Advice on primers

In my search for cartridges, I came across a lot of vintage primers. Can anyone tell me reasonable value, the best source to sell them; gunbroker, on here or other auction sites? Or someone has a few minutes to talk over the phone some evening about primers.

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Dear sir, All I can tell you is they need to be shipped with a hazmat shipper !
I have a UPS account , but I am not set-up to ship HazMat items…it’s like opening up a can of worms. Best of luck, Jim

It seems that there are very few people interested in primers, other than for shooting purposes. I have taken some lots similar to yours to various gun shows, and advertised them on line, and even took some to SLICS with no interest at all. I finally got rid of most for what I though was a very cheap price for the lot.

They are certainly collectible, and can be interesting to people, and have historical merit. Just not to many people or worth much money. At least that is my experience.

Don’t know much about various types of primers but these are nice labels, tins and boxes!


In Europe there are definately collectors for primer boxes.

Thank you for the warnings. :) I am still going to root around. Thinking loudly it may be better to dump the primers and sell the boxes. Too early for that though.

Thank you for the advice.


In my opinion there is no need to dump the primers. I am not aware of any report that primers went off by themselves. The general tendency is that primers become more prone to not functioning with age. On the other hand, I have fired cartridges with 80 years old Sinoxid primers working like new.
More modern package designs, like the RWS Amboss-Zündhütchen box you show, are designed to prevent the contents from simultaneously going off in the case of a fire. But apart from a fire in your home, primers are not particularly dangerous if handled with care.

In fact, Primers are Class 1.4S, same as for Cartridges.
UN 0044 for Primers,
UN 0012 Bulleted ( Ball) Cartridges
UN 0014 Blank Cartridges.

Doc AV

Most of the primers are common & worth perhaps 3-5 each if someone needs one of them. The big tins with the typewritten label are probably British & worth perhaps 10-15 each. The RWS are also relatively common. The Musket caps (not the Navy Arms which are modern) are 10-15 for the good condition ones. The C.L. by Francotte probably have another side which was not shown to be able to judge value. Keep the primers with the packaging. As otherwise not even a shooter would want them

Thank you for the advice about the primers. I will give a try on selling them.


I don’t recall seeing one of the Francotte tins before. Are they musket caps, and about when would they have been produced.

I am not sure what they are but here is a couple of pictures. The tins are sealed

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Doc, I was wondering that. So they could be easily sent via UPS here in the states.

Thank you,


I suggest you check up on the shipping laws for primers. I have forgotten all the details, but it is NOT just like shipping ammo. There are Hazardous Material connotations with them, at least for shipping in the USA. Whether or not those connotations and resulting restrictions are really necessary is a moot point, as the law is the law, unfortunately.

There may even be restrictions on how many packets of primers can be shipped in one box. I simply have forgotten. I think this is governed by the Department of Transportation, but perhaps a licensed dealer who handles primers can respond here with the current regulations. I know there is a HAZMAT fee for shipping that is generally more than the shipping costs themselves.

DK - are you up on this?

John M.

I called UPS today and here was they had to say:

  1. You can go Hazardous training, sign a contract with UPS and pay a monthly fee to be able to ship Hazardous Materials which includes primers

  2. You can find a third party who has completed the above and pay them a fee for handling hazardous materials and shipping them via UPS. She said the Hazardous Waste fee varies but she mention $35 plus shipping.

My initial gut call is that it probably is not worth it unless someone is buying a collection. I am not in a hurry.



  1. You might try other carrier, UPS is tough.
  2. Could have a serious can of worms if the outer boxes are not UN approved and POP tested. Theses are newer requirements - 1990’s. Officially, the carrier should reject the shipment without this information. SAAMI has some great summary on shipping -
  3. Bulk primers are not allowed to be shipped (anymore). They have to be in approved trays that separate the primers, like you buy at the store now.
  4. Once you have primed cases, it is a whole different ball game. Still need UN boxes and POP testing. This is probably best course of action.
  5. Do you know CDVS? Bob will buy anything…
  6. Otherwise - shoot them or set them off.

Let me know if I can help more.


Very nice. These would contain small copper percussion caps with “ribbed” or “fluted” sides. There might be a faint “W” impressed on it.


The Francotte May are paper containers so not as such 'tins" but none the less perhaps $10 -$15 each. Two variations are known to me; a white and a green bottom label, with the Francotte side the same as shown.

I guess I would have a hard time moving these 10,000 primers. :)

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Very neat crate, Any chance of a photo of the paper label & of any printing on the ends of it?

where are you located? You can send me a PM if you don’t want that public.