Commemorative cartridge-show cartridges

When was the last time there were any commemorative cartridges done with unique headstamps for things like SLICS? I sometimes come across cartridges with headstamps for the Chicago show, or the St Louis show, but I don’t recall any cartridges being done in the past 4 years that I have been going to SLICS.

A few years ago we did a set of 4 Spencers and then an FA 7.62 Tokarev for the PA Cartridge Collectors’ show. Have you seen all those? I think Steve Fuller did a nice .30-06 commemorative recently also.

I have seen the folded ammo one, and also a 2001 .50BMG snap cap - both for SLICS. I sold a random .44 cartridge of some sort last week in Manchester that had a Chicago show headstamp on it, but I was just wondering if these types of cartridges were something that had always been done for the Chicago / St Louis show, and if it was stopped for any particular reason, like cost, or interest or whatever.

OK, I see how it is…only SLICS matters. ;)

I have this shell from Chicago that I picked up shortly after becoming a IAA member, along with a key chain from that show.


I recall this subject being discussed by some of the directors a few years ago, either here on the forum or at the show itself but I don’t recall much of what was said. I think there was a lack of financial incentive and willingness to tackle the project(= someone to do all the work to make it happen).

The last SLICS cartridge that I remember seeing was a 38 Dardick Tround. I believe Dick Fraser was the one who had them made or did the work on them.

Show cartridges are an interesting collecting specialty. Here are some notes on a few past CICS/SLICS rounds I did. In my case, these were for show tableholders, and were included free in their show packages with a few extra for sale, hopefully to recover the cost of making them. Whoever does show cartridges will confirm that they are a lot of work and a lot of fun.

In 1983, I was the ICCA “Special Projects” guy, and two of the ICCA projects I did were the .416 Rigby ICCA commemorative dummy cartridge headstamped “ICCA 1983 416 Rigby” with the small BELL logo at 6 o’clock and nickel primer cup, and the ICCA commemorative “folded” 5.56mm dummy headstamped “ICCA 5.56 USA 1984” packed in a small plastic box with a whole cartridge and three individual components; the head with brass primer, the body, and the bullet. The .416 Rigby was chosen because that was the cartridge Jim Bell was making at the time, and Jim agreed to make the ICCA dummy cartridges. All we had to do was make a special bunting peg, aka headstamp bunter, dummy-load the rounds, and place each in a protective plastic bag. A handful of these were gold-plated, and a few encapsulated draw sets were also made. The purpose of these was for ICCA members to have fun with a unique cartridge and maybe raise a couple of bucks in the process.

For 1984, I contacted Andrew “Andy” Grandy, a past Frankford Arsenal engineer who invented the folded, aka, “U-shaped” cartridge design. Andy had left Frankford Arsenal, which closed in 1977, and was promoting his “U-shaped” 5.56 cartridges in the civilian market. He agreed to make the ICCA dummy cartridges with their special white-filled headstamps, again so the ICCA members could have fun collecting another special cartridge and make a little money for the Association.

These two cartridges cost ICCA members $7.50 each, postpaid, and each sold well. Neither of these cartridges had anything to do with the Chicagoland International Cartridge Show (CICS) or any other cartridge show, but some folks think they do.

When I was handed the job of managing the Chicagoland (CICS) and then St. Louis (SLICS) shows, I decided to continue the tradition began by earlier show managers to include a show cartridge with each tableholder’s package.

For 1998, Dave Swan made dummy 12-gauge window shells with the red case walls printed in black, “Chicagoland Cartridge Show 1998” and with top wads that promoted his company. The headstamp was, “ESTATE 12 GA CARTRIDGE.”

In 1999, the first year at St. Louis, the show cartridge was a Bell .458 Lott. Jim was then doing business as M.A.S.T., and the dummy-loaded the rounds used a custom headstamp bunter and empty primer pocket. The headstamp was “S.L.I.C.S. M[for MAST] 99 458 LOTT.” At my request, Jim sectioned a few rounds to show the wood-rod spacer inside, and because I knew a collector named Pepper who had a very strange collecting niche (color tips), I asked Jim to load some live high-pressure proof rounds with very distinctive red lacquer-coated-bullets with the lacquer extending down below the case mouth and dark-purple-lacquer-coated bases with the lacquer extending almost halfway up the case, blue primer cup, and plain brass headstamp. Pepper seemed to like his.

For 2000, Dave Swan did another 12-gauge; a “total window shell” with clear plastc case that showed the internal components. There was a label loaded inside that read, ”International Cartridge Show 2000,” and the headstamp was, “* 12 * 12.”

