Frankford Arsenal .45-55-405 box marked Manhattan


Can anyone provide information on a January 1879 dated Frankford Arsenal .45 carbine box with MANHATTAN on the upper left corner of the label? Robert Buttweiler sold one of these in his December 1995 cartridge auction, but could only speculate that the MANHATTAN might refer to the copper alloy used to make the cases. I believe this speculation was based solely on the fact that BLOOMFIELD GILDING METAL was printed in this upper left position on the labels of many of the early Frankford Arsenal boxes of .45 carbine and rifle cartridges. I’m hoping that in the 15 years since the Buttweiler box was sold that information has come to light that might solve this mystery.


Guy: The word “Manhattan” then is clearly printed as part of the original label text and not an overprint? Jack



I believe that Mr Buttweiler was correct. “Manhattan” refers to an experimental alloy, in an attempt to strengthen the case rim and avoid extraction problems. I have no idea what the alloy was or where you could find the formula. Much like the Bloomfield alloy, it’s probably lost to history.

You might ask Mr. Al Frasca, although I believe Mr. Bob Hill was the brains behind the cartridges, and he is gone.

Just my professional opinion.



It was not an stamp, but printed as part of the original labeling.

Thanks. Mr Frasca had asked me about this, and I had nothing other than the Buttweiler information. Have you ever seen any reference to a Manhattan alloy? I believe Mr Frasca has more interest in seeing a reference to it, perhaps in a report to the Chief of Ordnance or other military reference rather than determining what the alloy was made up of.



I’ve never seen a reference to what the alloy was. I’m sure it’s buried somewhere in an obscure report but not likely to be found unless someone stumbled upon it. Maybe one of the Pitman notes? Bob Hill probably knew something about it otherwise they wouldn’t have mentioned it in the book. Who ended up getting his collection?




I had not heard of that box marking before, but for what it’s worth, there was a “Manhattan Brass Company” that operated in NYC from just after the Civil War to the mid 1920s. They were a prolific manufacturer of lamps and did much to refine the related technologies. While this bit of information may have absolutely nothing to do with .45-55 ammunition, I thought I’d put it out there as “Manhattan” doesn’t otherwise seem like much of a connection to ammunition related metallurgy.



I did a Google Patent search on the Manhattan Brass Company and got 10 pages of hits. Someone with better insight than I could go through this list and see if any could be relevant to the .45-55 case.

The url is:




It seems like this thread is on the right track to sorting out the use of the word “Manhatten” printed on Frankford Arsenal boxes for the .45-55-405 Carbine ammunition. This is from Colonel Hackley, in response to my question about it:

 "John - The subject came up a while ago and (we) decided to do some research on this using the Library of Congress Reference and Search Service and here is what we came up with--first the world "MANHATTAN" printed on the early .45 Rifle and Carbine loadings by Frankford Arsenal we believe stands for the company that furnished the copper-alloy plate that the case discs were stamped from.  There is an old-line company called Manhattan Brass and Copper Co. which has home offices in Maspeth, NY that traces its beginning through at least two reorganizations, back to the post-Civil War period.  In yesteryear, the original company operated a foundry and rolling mill in upper-state New York and we think they are the ones that supplied the Arsenal with the plate for the cases.  More research is needed on this, and when time allows we plan on trying to confirm this and locate the composition of the copper-alloy plate."

Perhaps this can give someone good at this type of research and already knowledgeable about the subject somewhere to start to confirm the purpose of the word “Manhatten” on the boxes, and find out the tecnical aspects of the metal provided to FA.

John Moss


In a little googling I found that Bloomfield, N.J. was (is?) home to metal rolling mills, including brass and copper, also including a close-but-no-cigar connection to Manhattan Brass Co. Perhaps more careful digging could relate that place to this firm or another involved in Frankford Arsenal’s efforts to develop their cartridge case material. Jack


Thanks all for your input and time taken to research this. I’ll pass the link to this thread on to Al Frasca on the assumption he has not been following along,


When Frank can not put the final answer to it that is a really deep question.

For those who do not know Col. Frank Hackley ,he was the last commander of Frankford Arsenal and supervised the closing of it , a lifelong student of ammunition ( especially US) and the primary author of the History of US Small Arms Ammo ; Hackley , Woodin and Scranton.

He is the authority on the subject.