New Collector: what about shotshells?


#1

Hello, Everyone!

I’m new to the Forum and to cartridge collecting, and thinking about going with shotshells, because of their color and variety (high brass, low brass, all brass, paper, plastic, green, red, birdshot, buckshot, etc.)

Are collectors’ shotshells expensive, compared with rifled ammp?

Any recommendations for suppliers? Any good reference books?

Jim


#2

Welcome to the addiction
Shotshells in general are not expensive, but than again neither are metalics.
It’s only when you start getting into the “desirable, rare and exotic” that the prices go up (sometimes way up).

One easy (and cheap) way to start is to ask around at your local skeet & trap clubs for “donations” (also rifle and pistol clubs). A number of the folks there will be happy to donate some of the old “odds & ends” shells that they have kicking around.

A couple of things I would advise you to do sooner rather than later is to A) locate and purchase some basic referance material (I can’t advise you on what’s available for shotshells as they are not my area) and B) establish a list of what you have/collect (I use Excel myself) with the details your interested in IE: gauge, length, construction, color, shot size, headstamp etc.


#3

Jim–I agree with everything Tailgunner said and will add a couple more things.

If you have not already done so, join the IAA. It will be the BEST investment you will ever make for your collecting life.

Being a beginner you will most likely be interested in EVERYTHING. But with all cartridges, but especially shotshells, they are endless. There are well over 100,000 varieties. Most shotshell collectors I have known soon decide to specialize in certain areas only. Do you want to collect woldwide, British Only, Americian Only, Paper Only, Plastic Only? How about gauges, 10 gauge only, 12 gauge only (These are the 2 most widely collected) or all gauges (4 gauge to .360 gauge)? Do you collect one of each shot size for each type or only any shotsize (whatever you find first). How about Top Wads. MANY, MANY small hardware stores or Gunsmiths loaded or had made for them custom made shotshells with their name on the Top Wad or printed on the side of the shell. Or are you only interested in different headstamps?

I would suggest you put together a basic collection of at least one of each of the major gauges (4, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, .410 and .360). There are other gauges such as 11A, 11B, 13A, 18, etc. but now your getting into the Rare & Exotic, with prices to match (Over a $100 in some cases). There are also a series of what are called 3 gauge, 2 gauge, 1 gauge, 0 gauge, 00 gauge. Most of these (ALL are EXPENSIVE) are not really shotshells, although they are made like shotshells) but are actually Yacht Cannon shells for saluting, starting yacht races, etc. Some of the large bore shells were Punt Gun shells and were fired in 10-15 foot long guns mounted on row or punt boats for market hunting. These fired up to 2 lbs of shot and could kill 100 or more ducks at a time.

If you have not already found it, go to the IAA Homepage.

cartridgecollectors.org/

There are 3 different articles on Shotshell collecting:

An Introduction to Collecting Shotshells
by Ronald W. Stadt

Collecting Shotshell Boxes-American Examples

COLLECTING .410 SHOTSHELLS AND BOXES
by Ronald W. Stadt
As for references, if you are interested in mostly U.S. made shells, get a copy of the following:

Here are a few good references on shotshells:

Iverson, Richard J… 1988. The Shotshell in the United States. Circus Promotions. Jefferson, Maine. 233p.

Iverson, Richard J. and Strauss, Robert. 1991. Encyclopedia and Price Guide of American Paper Shotshells. 2 Vols. Circus Promotions. Huston, Texas. 438p. ISBN: 1879170035

For British shotshells look for the following:

Iverson, Richard J… . Eley Shotshells: 1828. Circus Promotions. Jefferson, Maine.

Rutterford, Ken J… 2006. Cartridges of the British Isles. (Shotgun). Arima Publishing. Suffolk, U.K… 360p. ISBN: 1845491114

Rutterford, Ken J… 1988. Collecting Shotgun Cartridges. David and Charles. London, U.K… 139p. ISBN: 0-09-166330X

One last parting shot (pun intended)–Most cartridge collectors consider shotshell collectors as a breed of their own and slightly crazy. But, to the general public ALL cartridge collectors are nuts.

Good luck on building your collection. Don’t hesitate to ask on this Forum ANY questions you may have, no matter how dumb or insignificant you think they are. We were all beginners at one time and I promise, no one will make fun of you and you will always get helpful (hopefully) answers.


#4

Excellent advice, Tailgunner, and thank you!

Jim


#5

WOW, Ron, you are certainly a font of information, and willing to share it. Thank you!

I believe I will take your advice on establishing a basic “gauge” collection first.

Otherwise…I’m still in the thinking stages. I’m interested in American shells, but also British: having been to England a couple of times, having some “gunny” friends over there, and always having admired the fine old English double guns.

I’m more interested in paper hulls than plastic. I can remember my Dad hunting with paper hulled shotguns when I was a kid.

And those “local” stamps strike me as very interesting. I did read Stadt’s “An Introduction…” article, and that was the first time I’d ever heard of this.

As far as brand names, specializing in a gauge, shot sizes, etc.: I haven’t given it a thought yet!

