I finally got the book

The Pittman Report;Volume 3(45/70 rifles carbines and ammunition)has finally arrived in Newburgh,from the Library of Congress. It was ordered in January.
Someone here,recommended that I read it in reference to Winchester contract ammunition for the Trapdoor Rifle or Carbine.
However,the only ammunition covered in the book,is Frankford.
The book must be read in the Library,and I will have access to it for a MOnth.
Much of the data in it is also covered in Al Frasca’s book#1,and Wait & Ernst"s book"Trapdoor Springfields"

I have all of the volumes of the Pittman notes, and while interesting and of some value, I find them unremarkable considering the volumes of literature we have today on the subject of U.S. Martial Arms. They are not a major use item in my own library. Most of the material is covered better in many other books, more modern, on this subject. This is not a criticism of Pittman’s work. For the times, the notes he made probably held more information on the subject than anything other than the Annual Reports of the Chief of Ordnance, only two of which I have, unfortunately. Pittman’s notes seemed to be more a vehicle for his very good drawings than for highly detailed information. Just my take on them.

What volumes of the Reports do you have, and does either have a name inscribed? I find that these ocassionally have the name of an ordnance officer written or stamped inside. I have 1878 (2 copies - looking to trade one for a volume I don’t have), 1879, and 1890. My 1879 is stamped Ira MacNutt, U.S.A. No. 101. MacNutt was a 1st Lieutenent at Rock Island Arsenal at the time; his initials will be found stamped on reloading tools and equipment. One of the 1878s is inscribed ‘Presented to P. D. Vigors, British Army, Washington, Dis Col - Dec 1880 -’. Vigors served in the 11th Devonshire and 19th Prince of Wales Regiments, and retired at the rank of Colonel. The 1890 has a card attached inside the front cover engraved ‘Compliments of Gen. D. W. Flagler, Chief of Ordnance, U.S Army’.

Guy - I have 1895 and 1896. Both of mine are stamped to the Santa Barbara Public Library, with shelf numbers had written in in very old-fashioned writing. Santa Barbara is a city in Southern California, north of Los Angeles. Both have the stamp “Witdrawn - Public Libra - Santa Barbara, California” fortunately, so they are not purloined compies. They were given to me years ago by an ex-FBI agent who was a Deputy Sheriff of San Bernardino County, farther east in the state, in the 1930s and was hired by the FBI from that job. He had a really good library, but it was more centered on chemical agents (law enforcement), edged weapons, and Western Art and History.

I wish I had more of these, but can no longer afford them. That is, if you can ever find one. I have never looked on the internet for them.

You really sabotaged me with this question. : ) Am working hard on my book and I haven’t looked at these volumes for years - I will find it hard to put them back now without spending time I can’t afford looking through them again. The 1896 one is almost 600 pages!. They are really full of interesting stuff.

1878 is an interesting volume, and includes the tests of the 1877 board convened to select a magazine rifle for military service, which resulted in selection of the Hotchkiss. Drawings of each of the 27 rifles tested are included. Also testing and illustrations of the Lowell battery gun, plus tests of numerous artillery pieces and projectiles, life saving guns, and even a report on leather tanning.

It appears we are talking about two different publications.

A- The “Pitman Notes” have been republished in recent years by Dean Thomas (just one of his many fine contributions to sharing knowledge!) and should be more or less available from new and used book sellers.

B- The “Annual Reports of the Chief of Ordnance” (ARCO) were published by the U.S. Army, sometimes as a stand alone volume, and other times as part of the Annual report of the Secretary of War which also included reports from the Chief Engineer, Chief Quartermaster, Commanding General, etc, and sometimes these will be found with several reports combined into a single volume, and thus the pagination will differ from the Department edition. The super detailed volumes with extensive drawings and reports of trials seem to have covered the years from about 1867 to about 1910. Before and after those years, the ARCO was much abbreviated indo a few dozen pages (at most) with some general information, usually concentrated on funding and major projects undertaken in the year.

The ARCO reports were for a “fiscal year” most often July 1 of one year to June 30th the following year.

Original copies are scarce on the market, these some years are available at a pretty steep price as a “print on demand” reprint edition, but I cannot speak to the quality of the many fold out plates usually included.

Many major universities and even smaller colleges were designated as federal document “Repositories” or maybe Depositories" and had copies of these sent to their libraries every year along with tons of stuff from all branches of the government. These are generally known to the librarians as “the serial sets” and the librarians are usually very helpful to users and glad to see their dusty, must old books beign used and appreciated. However, these were often printed on high acid paper that is brittle and crumbly and does not hold up well to rough treatment involved with photo copying.

The ARCO is a treasure trove of wonderful and obscure info, both on U.S. and foreign arms and ammunition.

John - I think that Guy is fully aware that we are talking about two different books - I know that I am since I have all of the Pittman series, as well as two different volumes of the Annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance.

I mentioned in my initial posting on this thread that while for the times, the Pittman papers were probably quite good, they are nothing remarkable and not really comparable with the contemporary ARCO’s for detail and wealth of information. That is what caused the discussion between Guy and I here.

As you know, on this Forum, and any other, one thing leads to another.

FWIW: Some of the late 19th century ARCO and ARSW are available for viewing on Google Books.


I am afraid to look. They might interest me to the point I want to print them out. I don’t have the time or the room to do that.


Just got back home and saw your thread. It was me who recommended The Pitman Notes.

You must have a copy different than mine. Mine has a lot of information on the contract cartridges. Boxes, crates, cartridge components, sectioned cartridges, etc.

It also has the 1882 Report of the Board on Magazine Arms that Guy mentioned.

Reprints of two versions of the [b]Description and Rules for the Management of the Springfield Rifle Carbine, and Colt’s Revolver, Calibre .45.[/b]Lots of good stuff not found anywhere else, IMHO.

It’s a reference that most serious collectors had and used.