German WWII 9mm box labels


I was wondering what the significance is of the different fonts used on these German 9mm box labels. I used to think it was just an old-version / new-version thing, but the two boxes below are both dated 1943 and one has the regular font, and the other has a Gothic font:

It had always seemed to me that the original 1941 “black bullet” version of this ammo seemed to more often have the Gothic font as opposed to the later versions from 43, 44, and 45 which had typical Arial font.

Also, I recently got a hold of a box of 08 SE 9mm. I scanned all three sides of the box label, then put it together and edited it in a photo program to get this image (some text from the 2 folds is missing or obscured):

Does anybody have any better or odd & interesting images of these labels or boxes?


The one below is a typesetters nightmare… A mixture of Fraktur -the german name for what is usually called “gothic” type and grotesk which is a modern (1918 -) font without any “teeth” (serifs) i.e. no downward lines from the top of a T, no “feet” on an A etc. The typefont with the original roman design is called Antikva by typesetters.
The mix of font styles is a real mess, but probably depended on what the printers had at hand when the labels were made. In other words: If it could be read by a soldier, it was all right.


I’d guess they used some kind of templates. If you look at the last label,

Pistolenpatronen as “static template” texts comes in Fraktur, it will show for this cartridge lot as well as on the former and the future.

1943 dnh 57 as “dynamic variables” information comes in the other font, this information is only there for this lot.

Those templates could have been used until the are worn. That could explain why dnh as one of the makers “with history” still used the old style template while oxo as a newcomer has the ISO font in the template.


Hey Dk,

My two cents is that there was no meaning at all in the font selection. Looking at my 7.92 boxes, I have them as early as 1932 with plain block lettering, and as late as 1945 with the fancy script fonts. Makers also change back and forth from one type to another, and back again. So, it isn’t really even based on manufacturerer. You could also go mad looking at the many different ways they presented the information.

If you go back to WWI, the few boxes of 7.92 and 9mmP I have are all in script.

My guess would be that the big manufacturing plants used small printing firms to make their labels, and the job went to the low bidder that produced a label with correct, and readable information. These small shops probably used whatever they had. With the Germans in WWI & II there were two rules for labeling ammo. Rule #1 was always do it exactly the same way. Rule #2 was ignore rule #1.

By the way, great job putting that SE label into one picture from a three sided scan! I should do that with all my 9mmP labes like that.


Another complication of the shift from Fraktur to the conventional Latin alphabet was the change in official opinion in Germany during the second war that Fraktur was very Aryan to the view it wasn’t Aryan at all. As Anna Russell said in another context “I’m not making this up.” Jack


I have no idea what the German Mil-Spec was for the font to use on box labels.

I have discovered that all the manufacturers of red plastic P08 Ex cartridges changed their font style in 1943. The three manufacturers of the red plastic rounds in 1943 were ay, lpk and nts. All three can be found with both serif letters and non-serif letters in 1943. All pre-43 headstamps (including those of aux) only use serif letters and all post-43 headstamps only use non-serif letters.

It seems pretty clear to me that somebody in the German Army procurement organization changed the specification for the P08 Ex rounds to change the letter style on the headstamp.




Thanks to all! As usual, very informative.


The reason might be race political. The “Gothic” was officially named “Fraktur” - not a german font, but claimed as jewish letters by the Nationalsozialisten - So its use was forbidden.

Here is the original document signed by Bormann

Here is a translation in english … decree.asp

There is a change in manuals, newsletters. books, schoolbooks and educations, traffic and road plates ect. and Goebbels raise a big propaganda wave about these Judenlettern.
After that only straight german letters where allowed.



The “Propaganda” font was used widely in advertising and for signage especially on the railways and on stamps. You could see this in the East Berlin S-bahn suburban railway signage until 1989-90 where surviving name boards in glass enamel told the station name in proper “German” text.
It was difficult to read in small sizes, so it was not used much on small labels, tickets etc.


