In February 2020, when the Corona virus was just getting cranked up in the northwestern U.S., I traveled to Anaheim, California, to visit with Colonel Frank Hackley, U.S. Army, Ordnance, Retired, principal author of the HWS series of the history of U.S. modern small arms ammunition. During that visit, Frank entrusted me with his reference library and many items of ordnance memorabilia he accumulated over the years to be shared with collectors worldwide. This is the first installment, to be followed by many more to come.
The dummy .50 Sharps cartridge shown is a special birthday and Christmas gift to Frank from Fred Von Gortler. Look at the photo on the top of page 500 of HWS Vol. III. Major Von Gortler is seated second in from the left. In 1968 when the photo was made, Gortler was the Commanding Officer of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant and he and Major Frank W. Hackley, Commanding Officer of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, seated fourth in from the right, were good friends as would be expected. Later, after both Gortler and Hackley had retired from the army and Hackley was working at Aerojet, he hired Gortler. Then later, Gortler worked for Jim Bell at MAST and moved with Bell to Boulder City, Nevada, where he worked for the new company, Eldorado, which had a custom shop. To celebrate his friend’s birthday, Gortler made a handful (six pieces) of special headstamped .50 Sharps cases and just one complete dummy round.
In his birthday note (date unknown) to Hackley, Gortler said " From the desk of Fred Von Gortler III. Frank, Here’s your B-day & X-mas present -! There are one good ctg & 2 good cases - all others are set-up parts. These are the only ones in the world. Fred"
The cases that are set-up parts are obvious because of their un-trimmed, thick rims, partial primer pocket flash hole (started, but not all the way through), and blind pocket with no flash hole even started. An interesting group, especially now that I have the full story. Making a special headstamp bunter, or bunting peg, is a big deal (and expensive), especially for just a few pieces, in this case fewer than 10. Gortler obviously thought very highly of Frank, which is not surprising. The headstamp, “F.W. Hackley 2-7-30,” is Frank’s birthday, 2 July 1930.