Historical Question re. revolver cartridge prices


#1

Hi, I am hoping a cartridge expert can help me with a question relating to some research I am doing. I am trying to establish the retail price (in the UK) of revolver cartridges from about 1915, specifically of 7mm pinfire cartridges - ideally those manufactured by Eley Bros (but the prices of similar cartridges will be of assistance, even in US dollars). I’ve tried everything I can think of to find out but have hit a brick wall. Does anyone have any ideas about where I might be able to locate an answer?
Many thanks,
David


#2

David,

Google “Eley Cartridge Catalogs.” The top two listings that come up are for Cornell Publications, a company that reprints tons of gun/cartridge catalogs, including a large number of old Eley catalogs, one of which goes back to 1866. The 1912-1913 catalog retails for $17. I’ve dealt with these folks before and they seem to be honest and reliable, and with a real interest in making the old stuff available. This company should quickly end your search.


#3

Mel I can’t thank you enough - and embarrassingly simple to find via google too! I have just placed an order for the catalogue (as we Brits spell it) and hopefully this will provide the answer when it arrives.
Thanks again,
David


#4

David - I have copies of a number of Eley and Kynoch catalogues from about 1895 through to the 1930s. I will post some prices for you tomorrow.

Regards
TonyE


#5

That is very kind of you Tony, thank you. I will check back tomorrow.


#6

Welcome DavidB!

Here is a clip from the 1915-16 Rem-UMC Retail Catalog which was the very last UMC catalog to include pinfires.

It shows 7mm as $15 per M (1000) but sold 2 M per case.

So that is the very last wholesale price for pinfires manufactured in the USA.


#7

Oh wow, that’s excellent info Aaron! Thank you so much for posting that. I guess that means a box of 100 would have been about $1.5 and a box of 50 (which is what I’m interested in) about $0.75. As I understand it, the exchange rate in 1915 was about £1 to $4.70 which means $1 was worth 0.21 of a pound. With 20 shillings to a pound, if my maths is correct, a box of 100 would have been in the region of 4.2 shillings and, thus, a box of 50 about 2.1 shillings (or 2s 1d). That’s exactly the kind of price I would have expected so that is really very helpful indeed.


#8

David, also, remember that those are wholesale prices direct from manufacturer. That is what a shop paid for them and then marked them up to the consumer so it would be more for individual boxes usually.


#9

David - as promised I have looked up the price of 7mm pinfire in some of my old catalogues, although most are prior to the dates you wanted.

These are retail prices per thousand rounds.
Eley Bros.
1902: ball £1.10.0, shot £2.6.8
1910: ball £1.7.6., shot £1.12.6
1912: ball £1.7.6., shot £1.12.6
1914; ball £1.7.6., shot £1.12.6

Kynoch
1899: ball £1.5.0, shot £2.1.0
1902: ball £1.10.0, shot £2.6.8
1905: ball £1.15.0, shot £2.1.0
1912: ball £1.11.3, shot £1.17.0
1925: still listed but no prices
1935; No longer listed

Nobel
1912-13: No pinfires listed.
I trust this is of some help,

Regards
TonyE


#10

Aaron, thanks, I’d overlooked the wholesale element - that does make it rather difficult to estimate the retail price, especially in British currency.


#11

Tony, that’s superb info! Forgive my total ignorance but am I right in thinking that “shot” are shotgun cartridges and “ball” are normal revolver cartridges? On that basis, I assume that the price of “ball” cartridges is what I need, especially the 1914 Eley price which is almost exactly what I’m after. At a retail price of £1.7.6 (or 330 old pence) per thousand, and assuming that there was no increase in price for smaller quantities (which there probably was), then that would be 33 old pence (or 2s, 8d) for a box of 100 and 16.5 old pence for a box of 50 or 1s, 4d. If that is correct I would find it very interesting and useful because it is lower than I anticipated.


#12

Yes David, “ball” is ordinary revolver cartridges and “shot” is a shotgun version loaded with small bird shot (not much room inn a 7mm for much else).

Your prices are broadly correct, but as you suggest, I am sure there was an increase in price for smaller quantities from your friendly local gunsmith.

