guide strip similar to the Bruce feed).
The patent on the bottom of the box is shown in the drawings for patents issued September 7, 1880 found on page 14 of:
It is fascinating to go through all those to see what people were inventing on a single day- everything from this box for ammunition to railroad signals, threshing machines, a cartridge depriming tool, and many other things.
Anyway, the drawing tells us that this box patent was number 231927 by Edward G. Parkhurst (1830-1901) for a “Cartridge packing and feeding case.” Parkhurst’s name may be familiar as inventor of the stripper clip modification adopted on 100 U.S. Model 1898 Krag rifles, but he was also involved in invention of machine tool improvements, and the Gardner gun, and worked for Pratt & Whitney in their firearms work. (P&W later made the rifle making machinery for Lithgow’s SMLEs among other things.)
There is an excellent history of the Gardner Gun with some details of their feed at:
Edward G. Parkhurst worked at Savage Arms Company in Middletown, CT during the Civil War [no relation to the later Savage company making lever action rifles]. In 1869 he joined Pratt & Whitney as an assistant superintendent and later took charge of their gun department. I was unable to find out much more about him as the preview pages of Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology are cut off at that point. However, besides the box which started this thread, and the Gardner gun and Krag clip mentioned above, he also was involved in patents for a book binding machine, turret lathe feeding collets, a profiling (millings) machine, an obturating device for breech loading cannons, and perhaps others.
As the Alley article notes, the U.S. Army did not use the Gardner guns beyond various trials, and a box somewhat similar to the Parkhurst patent box for the Gardner gun was proposed by Capt. Greer in the 1881 Report of the Chief of Ordnance. It shared a wider center dividing strip in the box, but omitted the metal and wood sliding cover in favor of a conventional two piece top with a cloth strip for opening. I suspect this was an attempt to come up with something cheaper, and apparently it could be used with the Gatling Gun’s Bruce strips as well.
Survival rate of your box is probably extremely low, from a very limited production number.
Fascinating! I appreciate the research you did on this so much John. It was exactly what I was looking for. I could not find anything on it, but I was looking at the Gatling Gun and the Bruce Feed for information. And it is neat that Parkhurst was the designer of the box! The individual that sold it to me said it originally came from a well know gun store in Houston who apparently had a quantity of them and sold them for $10 each many years ago…I paid quite a bit more :-)
Again my sincere THANK YOU!!