When did the Western Cartridge Company begin manufacture of brass cases for handgun calibers? Jack
Jack, I don’t know for sure when they began manufacture, but the earliest confirmed examples I can think of are the .38 Colt Army cartridges headstamped W.C.Co. 4-09.
According to the Reprint of the first 50 years of Western, available on the IAA website as part of the Western Catalogs, Franklin Olin took possession the property in 1892 and began making shotshell powder in 1893 as the Equitable Company, a powder mill. In 1895 he began work on loading machines for complete rounds of Shotshell ammunition. Three years later, in 1898, the directors of Equitable, pleased with Olin’s success with the loading machine development voted to organize the Western Cartridge Company to load Shotshells. Sometime around 1905 Olin made arrangements with the Austin Cartridge Company of Cleveland OH whereby Western and Austin would build and operate their own facilities to make primers and 22 cartridges. In 1907 Western purchased the entire business from Austin, and in 1908 bought the National Cartridge Company of Belleville IL and removed it’s manufacturing facilities to East Alton.
Based on this, it sounds like Western could have well made it’s first 22 ammunition between about 1905 and 1907, and perhaps other centerfire cartridges, other than shotshells sometime in late 1908 or early 1909. This would fit into Fede’s .38 Colt Army dated April 1909.
Amazing stuff available on the IAA Home Page!
Fede and Lew:Thanks for your kind and helpful responses. It’s amazing sometimes how difficult the answers to “simple” questions can be! Jack