Let me know if there is any further information I can give you,

|Regards
Tonye


#13

An interesting project. Its probably accurate to assume about a 50% uplift from wholesale to retail prices.
The shot cartridges are another interesting aspect of pistol ammunition that we have commented on before. People like Eley made a lot of shot loaded pistol cartridges in those days. Far too ineffective for game shooting the theory is they were anti snake loads for parts of the empire where snakes were plentiful.


#14

Everyone has been very kind and I am so grateful for all the help. I think overall, on the information provided in this thread, I would be comfortable in saying that the retail price of a box of 50 pinfire cartridges in 1915 would most likely have been in the region of between two and three shillings (or perhaps even lower than 2s). I appreciate that adding a shilling or so (i.e. 50%) onto the Lefauchaux wholesale price that I calculated would take the retail price to just over 3 shillings but I imagine that, due to the exchange rate issue, the 1914 Eley figure is probably more accurate in respect of the UK price. An actual price for a box of 50 would be real nice but I suspect that is now impossible to establish. Many many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread.


#15

It may not be that impossible to establish the price of a box of 50 rounds. What would be needed is a catalogue from the Army and Navy Stores or similar for the period in question. somebody ought to have one as they were a big supplier of firearms and ammunition at that time.

Regards
TonyE


#16

Great minds obviously think alike Tony, I was literally just about to post the same thing! I’ve found an 1897 Sears & Roebuck catalogue online via google books which gives a price for a box of 50 .22 rimfire cartridges as 12c and a price of 1000 as $2.25. I make that an increase of 0.75c for the box of 50 . Applying the same ratio to the 1912 Eley price of 1000 pinfire you provided would only add a few pence to the price of 1s, 4d . However, it would certainly be useful to have a few more examples, especially from the UK in the early 20th century. I will search as best I can but if anyone else has some please post them!

Edited because I made a complete mess of the maths in my first attempt!


#17

Some years back I was able to order a reprint of and old Army and Navy Stores catalogue through my local library.

The British Library of course is favourite but their Newspaper Archive at Colindale can also be very good. As well as newspapers they have a lot of old magazines with interesting adverts. In your lunch break you can walk down to the RAF museum


#18

Hi Vince, I’ve tried a few newspapers and magazines from 1915 at Colindale and I found a few adverts for cartridges but they all said “prices on request”. Do you have any suggestions about what would be the best publications to search?


#19

David,

Here is an old French Armes Et Cycles catalog. I do not know if this is retail or wholesale but it is from 1914. And I am pretty sure it is retail as this catalog sells EVERYTHING.

Image is small, but it looks like the 7mm cartridges are 1.10 ₣ for a box of 25.


#20

This is great, I think we are getting somewhere now. Just to clarify re. the info from the 1897 Sears & Roebuck catalogue; if a box of 1000 was $2.25 then (with no discounts for bulk buying) one would expect 100 to be 22.5c and 50 to be 11.25c. The actual price for 50 was 12c (an increase of 0.75c). Now, 0.75c is 6% of 12c. Interestingly, I saw a reference in the catalogue, for other ammo, to a 10% discount for buying 1000 compared to 100.

Tony - If we apply the same % increase to your figure of 330 old pence (£1.7.6) per thousand then the cost of 50 should be 6-10% above the price of 16.5 pence, let us say 2 pence for the sake of argument, which should give us a fairly accurate retail price of no more than 18.5 pence, i.e. 1s 6d (or 1s 7d). Does that make sense to you? Are you also able to post more information about the catalogue from which you obtained the 1914 Eley price? It seems like a key document to me.

Aaron - Your French info appears to be consistent with the above (if retail). I looked up the 1914/15 exchange rate online and 1 franc was worth about 9 old pence. If 1.10 francs was the same value as 10 old pence then a box of 50 would have been 2.20 francs or 20 old pence, i.e. 1s 8d. It’s all starting to come together!

Vince - I should have said that I checked issues of Irongmongers Weekly, Hardwareman & Ironmongers Chronicle, Sporting Goods Reivew and The Gunmaker and Arms & Explosives and also The Morning Advertiser but drew a blank. Are you aware of anything I might have missed? I did find a mention in the Badminton Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, Sept-Dec 1914, that Eley shotgun cartridges are “retailed from 11/- down to 7/6 per 100 for 12 bores” but it said nothing about pinfire revolver cartridges.

Tony & Vince - Thank you both for the Army & Navy stores tips. The British Library appear to have a couple of catalogues from the right period so I will definitely check those out when I next visit.