Thanks again,

Jim


#6

Jim–Believe me, I am NO “Font of information” on shotshells. I have been collecting cartridges since 1958 and shotshells are the one area of cartridge collecting I have never got interested in. Don’t know why. Guess it is just the shear number of them. They are pretty though, I will admit. I do have a basic collection of the major gauges for reference and about 500 or so others, but I DO NOT collect shotshells. I think what happened is that some years ago I put a few shotshells in a box in the back of a dark closet and the dang things mated and multiplied. That is what I think because I sure as heck did not buy them!!!

The best advice you have been given so far is that by Tailgunner. [color=#FF0000]START CATALOGING YOUR COLLECTION NOW[/color]. If you don’t, you will NEVER catch up. By the time computers for the home came along about 1981, I already had about 5000 cartridges that I had tried a dozen different ways to catalog on paper (none really good or portable). I started using a computer in 1981 and I still have never got ALL my collection (now about 12-15000) cataloged. Sure wish we had had computers when I started. A spread sheet of some type seems to work the best. It is easy to set up columns for all the information you want to keep track of or to add new columns as you think of new things you want in your catalog. There are several different programs available commercially that are dedicated to cartridge collecting needs, but they tend to work better for metallics than shotshells, in my opinion. Most of these programs are $100 up to $1000+.

If you have a digital camera, especially for shotshells because of their colors, you might want to keep a photographic record to your collection with the images linked to your spreadsheet catalog.


#7

Jim-A couple more things I just thought of. I do not know if you want to collect only live rounds or if fired cases are acceptable. For many of the older shotshells, fired cases may be all you can find. Also, remember until 1895, 99% of all shotshells were home loaded. The factories only sold primed or unprimed Empty cases. Another advantage to accepting empty cases (either new or fired), as long as they do not have live primers, they can be mailed to you. This is important considering your English contacts if you want to collect English shotshells.

Check your email for some other comments.


#8

While all the advice above is excellent, let me add one comment:

Collect what YOU like, for WHATEVER reason:
– gauge variations
– paper only
– US paper only or non-US paper
– by maker
– by color
– a single gauge only
– singles only or empty boxes or full boxes only
– or any combination of the above

There is no “right or wrong” collecting theme, and about half the population thinks any cartridge collector is a bit nuts, and half of the cartridge collectors think the folks who collect in a different are are nuts (but they, of course are perfectly normal).

Do it for fun, and enjoy!


#9

I have a spattering of collectible special-purpose 12ga shotshells (less-lethal, breaching, gas, incendiary, tracer, rubber, etc…) and those are fun to collect. Pepper is the man when it comes to those. I just noticed recently that Winchester was showing off a new .410 self-defense shell at the last SHOT show. It’s part of their Supreme Elite line, and they call it the PDX1-410. It has 3 copper-plated discs loaded on top of copper-plated shot, and these loads are intended almost entirely for use with the Taurus Judge pistols that can shoot 45 Colt or .410 shells:

And a neat video here:

[youtube][/youtube]


#10

[quote=“JohnS”]While all the advice above is excellent, let me add one comment:

Collect what YOU like, for WHATEVER reason:
– gauge variations
– paper only
– US paper only or non-US paper
– by maker
– by color
– a single gauge only
– singles only or empty boxes or full boxes only
– or any combination of the above

There is no “right or wrong” collecting theme, and about half the population thinks any cartridge collector is a bit nuts, and half of the cartridge collectors think the folks who collect in a different are are nuts (but they, of course are perfectly normal).

Do it for fun, and enjoy![/quote]

Great thoughts, John!

What I’ll probably do is assemble a basic all-around collection: paper and plastic and brass, various gauges and colors, just for the eye-appeal: and then get down to a specialty.

“Top wads” interest me, as does US or UK paper hulls.

Jim


#11

[quote=“DKConfiguration”]I have a spattering of collectible special-purpose 12ga shotshells (less-lethal, breaching, gas, incendiary, tracer, rubber, etc…) and those are fun to collect. Pepper is the man when it comes to those. I just noticed recently that Winchester was showing off a new .410 self-defense shell at the last SHOT show. It’s part of their Supreme Elite line, and they call it the PDX1-410. It has 3 copper-plated discs loaded on top of copper-plated shot, and these loads are intended almost entirely for use with the Taurus Judge pistols that can shoot 45 Colt or .410 shells:

And a neat video here:

[youtube][/youtube][/quote]

That Winchester .410 ammo interests me: though not as a collector’s item. ;-)

Jim


#12

Oh boy, another shotshell collector! I’m excited!
Look for an email Smoothbore.


#13

Chief

I wondered where you’d been on this thread. Took you long enough.


#14

To some of you long time shotshell collectors, hom many variations of a single gauge have you collected by American companies? Pictures of your collections displayed? Thanks, Joe


#15

Oh no! Now there’s two of them. ;)


#16

Oh no! Now there’s two of them. ;)[/quote]

Our ranks are growing! :-)

I bought a few inerts from a collector in the UK. I’m thinking that inerts might be a good option, better for international collecting: legal (and cheaper!) to post. I got a medley: paper and all-brass, pinfire, 12 and 16 bore. Still kicking around exactly what I want to specialize in: but in any case, I want a smalll collection of various types.

