Greetings ! I was flintlock on the original milsurpshooter.net boards, and a few years back there was a hacking incident and I had to change to fat red arrow there. Because of the bizarities of Yuku, I can’t seem to sign back on there nowadays. This site seems to have knowledgeable visitors, and a few I recognize (Doc AV for one), so let me explain my dilemma, and let the members respond.
My grandfather was a WW 1 vet, and passed away in the late ‘ 60’s. As a youngster of 5 – 9 years old, I was told many “war stories” by him, and shown some of the paraphernalia he had retained . Among these were the “bandage” type leggings (puttee?) he would wind around his ankles, and the compass he was issued, this looked like a brass pocket watch, with U.S. stamped on it. As I moved away from the area and saw less of him, I never thought about any of these items, and he has been gone these many years. I don’t remember him showing me any ammo, or even talking about having any.
Last month (March ’10) I had the opportunity to visit the old homestead. The house is still standing (barely) and hasn’t been lived in for 15 years. The barn is long gone, and a few sheds are still standing, though leaning and ravaged by time. I was taking a last look, because the entire area is to be dozed into a big pile and burned, and the land “developed”. In the remnants of a shed (that he had shown me his wild rice processing equipment about ’60 or ’61 or so) I found a shelf in a corner, where there was still a portion of roof. On the shelf was a dirty tin box, and inside the tin was a Bakelite box, containing the brass compass (!!) This was the original pocketwatch compass he had shown me as a boy, stamped “U.S.”. What a find, the original compass issued to my gramps in 1918! Despite the hinge pin to the cover being slightly damaged, it still works, and is not corroded, readable, and still points to north! But this is not why I compose this.
As I moved my feet, I dislodged some dirt and debris on the wood and dirt floor, and noticed what looked like a large number of small circular objects, all together, and in a small area. Closer inspection revealed what appeared to be .45 acp ammo. These looked like they were at one time contained in a wrapper of sorts, paper or cardboard, but that was disintegrated and only a few flecks of it left. A piece of asphalt roofing or siding (“tarpaper shack” was what it originally had been) had fallen over about a third of them. As I removed the covering dirt, debris and other material, the rounds that were partially shielded by the asphalt were in fair condition. Those that were not, were dirty and corroded almost beyond recognition. I looked around for something to try and retrieve them with, and ended up pulling the bag out of a Cheerios box I had in the car, and using that cardboard to slide underneath the items to remove them from the shed. The original packaging, was only remaining in a few flakes, and appeared to be a paper / cardboard type material. The years of dirt and dust settling around them, appeared to be what had kept them together and oriented with the bases up and the bullets toward the ground. I tried to keep them arraigned the way I had found them, and counted 98. I returned to the shed, and after a half hour of careful finger sifting, I suddenly found the last 2 rounds. The ones shielded by the asphalt were inspected, and the headstamp was “P.C. CO” and “18”. The P and C both had dots after them, but the CO did not. I assume this designates Peters Cartridge Company, and the year of manufacture as 1918. They were probably one of many that geared up to produce ammo for the war effort.The primers are of a more copper color than the cases, and are concave in appearance, slightly rounded out toward the back of the case. This is different than the flat bottomed primers I am used to seeing on modern ammo. The cases are heavily crimped /cannilured (sp?) at where the base of the bullet would be. The bullet is a “silver” color, not the copper jacket I have observed on other 45 military ball from later years. I remember reading about some bullets in WW 1 ammo being “tinned” by plating, dipping, or spraying with a tin or galvanized coating. I also recall that there was a later problem, particularly with .30’06 ammo, where the tinned bullets would actually “solder” themselves to the case neck, resulting in dangerous pressures. Is that what these are? Are these safe to shoot ? (Just kidding, the historical significance far outweighs any plinking value) Is there a copper jacket under the “silver” coating? Are these of any value as a collectable? I have refrained from cleaning them, only placed them in plastic 50 round trays as close to the way I found them as I could. I assume that cleaning, tumbling, polishing etc. would diminish their value or realistic and genuine appearance.
What do I have here? Should I leave them as is, or attempt to clean them ? Are there repro paper cartons available to store them in ? Are these worth much to collectors ? If I knew how, I would post pictures.
Thank you in advance for any response here, or email me at email@example.com