In 2001, I had the “A-ZOOM AMMO” company divert .50-caliber BMG anodized aluminum snap caps from their production line before they were laser-headstamped. A-ZOOM applied my special “A-ZOOM SLICS 2001 50 BMG” laser headstamp and packed the rounds in heavy polyethylene bags. I inserted a descriptive card and sealed the bags.

For 2002, I used a WW-SUPER 9mm MAUSER black-case dummy with “SLICS 2002” added to the headstamp. These were packed in plastic bags with descriptive cards.

In 2003, Rocky Mountain Cartridge machined beautiful 10-gauge 2 7/8-inch unprimed empty cases with “SLICS No 10 2003” headstamps. To increase contrast, I filled the deeply cut headstamps with black ink. These were placed in plastic bags with a descriptive card and three photos showing how the chells were made.

For 2004, I did the best show cartridge I ever did; a .22 Long Rifle black-case dummy. I found a laser-engraving company in Miami which agreed to cut the headstamps after I proved that the cartridges were inert. The resulting small “SLICS 2004” headstamp, cut very precisely by laser through the black finish, gave a great appearance, showing the letters and numbers in gold against the black finish. These were packed in plastic bags with a descriptive card and photo of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.

By 2005, I had done shotshells, rifle, and rimfire and I wanted something new. Thanks to Dick Fraser, who provided a group of live .38 Dardick Trounds at a very low price, I was able to make a dummy Tround. Fortunately, it is very easy to unseat the Dardick primer holder with the DC 38 headstamp and dump the powder out of the case, leaving the lead bullet in place. I made a fixture to snap the primers, and then re-inserted the primer holders with snapped primers, making the cartridges dummies, with green fortiflex cases. I used black transfer letters for the “SLICS 2005” marking and placed the dummies in plastic bags with descriptive cards.

In 2006, I had no choice of what to make for the show cartridge. It was the 100th anniversary of the .30-06, so I got black-case dummy .30-06 cartridges headstamped “WRA .30-.06” (strange to have the dot before the 06) with nickel primer and two case holes. I sent these to the same Miami laser company, and they inscribed each on one the case wall, “St. Louis International Cartridge Show 2006. 100th Anniversary of the .30-06. 1906 – 2006.” These were placed in plastic bags with a descriptive card and brief history of the .30-06.

Hope that helps explain at least some of the CICS and SLICS cartridges. I wonder if there’s any collector who really goes after these.

Mel - I do, but I started too late. Even though I started going to the “Chicago” show when it was still at Mundelein, I could not afford to go to the earliest shows. Also, at the time and for many years of going, my budget would not allow diversions from finding auto pistol rounds for my collection. There was always 20 times the material at any of the shows than I could afford to purchase (the last two St. Louis shows, I brought home as much money as I took - found very little. Ain’t that always the way - when you got the loot, you can’t find the stuff to buy with it!)

At any rate, I have slightly over 100 “special headstamps” in my little side collection, including a few good ones, like the Finnish 7.62 x 54 R “Happy New Year” headstamp from 1925, a gift from the factory to its employees. It is fun, but since I can’t make the shows anymore, I don’t add much, if anything, to it.

The California Cartridge Collectors (now the Western States Cartridge Collectors) did quite a number of them, many of them beautiful replicas of cartridges like Sharps, etc. I have most of those, of course. Some have been done for European shows as well - I even ended up, some how, with one of the headstamp bunters for one. I don’t remember ever acquiring it. I found it here at home in a box of junk stuff I had.

At any rate, it is a nice collecting field, although a frustrating one, since there are many of them that only people on the spot when and where they are offered even know about them.
Still, I have had a lot of fun with them, and after all, that’s all that’s important, isn’t it?

Edited to correct information on the Finnish 7.62 x 54R gift cartridge.

Thank you for the info as there are ones I didn’t even know existed. I do try to collect them also. However I really missed the boat on the SLICS cartridges. As I didn’t even realize they were available until I heard about the Dardick trounds. I have since aquired one of the 458 Lotts and I believe I have the .30-.06 also. Now I have a start for a wants list.
Thanks again.

Could you provide a little more detail on this one please? Sounds interesting.

Here are a couple of Cartridge show sets I have. The 5.56 Folded Case is the one mentioned by Mel. I particularly like Crispin set. While I do have an original .50 Crispin Long, I doubt if I’ll ever own originals of the rest of the series.


If I have time tomorrow, I will get the cartridge out and record the headstamp. I may type it out as I have my camera set up for another purpose right now and don’t want to change it. Come to think of it, since the cartridge looks like an ordinary ball round, I will scan it tomorrow and have a friend post it on the forum. The number of characters in the headstamp is interesting, and that effect would be lost typing it out. I would do it tonight, but my room is closed up for the night and I don’t want to open it up this late in the evening.

It might not appear for a few days - depends on how busy Joe, my “posting partner” is.

Thanks John, no hurry.