Salvaging ammo boxes

All of us had the following experience: you see a beat up, destroyed ammo box, either partial or full (with all the original rounds), the price is right, maybe $2 to $5. What do you do? I grab the box with a hope of finding later on the exact opposite, a nice box with no rounds. What are other points of view? To attempt to restore the ruined box? Probably cost prohibitive. Or not to resettle rounds into a better looking box? This may create a hybrid, the rounds may be from a different lot.


I will buy a beat-up carton if there is any chance at all of restoring it to a presentable appearance. The more uncommon the carton, the more the justification for doing so. I see nothing wrong in doing that as long as It’s obvious that it has been restored.

I don’t understand some collectors who will frown on any kind of restoration when it comes to cartridges. They’d not hesitate to restore a 70 year automobile or airplane but not a simple cardboard carton??

BTW, that carton that you pictured is a lost cause, IMHO. ;)


I’ll take a damaged box with label if I need the image for my files or a book. With a damaged label I can just scan the box/label into an image scanner and then reconstitute what it should look like based on known printing. Sometimes you can’t see exactly what should be printed, and in that case I leave it as blank with just the background color of the label, but if enough of it is present to interpolate some text, I can make it in photoshop for a file or printed photo. Like the German 9mm 08SE photo below, showing original, and my corrected version:

Alternatively, you can do a virtual reconstruction as well :)

The single biggest enemy of cartridge boxes and cartons is tape. The carton shown here was a disaster when I got it - every edge heavily taped, with no less than 3 types of tape - cellophane, masking, and electricians. I spent several hours with acetone, laquer thinner, and alcohol removing the tape and the dried adhesives. The result, while not perfect, saved the carton.

Why would I spend so much time on an ordinary WW II Cal .30 Tracer carton? What’s your guess?

Boxes should always be saved if you can, even if its not a great interest of yours but for posterity. There may be more of a story lurking there. A lot of collectors overlook boxes because its not their thing. However, often its the only documentary evidence remaining. How often on here have boxes provided information that simply would not be available anywhere else?

Take a small enqury on here recently about a cartridge maker in the 80s Nevins. I must have thrown away dozens of his boxes. More fool me!

Why would I spend so much time on an ordinary WW II Cal .30 Tracer carton? What’s your guess?


because it’s an early M2 in a M1 box . . . . .
H/S shoud be SL 43

Rene wins the prize!

During 1943 the demands of war resulted in some of the Ordnance Plants using cartons and boxes that were not correct for the cartridges being manufactured. I found three of these cartons, all full of M2 Tracers that I bought fore mere pennies. The other two boxes were in equally bad condition. The M2 Tracers, in their own right, are not common so I made a double killing.

As Vince said, there may be a story lurking inside an otherwise ordinary carton or box. I’ve stumbled on a lot of them over the years.


I could really kick myself for the boxes I have discarded over the years.