INFO NEEDED - 1920 box of 9mm luger pistol shells

Does anyone have any information on this ammunition? A friend is trying to interpret all the different abbreviations on this box label. Maybe some of our overseas collectors and experts will have some info on the abbreviations? I thank you for your time and help :-)


This ammo was loaded in 1920. It is ball ammunition. The loader looks like Spandau Arsenal with a commercial name. The Initials appear to be D.W.Sp which is likely Deutches Waffen Spandau or something similar.

The cases were made by Spandau. I suspect they are late WWI cases loaded after the war.

The bullet was made by some plant with the initial M, but I am not home and don’t have my records. M is a known maker of 9mm bullets during WWI.

A very interesting box!



Jason (and Lew) - I second the motion that this is a really interesting box, and a hard one to find. I have never actually seen one - just in pictures. I am surprised to see the “S” after "H

For D.M., I’d be looking towards the DWM branch in Karlsruhe which continued to use the DM (Deutsche Metallpatronenfabrik) abbreviation well past the 1897 unification of DM and Loewe’s gun branch to DWM (Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken).

D.W. in 1920 could also indeed represent ‘Deutsche Werke’, the commercial company that was a spin-off of the old Erfurt military arsenal.

It’s not unlikely that part of the Spandau arsenal also entered ‘Deutsche Werke’, as many other military installations and wharfs did.

I can’t recount this story with all its twists and turns, but basically DWA was the former Spandau arsenal operated briefly in 1920 and '21 as a commercial facility. The Allies didn’t buy this and insisted on the termination of the project, including the removal of much (most? all?) of the small arms and ammunition production capacity of Spandau. I believe Vlim is correct that the Deutsche Werke plant in Erfurt, producer of the Ortgies pistol, is another part of this complex story. This is a difficult series of events to find in English-language sources. JG

Did some poking around and found several sources confirming the Deutsche Werke / Spandau link.

The former Konigliche Gewehrfabrik Spandau was made part of the newly founded ‘Deutsche Werke AG’ in 1919. It existed in that state until 1922 when the premisis were to become part of a new company.

Thank you gentlemen. this completely confirms why a box label normally associated with Deutsche Werk A.-G. would show the cases made at Spandau. Even in the WWII era, there are instances of box labels using the new code for a factory for one element of the cartridge and an older code for the same factory for another element of the cartridge.

I do not see this as having anything what-so-ever to do with Deutsche Waffen - und Munitions Fabriken, either Karsruhe or Berlin Borsigwalde, as while it is true that they used the D.M. headstamp late (on all their military 7.9 for WWI German military use, it would seem), the only 9mm Para German military headstamp known from the exact period in question is Deutsche Werk A.-G.'s use of the “D.W.A.” headstamp. Also, Polte made exerzierpatrone in 9mm with the normal “P 21 Ex” style of headstamp in 1921, which is a whole different story altogether. I just didn’t want people to think I did not know of that early 1920s use on 9mm cartridges.

Regarding the way the “DW” is shown on the box label, with “Sp” as well, I wonder if DWA ever used the name "Deutsche Werk A.-G. vormals Spandau Gewehr und Munitionsfabrik, or anything similar to that with the “vormals” form? A question, not a statement of fact. I will admit those letters look more like DM to me but I don’t read this old German script well at all, so Lew is probably correct that it is “DW”. Regrdless, it is the same box as he shows in his book pertaining to the D.W.A. headstamp, simply a different date by a few days.

Thanks so much guys! So grateful for all this detailed information on this box and amazing history. I am always amazed and the knowledge base that contributes to the forum. So many specific specialties of interests that are all connected to ammunition. Thanks so much! Constantly learning! Their is so much history to be learned threw ammunition. Who new their would be so much to learn behind all those symbols in a foreign language on a old box of bullets.


Here’s one of the DWM boxes that John touched on, this one made in 1918 and missing the center portion of the label. However, the discussion here has helped me to decypher what remains, as it has the same format. The headstamp is DWM K 9 18.

I can live with ‘Deutsche Werke - Spandau’, for the somewhat obvious reason that the Spandau arsenal was called the Spandau arsenal because it was located in the Spandau district of Berlin.

Since the newly formed ‘Deutsche Werke A.G.’ had a number of locations, it would have made sense to note the location in the name.

Sort of ‘Deutsche Werke A.G., Spandau Branch’.

Other locations were ‘Deutsche Werke A.G., Erfurt’ and ‘Deutsche Werke A.G., Kiel’.

Vlim - that makes a lot of sense - much more than the “vormals Spandau” theory I cooked up. I tend to overlook the simple things and make things more complicated than they are.

You guys are awesome! Thank you all very much. I do not know much about this speciality of collecting or ammunition history very well and was amazed at all the detailed info. I am just curious, why they would use 2 different abbreviations on the same label for the same arsenal: i.e. Sp and S for Spandau? Really thankful for everyones help explaining this label.


Am finally home and had some time to poke around. I have this identical box in my collection. I eased the end open and it is full of DWA headstamped ammunition so it is probably DW-Spandau and the conclusions reached by the guys on this thread are correct.