Spencer Headstamps


#1

Here is a little piece I worked up for another forum that deals with only “The War Of The Rebellion.” (in deference to Ray) stuff. Thought it might also benefit some collectors, especially beginners, on this forum.

What follows will give you some idea of dates and companies. I will not, in this treatment, cover all the Spencers without headstamps. All headstamp drawings are from “Rimfire Headstamp Guide” by George Kass and Ron Merchant, et al.


Headstamp: Impressed 50 CAL

Company: National Arsenal, Springfield, Massachusetts

Years: Early 1860’s

Found on: .56-50 Spencer Experimental Rounds Only. Strictly speaking, these were not Spencer cartridges. They were the prototype for the .50-60 Peabody, but are often mistaken for .56-50 Spencers.


Headstamp: Impressed C.D.L.

Company: C.D. Leet

Years: 1864-1866

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer


Headstamp: Impressed C.T.M.Co.

Company: Crittenden & Tibbals Manufacturing Co.

Years: 1865-1866

Found on: .56-50 Spencer Only.


Headstamp: Impressed D

Company: Dominion Cartridge Company, Ltd. (Canada)

Years: ca.1886-1927

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


Headstamp: Impressed F.V.V. Co.

Company: Fitch, Van Vechten & Co.

Years: 1864-1865

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer


Headstamp: Raised H

Company: Winchester Repeating Arms Co.

Years: 1874-ca.1880

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


Headstamp: Impressed H

Company: Winchester Repeating Arms Co.

Years: ca.1880-1927

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


Headstamp: Impressed J.G.

Company: Joseph Goldmark

Years: 1864-1866

Found on: .56-50 Spencer Only


Headstamp: Impressed J.G. (underlined)

Company: Joseph Goldmark

Years: 1864-1866

Found on: .56-50 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer (Only one known specimen)


Headstamp: Raised S.A.W.

Company: D.C. Sage ammunition Works

Years: 1864-1866

Found on: .56-50 Spencer Only


Headstamp: Impressed S.A.W.

Company: D.C. Sage ammunition Works

Years: 1864-1866

Found on: .56-50 Spencer Only


Headstamp: Raised U

Company: Union Metallic Cartridge Co.

Years: ca.1877-ca.1880

Found on: .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


Headstamp: Impressed U

Company: Union Metallic Cartridge Co.

Years: 1885-ca.1920

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


Headstamp: Raised US

Company: United States Cartridge Co.

Years: 1885-1908

Found on: .56-46 Spencer, .56-50 Spencer and .56-52 Spencer and .56-56 Spencer


#2

Ron

Thanks for that! I sure could have used that info a year or two ago when I was sorting out my Spencers. Now I’ll have to dig them out again to make sure I have them cataloged correctly.

And Ron, it’s more correctly called “The War Of The Rebellion.” Especially to a Yankee like you. ;) ;)

Ray


#3

Ray–Check out the edited version of the posting. Anything to make a Rebel Boy happy!!


#4

Hello !
From all of these Spencer, which one is the scarcest ?
thanks
JP


#5

The raised ‘U’ 56-56 and 5650 are quite scarce.


#6

It’s hard to say which is the scarcest. This is also affected by the caliber, bullet etc. There are two sizes of impress “J.G.” The small one on a 56/50 is fairly common and the large 56/50 “J.G.” is very hard to find. The raise “S.A.W” is fairly hard to find. A Raised “U” in 56/56 is not an easy one to get either.

Probably the rarest one is not listed here. That’s the impressed “.50 CAL” made by Frankford Arsenal in the late 1860’s.

Paul


#7

As a general rule I thought raised hstsps were scarcer than impressed hstp.
But from your comments I see it is not true.

After the Dutch show I will post pictures and drawings (with hstps) of all the ctges I have for a given caliber, or send them to both of you by pm in order of not overloading this forum.

If one of you could help me to keep only the scarcest one by caliber, I would appreciate.

Last time I sorted my RF collection was 20 years ago when George Kass visited me. It is a long time ago !!!

