Over the past 25 years or so of cartridge collecting, I have acquired some interesting specimens which have some direct ties to a historic place or event. I know that many of the cartridges in our collections have interesting histories, but often this is lost in the passing from hand to hand to hand. These are my favorites and have genuine provenance:
7.62x54r from the second Russo-Finnish war. Headstamp “17 37”. This fired case was picked up on a “battlefield tour” by a cartridge collector a few years ago.
12.7x108mm from Somalia, ca. 1992. Headstamp “188 * 51 *”.This cartridge case and projectile was brought home by a Marine buddy of mine. He said the Somalis would break down these cartridges to get the powder out to light fires with.
5.45x39mm and 7.62x39mm fired cases. The 5.45x39mm is headstamped “60 82” and came from a lot of ammunition smuggled out of Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation there. I beleive this cartridge was fired in testing here in the US. Since I got this case along with some live cartridges over 20 years ago, I do not doubt it’s provenance. The two lacquered steel cased 7.62x39mm came from a Vietnam War veteran. He brought a bunch of fired cases home with him because his Vietnamese wife made lighters out of them to sell as souvenirs. The left case is headstamped “21 71” and is Polish. The right case is Soviet and is headstamped “539 71”. To my knowledge, this Soviet headstamp is commonly found on copper washed steel cases, but unknown in lacquered steel. As of the last Russ Cornell checklist, this example is the only one known to exist in a collection. The last two 7.62x39mm also came out of Somalia from my Marine buddy. The one on the left is Chinese and headstamped “351 71”. The right hand case is Soviet and is headstamped “539 73”.
I also have a small assortment of 7.62x39mm that came out of Iraq/Kuwait during Desert Storm in 1991 and some 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm that recently came out of Afghanistan. Some interesting headstamps came out of the Afghan lot. Several 5.45 with the rare “7” factory code and a 7.62x39mm LS ball from the Soviet Union headstmped “711 91”, which I believe is the last year of production for the USSR before it fell.
What kind of interesting cartridges do you folks have with some sort of first hand provenance?