The following is the little I know about the military packaging for the above rounds. It will probably appear eventually in the IAA Journal but I wanted to see if anyone on the forum could add more information.
I stress that I’m talking about military packaging and not the .450 Boxer commercial loadings even though some were sold in boxes and tins labeled “For Adams Revolvers”.
Adams Mark I Packages.
Majendie & Browne state on page 118 of their Military Breech-loading Rifles (published in 1870) that Eley made the all of the Adams [Mark I] cartridges up to that point. How Eley packaged these cartridges and how they were issued is unknown (to me). Following Col. Boxer’s forced resignation in 1869, the Royal Laboratory started issuing the Mark 1 cartridge and between 1870 and 1878 they issued 2.2 million rounds. However, no packages of Mark 1 cartridges have been seen or reported as far as I know. There is a sketch made by the late Adrian Caruana from a “book of plates” found in the Royal Armouries that showed the then current (1868) packaging for a variety of rounds - both rifle and revolver. This sketch was reproduced in the 1983 Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, Volume 21, No. 1, page 6, and is shown below.
Sketch of an 1868 Mk 1 string-tied, paper-wrapped package of 12 rounds
The fact that none of these packages has been seen or reported MAY be due to the fact that the Adams Revolver and the Adams Mk I cartridge were only approved for the British Navy [LoC’s 1738 & 1739] (the British Army did not approve the Adams revolver for use until 1877 [recorded in LoC 3316 of 1878], by which time the Mk II cartridge was in use). I do not know if the Navy was issued the Mk I cartridges in paper packages.
QUESTION #1: Has anyone seen a package of Mk I rounds like the above label?
QUESTION #2: Does anyone have information on how ammunition was packaged for the British Navy in the 1868-1877 period?
Adams Mark II Packages.
The Mark II cartridge was approved for use by the British Army (specifically the cavalry) in September 1877 and between then and fiscal year 1881/1882 the Royal Laboratory issued nearly 5½ million rounds. So it is not surprising that packets from this period do exist. So far, I am aware of 4 packet variations: 1879, 1880 (2) and 1881. The 1880 packets exist both with and without the black circle denoting Ball rounds – a marking that was introduced that year and recorded in LoC 3757.
All the above Mark II packets contained unheadstamped cartridges with a brass base disk.
From fiscal years 1882/83 to 1887/88 the Royal laboratory did not issue any .450 Adams Mk II cartridges, apart from a small quantity in 1886/87. However, from fiscal years 1888/89 to 1896/97 they issued 1¾ million rounds and no packets from this period exist (again, to my knowledge).
QUESTION #3: Has anyone seen any Mark II packets other than those shown above?
Adams Mark III Packets
The Adams Mark III cartridge was introduced in 1909 for those units that were still using the Adams revolvers. The Royal Laboratory design drawing was initially dated 1909 but there were frequent, though minor, revisions to the design up to and including 1927. I have found no production figures for this mark and the rounds, at least those made by Eley, are not rare. However, so far I have only seen 1914-dated packaging. The package contained the usual Eley production with the deep cannelure on the case and two broad-arrows added to the headstamp. You will note that the text on the packet does not include “Mark III” or “Adams” even though the design drawing, RL 16433(1), refers to it as the “Cartridge S.A. Ball Pistol Adams (Mark III)”.
Label portion of paper wrapper (string removed) for Eley Mk III Ball cartridges, dated 11th August, 1914.
The Royal Laboratory made a small quantity of the Mark III cartridge just before WWI headstamped R L III, though these are extremely rare.
QUESTION #4: Has anyone seen Eley Mark III packets with different dates than that shown above?
QUESTION #5: Has anyone seen Royal Laboratory packaging for the Mark III? In theory it should be similar to the Eley one above but with “RL” as the manufacturer.
That sums up what I know about Military packaging for Adams cartridges, so I’m hoping someone can add to it.