Please help identify old cartridge casings. Pics and notes**


#1

I’m conducting research for an article to be published in an archaeological journal. I need help identifying a few of the cases I recovered during excavation.


Measurements and other information are as follows:

1). Brass case / case length approx 0.767" / rim diameter approx 0.445"
2). Copper(?)case / case length approx 0.560" / rim dia approx 0.383"
3). Copper(?)case / casewall length approx 0.724 / rim dia approx 0.449"
4). Copper(?)case / beveled rim / overall length 0.780" / rim dia 0.433" / case dia 0.3833" / measurements taken while case was intact
5). Brass case / case length approx 0.583" / rim dia approx 0.382"


#2

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9455

It is the second topic on the general discussion page where you posted.


#3

Pictures posted fine, some rim diameters and total case length measurements would help. Fractional inch would be best. Like with a micrometer.


#4

I’d say,

1- 38 short RF
2- ??
3- 38 short RF
4- 38 short colt
5- 32 short RF


#5

With regard to rim diameter, I suppose it matters if we are talking the outside dimensions of the case mouth at the rim, or the exact rim dimensions edge-to-edge from on top? If the dimensions are outside measurements, then I would tend to agree with Pivi as far as being .32 & .38 rimfires one way or another. Pretty common stuff for the 1870’s to 1920 era.


#6

All measurements that are labeled “rim diameter” are taken from the rim (across the headstamp) NOT the mouth. The pictures may not indicate that all case mouths are crushed flat.

Also, can you provide any source material for your identifications or do you just know based on experience? I would like to be able to provide references in my article but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to help me out with this.


#7

MOArchaeologist

NOBODY ELESE HAS CHIMED IN ON THE MANUFACTURER OF YOUR RELIC CARTRIDGE CASES SO I WILL. Nos. 1, 2 AND 3 WERE MANUFACTURED BY UNION METALLIC CARTRIDGE Co. OF BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT. THAT IS WHAT THE LETTER “U” INDICATES ON THE BASE OF THE CARTRIDGE. No. 4 I CAN’T HELP YOU ON. No. 5 WITH THE IMPRESSED “US” HEADSTAMP WAS MANUFACTURED BY THE UNITED STATES CARTRIDGE Co. OF LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS. I STRONGLY SUSPECT THAT REGARDLESS OF APPEARENCE, Nos. 1, 2, 3, AND 5 HAVE COPPER CASES. ALTHOUGH No. 4 MAY IN FACT BE A COPPER CASE I SUSPECT IT IS BRASS. STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN TO METAL THAT HAS BEEN BURIED IN THE SOIL FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. YOU DID NOT MENTION THE TIME PERIOD THE SITE YOU ARE DIGGING FALLS INTO - IF IT’S CIVIL WAR, NONE OF THE CASES YOU DEPICT ARE THAT EARLY. THE TIME FRAME DKConfiguration POINTED OUT IS CORRECT FOR THE CASES YOU DEPICT.


#8

Your data are quite close to the dimensional data reported on several books. Please note that old cartridges bear wide dimensional tolerances.

Your 4th round could also be a 38 S&W

Brandt reports these data about the 38 short colt (long case) and the 38 S&W

Rim diam: .428" -.442" vs .394" - .441"
Head diam: .373" - . .380" vs .373" - . 386"
case lenght: .733" - . 785" vs .725" - . 794"

We can say that these two rounds usually differ for their bullet diam. The 38 Short colt has a larger bullet diam


#9

MOarch

Putting the cartridges in the context of place and time period would help a lot.

Ray


#10

@GWB, Pivi, Ray, Matt- I appreciate your help. Lot of very good information.

I based my statements about case material off of scraping down to bare metal and judging what was copper colored and what was brass colored. Not very scientific but it’s not a big enough deal to pay for chemical analyses. As far as the time period - I have records of occupation at the site (a cabin) from roughly 1800-1930. My intention is to better fix the date as based on the ammo evidence recovered. I have a few dozen shell casings (rimfire, centerfire, shotgun) and the 5 I posted here are the only ones I wasn’t 100% sure of from my own research. Based on the findings, I’m comfortable with the 1870-1920 time frame. Also, the location is near Defiance, MO close to St. Louis.

Once again, thank you to everyone for your time and help.

Can I trouble anyone for a few book titles that I can use as reference sources?


#11

MOArchaeologist

FIND A COPY OF, “THE AMERICAN CARTRIDGE” AND “U.S. CARTRIDGES AND THEIR HANDGUNS” BOTH BY CHARLES R. SUYDAM. BOTH ARE OUT OF PRINT BUT PERHAPS A GOOD BOOK DEALER CAN LOACATE COPIES FOR YOU. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THE INFORMATION IN THESE 2 BOOKS IS NOT 100% ACCURATE - NO BOOK IS 100% CORRECT. GOOD LUCK!


#12

[quote=“MOArchaeologist”]
Can I trouble anyone for a few book titles that I can use as reference sources?[/quote]
Since you are near St Louis, there is a large cartridge show there the 3 days before Easter (April 16-19, 2014) at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel. A number of the posters will be there and there is a good chance you will be able to not only pick up some referance books, but unfired samples of the cartridge cases you dug up at your cabin.

Just a few books that you may be able to locate fairly easily (taken from a list of my personal reference library):

Cartridges, A pictorial digest of small arms ammunition Herschel C. Logan 1st 1948
Cartridges for Collectors Vol 1 Fred A. Datig 2nd 1956
Cartridges for Collectors Vol 2 Fred A. Datig 1st 1958
Cartridges for Collectors Vol 3 Fred A. Datig 1st 1967
Cartridges for Collectors Vol 4 Fred A. Datig 1st 1983
Manual of Pistol and Revolver Cartridges Vol 1 Brandt & Erlmeier 2nd 1967
Manual of Pistol and Revolver Cartridges Vol 2 Brandt & Erlmeier 1st 1980
Manual of Pistol and Revolver Cartridges Vol 3 Brandt & Muller 1st 1980
The Rimfire Cartridge, in the US and Canada John Barber 1st 1987
The American Cartridge Charles R. Suydam 2nd 1960 / 1973
Cartridges Of The World 4th Edition Frank Barnes, editor Warner 4th 1980
Cartridges Of The World 6th Edition Frank Barnes, editor Warner 1989
Cartridges Of The World 7th Edition Frank Barnes, editor Bussard 1993
Cartridges Of The World 10th Edition Frank Barnes, editor Skinner 2003
Cartridges Of The World 11th Edition Frank Barnes, editor Skinner 2006
Ammo Encyclopedia Michael Bussard 1st 2008
Ammo Encyclopedia Michael Bussard 2nd 2010
Cartridge Collectors Notebook C. H. Yust Jr, editor S.L.Fuller 1983

My personal reference library only comprises some 130 entries (I’m just a beginner compared to some of these guys)

Note that ALL reference books will have some error in them, the more “generic” the more technical errors there will be, the more specialized the fewer.


#13

@Tailgunner - That reference list is fantastic. Thank you very much. I appreciate the heads up on the upcoming convention. I’ll have to see if the university will cut loose any funding so I can pick up some research/reference materials.


#14

Some of these book can be found as e-books for few bucks