Frankford Arsenal Closing Gift?


#1

My grandfather worked for the Frankford Arsenal at the time of closing as a machine designer and engineer.
When I was a kid I was given a “silver bullet” from him and told to hold on to it. After he passed a few years ago I inherited a small box of the same rounds.

They appear to be chrome plated, but it could be nickel. I believe they were given to staff members as a parting gift when the facility closed. They are stamped “FA”, “1816” and “1977”; Frankford Arsenal, opening year and closing year of the plant.

Any thought of what these are, or any other information on them? I have never come across anything else like these and I am a loss on what to search for.



#2

Frank - This is a very well-known cartridge, with many specimens in private collections. It is often referred to as “the Frankford Arsenal Tombstone Dummy.” It exists in plated and unplated form, with what collectors are calling a weak headstamp, as well as the strongly stamped one you showed. I understand the so-called “weak headstamp” was due to a bunter perhaps not correctly made. I have heard that there were loaded rounds as well with this headstamp, but I don’t recall ever seeing one. I do not collect this caliber of ammunition, but simply out of interest in Frankford Arsenal, I put away a couple, as I recall, in a little miscellaneous “cartridges of interest” collection I maintain, mostly commemorative or cartridges with club, specific agency, or personalized headstamps. They are a nice round to have as a souvenir of history, no matter what you collect, and like many items of short-term production, they are not nearly so commonly found as they were. After all, they are now 37 years old! Tempus fugit.

By the way, your headstamp photo is beautiful. You must have a steady hand to achieve that sharpness holding the cartridge between thumb and forefinger.


#3

I’ve got nothing to add, but I have to say, very interesting cartridges, and very good photographs.
Thank you for sharing.


#4

Seems I went to the right place. Thanks so much for the information.

Like I said I have had them on my desk for a few years now not really knowing much about them. Exciting to get have some light shine through on what these things are.


#5

When I see them at shows they generally go in the $15-25 range. Yours are in very nice condition.
What does the “small box” you mentioned look like?


#6

The Tombstone" dummy was Cartridge of the Month a number of years ago

http://cartridgecollectors.org/cmo/cmo08oct.htm

The variations that John mentions are shown there.

NATO Dave


#7

[quote=“jonnyc”]When I see them at shows they generally go in the $15-25 range. Yours are in very nice condition.
What does the “small box” you mentioned look like?[/quote]

The box seems to be a random box from the facilities quality control lab, but I don’t think it is related the the rounds themselves.



#8

Very interesting box!


#9

I think I just heard Dave’s jaw hit his desk!


#10

Judging from the date on that box, I would agree that it is not a box for the Tomstone dummies, and probably just whoever scooped up so many of them at the closing of the factorry used to hold them. However, I suspect the box itself is a very good item also.


#11

SMUFA is the Army Munitions Command code for Frankford Arsenal. The date is the date of the label itself and does not necessarily refer to any particular cartridge or component that may have been packaged in the carton or when it may have been packaged. The Tombstone cartridges may or may not be original to the carton.

Ray


#12

[quote=“NATODave”]The Tombstone" dummy was Cartridge of the Month a number of years ago

http://cartridgecollectors.org/cmo/cmo08oct.htm

The variations that John mentions are shown there.

NATO Dave[/quote]

I have some with the case hole in the side. It was nice to see they were made like that and it was not my machinist grandfather bored looking to make some cool key-chains!


#13

As mentioned above, very nice cartridges and box! You have yourself a nice piece of history also!


#14

Ray - you are correct. I don’t know why I missed that. I was fixated on just the date itself as being the date whatever I thought might be in the box went thru the test that the box is labeled for. Clearly, it is the label date itself.

That hole at the bottom of one of the cartridges looks factory done. I suspect they intended to put a key chain on some of them, or else did it so that others could put a key chain on if they wanted. The size of the hole and the position of it seems to indicate that. Just a guess, of course.