RON, thanks for all the e-mailed stuff you sent me!

Jim


#17

Hello all
I have been a member for sum time now but so far I have not really posted much but when I noticed shotshells I thought I would say hello, I have collected inert SAA most of my life but not got a huge collection but I have got a lot of shotshell cartridges most of mine are live & are UK or European being from the UK myself. I have tried to stick with paper and brass large bore mainly 10 bore , 8 bore and 4 bore It is a shame you are not in the UK as I have some spare ELEY paper 4 bore shotshells I like to help new collectors out if I can. If there is anything I can help with please ask.

cheers
Richard.


#18

Hello,
I’ve tried to answer you twice and each time my post disappeared from the forum after spending one hour !
Here again!

Why to collect shotshells ?

  1. most of the shells are less expansive than ordinary ctges (I used to have a pretty advanced reference collection and I stopped because the missing rounds were either too expansive or too hard to find)
  2. less people are collecting them therefore less concurrence
  3. “it is a new field where all is to be discovered (patents and samples). Due to the lack of books about them it is easy to make good discoveries at a cheap price
  4. the field by itself is in my opinion more interesting than ordinary ctges (and despite the fact I like very much the ordinary ctges!) Many more patents than for the ordinary ctges. In ctges history, the shotshells are older also
  5. You have more specimens for a given gauge than for a given ctge caliber, if you like the quantity, the diversity and the colours.
  6. If you make only a reference collection (one ctge for each given gauge, without taking into account the case length) you can go up to about 400 different calibers
  7. You have 3 different groups among shotshells (pinfire, centerfire, rimfire and strange ignition ones), Therefore you have a wide choice
  8. the last and not the less important point is the fact shotshells will be the last ctges you will be able to collect because of laws. Furthermore you have less problem to mail them or to travel with them, specially if you collect them unloaded (which is the most interesting way to collect them because , unlike the other ctges, the main tricks and patents are inside the case)

Collectors and shells depending on the country now:

  1. Not many collectors in France (3 and among them one is collecting only very old or pin fire ctges).
    France is the country where you have the most diversity for shotshells designs and where the oldest ones were manufactured. The French shells are not particularly beautiful (except some SFM and Manufacture de St Etienne ones), the pictures on the tubes being mainly advertisings for gunmakers.

  2. The same about Italy (2 or 3). Colours and pictures on the tubes are beautifull and most of the time indicating the powder used

  3. The same about Spain (1 or 2). Only two factories (most of their production being made abroad)

  4. Many collectors in Germany where you can meet very serious and knowledgeable people. Germany is a very interesting country because they have gauges unknown elsewhere (11 mm, 13 mm, 30 gauge, aso) or very scarce (18 gauge aso) and also very old shells. The design of the drawings on the tubes is more severe than the Italian ones but beautiful

  5. A lot of collectors too in Netherlands and despite the fact there were very few shotshells manufactured in this country these people are very very active (the Dutch ECRA forum is very busy and interesting)

  6. In England there are two shotshells clubs resulting in many collectors Apart from the British guys coming to this forum (who are very nice but who don’t collect shotshells unfortunately !!) my only contacts in Great Britain are a guy with a lot of British documentation (Jim B.) and another one who collects anonymously. It has being impossible for me to trade shells with them because as soon as there is Eley or Kynoch on the hstp they want a lot of Euros and secondly they swear only about British shells . But you will be surely luckier than me, I am sure, because you don’t have my bad character !. You have a lot of colours The drawings on the tube are interesting, and above all they have a lot of gunmakers proprietary headstamps (not always been made in England but in France !). The most interesting shells (from a technically point of view) are the older ones, not the coloured ones.

  7. Many collectors in the US, but a lot less than 20 years ago (this being due to the closing of a shotshells club they had). Some very knowledgeable people (very old guys not coming on this forum, but also some others you know already either specialised in general collection or in Rimfire ctges). About colours and pictures the US shells are the worst !!! But as soon as you entered into the patents field you will discover a lot of them and if you collect the brass shotshells you will find gauges not seen elsewhere (B series)…

Books and websites about shotshells

I recommend you the book “American shotshells’ by Iverson.
It is a must for US shotshells headstamps.
There are also two very good websites made by people coming on this forum about US shells.

About British books on shotshells they far less interesting, in my opinion, about techniques, than the original (or reprints) Eley or Kynoch catalogues.; But, about the companies stories they are OK.

About German shells, there is a very good book about pinfire ctges. There is no book on centerfire shells, and if you need good info you have to find the very old ctges catalogues (Bishweiller, Genshow, Alpha, GC Dorheim, aso) from before WWI

About French shells, there is no book. The best catalogues are the SFM and Manufacture de St Etienne ones before WW1

About Italian shells, no valuable book, only the good Fiocchi and L. Beaux catalogues from before WWII