Sea recovered tin of 11mm Gras blanks

Another collector I know bought this interesting tin of 11mm Gras blanks.

It is a brass tin of roughly 190 x 160 x 100mm (7" x 6" x 4") in size. The screw-in lid is roughly 100mm across. The seller told him that it was recovered by amateur Scuba Divers off the coast of Cornwall, UK in recent years.

It contains these packets of five 11mm Gras crimped blanks. I think they may be some sort of artillery primer as I’m sure I can make out the word “CANON” on the packet but I could be wrong. The packets seem to have survived fairly well considering their exposure to sea water. One of the packets had been opened when he got the tin, so we didn’t destroy one to see the rounds!

Here is one of the cartridges.

The headstamp is :

[color=#FFFFFF]–[/color]\ ART /
[color=#FFFFFF]–[/color]/ R S \

Does anyone have any info on the tin or the cartriges?


Amazing that they are in such good condition! Just thinking out loud, but what about use as “line throwing” blanks or for a harpoon gun of some sort? Was there ever any whaling done in the region?


IIRc canon is barrel in French.


11mm M1874 Gras Blanks were used for a number of functions:
besides training and salutes.

  1. Signal and Line Throwers
  2. Harpoon-guns
  3. Early primitive Trench Mortars Propellants ( Tube fitted with a side mounted Gras receiver and barrel stub) in 1914-15, before “proper” Stokes type mortars were develoiped
  4. Rail web punching tools ( for fitting fishplates during rail repair etc.)

The Date on the cases ( “82”) would place these cases still within the standard issue for Infantry use as training Blanks, but could also be for Signal or Line use. They are Military production ( “Art D”, and headstamp layout.)

Whether they are original 1882 Loads, or just Reloaded cases at a later date is difficult to say.

Nice, well preserved find.

Doc AV

Thanks for the replies. If anyone can post a non water damaged packet of these I would be interested in seeing it.