An old DeZeng mould

This mould was found in France. I think it was imported from USA during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. After it was stored in a French museum (see the stamp “Musée de l’Artillerie”)

It can cast eight .58 Minié bullets N°1.

In “Round Ball to Rimfire” Part One p. 19 Dean S. Thomas says "In november [1858], the Watervliet Arsenal was ordered to fabricate fifty bullets mould on the DeZeng plan to cast two bullets each of .58 caliber.

My questions are :

  • Who made this 8 bullets mould ?
  • How many were made ?

Thanks for your help.


Here you have some extra information about Henry L. De Zeng plus a copy of the patent already published in his book:

Thanks Fede.

The same mould was showed at SLICS 2011, but mine has not the Watervliet stamp.


Just an aside on this. It is immensly difficult to produce a gang mold like this where the sides do not warp and seperate. All credit to the old makers because it was nowhere near as easy as you would think it should be from just looking at it.

Keeping the metal hot enough to allow the lead to flow properly even on a single cavity mold with an electric furnace today is hard enough with a minie projectile. It was a skilled operation. Pure lead won’t flow nicely unless it is very very hot and the mold has to be very hot as well.

I have spent many hours out in my garage trying to cast minies and it is difficult, and I am a bullet caster with nearly 40 years experience. I really admire those old timers.

I would love to try a mold like that

Just another point, the blackening visible on the mold is probably due to smoking it with a candle. A popular trick to make the bullets drop out of the mold more easily because they are inclined to stick. A situation made worse by the several deep grooves in each one.