Interesting that the order came out in 1941, but they didn’t get around to changing the headstamps on the P08 Ex rounds until 1943. When was the change made on 7.92x57 Ex, or was it ever made???

A quick look at 9mm Para headstamps used by Germany in WWII indicates that serif letters were dropped in between 1941 & 1942. I wonder if the pattern is followed on other calibers.





Boxes and labels for the 7.9mm Ex are a pretty scarce item. I don’t have any myself.
Here are some drawings of the ones I’ve seen. It looks like they made the font change in 1941 (at least on some).


Sorry, I was talking about the 7.9 Ex cartridges and when (or if) the headstamps changed from serif letters to normal letters).



There doesn’t seem to be any pattern on the 7.9mm Ex headstamps.

Examples from my collection:
Polte § with serifs through 1940
aux with serifs 1941-1944
P28 all without serifs
P131 (asb) with serifs 1940
P413 without serifs 1939-1940 (X in material code has serifs)
edq without serifs 1940, 1941, 1944
ay with serifs 1941-1942
byw without serifs 1941
lpk with serifs 1943


Unless I’m misunderstanding the issue here–always a possibility–in Nazi Germany the shift was from Fraktur (a German version of what is called black letter or “old English” in English useage) to the ordinary type faces we see daily, either of the sans-serif version or the more common versions with serifs. It seems unlikely to me the powers that be specifically identified only the sans-serif type faces as ideologically acceptable. In fact Bormann’s decree was itself typed on a typewriter having one of the many type faces with serifs. Jack


Jack - I agree that in this case, the study of the headstamps serves no purpose, other than to see when the Germans stopped using serifs on them. I can’t think, off hand, of any regular German military headstamp made after the WWI era that has the headstamp in “Factur” print. Some have serifs and some do not, but none of them are what I would call Factur, or “German Gothic.”

Am I wrong?

Some of the dummy rounds, in 7.9 x 57, by the way, have mixed headstamps - for example “lpk” has no serifs on the manufacturer’s code in either 42 or 43 dates, but all other entries, the “S”, “Ex” and the date have serifs.

The box labels are probably more help in understanding the change from “Judenlettern” to more modern script. In a way, it is a shame to even discuss it, although things like this must be resolved for the sake of knowledge, but the obsession displayed by the “need” to change lettering styles on documents, etc., as outlined in the criminal Bormann’s letter, is repulsive.

John Moss


I agree with JohnMoss on the political aspect of our research, but sometimes one must look past that and finish the report (or whatever) for the sake of historical documentation. When Alfred C Mierzejewski wrote his “The collapse of the German war economy 1944-45” he had to look beyond the nationalistic and racist BS Albert Speer et. al. embellished their reports with, to get to the truth: US and british ordnance dropped on the german railways from up high wrecked production of practically everything in Germany.
And the Cartridge part:
(Two red plastic ex:)
dnb 1941 no serifs
byw 1941 no serifs

eta: spelling


For the record, Soren and I are in perfect agreement. That is why I said “…athough things like this must be resolved for the sake of knowledge…!” As distasteful as parts of history are, the cannot be ignored when aspects of them touches upon the study of any subject.

John Moss


Some have a printing facility indoors like Polte, DWM Lübeck, and some let the printing do outdoors by a specialized company’s like P491/fer.

The size, color, height of the characters from the label was prescribed. Each company/printer could take the type of character he wants.



My observation is as Dutch says. Although less and less manufacturing plants were using the serif font as time went on, it was still used right up to the end of the war on some labels. The one thing that remained (at least to some degree) consistent was the information given, and the general format.


I am not an expert on print, but once again, I think that the presence or absence of serifs on the letters of printed material, or even headstamps, were not considered “Faktur” or a prohibited form of printing due to supposed Jewish origin. Print on stuff to do with cartridges began being “modernized” by the elimnation of Serif numbers and letters in the late 1920s, I believe, somewhat inconsistently even within the same firms. As pointed out in the last couple of replies, the process continued in Germany right to the end of the war.

John Moss