JP


#8

Something worth noting about Spencer headstamps is that in the period of their greatest use most Spencer cartridges lacked headstamps. In my long-ago youth I found quite a few Spencer cases in the American West in calibers 56-56 and 56-50 and of the lot only one, bearing the SAW headstamp, was marked. JH


#9

I used to be “into” Indian Wars history in a big way and did a lot of metal detecting at different battle sites in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. I noted that very few of the Spencer cases were headstamped. Being a good friend of the late Hank Weibert I had the opportunity to study his collection of artifacts from the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Of the more than 1100 cases that we catalogued only 40 were Spencers. Of those, only 2 were headstamped, 1 SAW and 1 raised H.

Ray


#10

A couple of comments concerning my work-up on the HEADSTAMPED Spencers. I agree that perhaps 80-90% of the Spencers had no headstamp. But, as stated in my original post, I was only covering those WITH HEADSTAMPS.

To try to identify all the un-headstamped rounds would be difficult to do in writing. So many hard to describe features must be considered. It is the overall look of a round that aids in it’s makers identification. The best source of information to identify the maker of these un-headstamped rounds is probably Barber’s book “The Rimfire Cartridge 1857-1984”

Concerning the “CAL. 50” headstamp, it was not included because of it’s purely experimental status. The original posting was on the “Civil War Projectiles” forum and the purpose was to aid relic hunters to ID the headstamped Spencers they might find in the field. Since the "CAL. 50"
headstamp would most likely never be found in the field
I choose not to include it.

A second purpose of the original post was to aid the relic collectors in separating those rounds which could have been used in the “The War Of The Rebellion.” (There Ray–Are you happy?) and those produced at a later date.


#11

In the interest of completeness I have added the “50 CAL” headstamp to the original post.


#12

Rons right, strickly speaking the “50 Cal” was an experimental headstamp and probable did not belong with the commercial Spencer headstamp list. The “50 Cal” headstamp did occur on a pre-56/50 Spencer type as well as a pre 50/60 Peaboby type.

Paul


#13

This thread has got me to thinking: is there good evidence the 56-50 actually attained field use in the war? Marcot does show orders for the ammo in the late winter and spring of 1865 but one wonders if the Spencers and their 56-50 ammunition actually saw service before Gen. Johnston’s surrender. Have any 56-50 cartridges or cases been recovered from known Civil War sites? JG


#14

JG

I’m not an exspurt on the Second War For Independance but I thought the Spencer was in use as early as summer 1863. Wasn’t it used at the battle of Chickamauga, playing a key role there?

Ray


#15

Ray: I’m not up to citing chapter and verse here, but I think the 56-50 was essentially developed by Frankford in 1864 and adapted to the M1865 Spencer carbine (and a few rifles). Marcot does show orders placed for this specific caliber, as distinguished from the original 56-56, in early 1865 but my feeling is that few, if any of the arms with accompanying ammo ever made it into issue before the end of hostilities. The 56-56 was the standard Spencer caliber during the war and the 56-52 was, as I understand it, CM Spencer’s response to the 56-50. He didn’t think the very long case partially covering the bullet’s ogive a good idea. Many of the older texts (Logan, for example) mention use of the 56-52 in the war but that clearly is in error. JG


#16

JG

My error. I was thinking “Spencer” and your question obviously was in regard the 56-50 cartridge specifically.

Ray


#17

In Dean Thomas’ “Round Ball to Rimfire” he states the first order delivery of .50 caliber M1865 Spencer carbines occurred on April 3,1865 (132 carbines) followed by another 327 on April 12th. Lee surrendered April 9th and the War in the west ended around May 26th. I would think few if any of these 56/50 Spencers carbines ever made it to the field during the War.

George Hoyem wrote on 56/50 Spencers cartridge in “The History and Developement of Small Arms Ammunition” volume #1 that “no Spencer carbines chambered for this cartridge were finished in time for use in the Civil War.”

Paul