Two unusual German 9mm P08 boxes from '35 & '44

I picked up these two interesting boxes at ECRA. The first very superficially resembles a normal WWII Army box, but is very different. The label contents lack any of the data required on German military boxes from the period.

This ammo was loaded in 1944 as is obvious since since the box makers stamp indicates the box was made in 1944.
In addition the cartridges in the box have different dates and lots which vary from 7-43 to 7-44 with most being lots 17-43 and 19-43. The last known case lot of 9mm P08 ammunition documented is 12-44.

Since, in 1944, there were essentially no commercial customers for P08 ammunition, and this is clearly not a German military box, it is almost surely intended for some element of the Nazi organizations who were not being supplied by the military.

A translation of this label would be appreciated.

The second box, by Polte, is about 10 years earlier than the DWM box. It seems likely that it was probably a relatively small lot (18-35) since the label with the data areas blank and the load data, including quantity was handwritten.

The cartridge (hst: P * 24 34) is entirely ordinary. Earlier and later boxes in my collection are fully printed. The use of 1934 cases on Lot 18-35 ammunition seems resonable since My box with headstramp ( * 9 35) is load lot 44-35. Perhaps the printed labels for this lot did not arrive, or arrive on time and some, perhaps all of the labels had to be completed by hand.

Has anyone seen similar box labels from the period?

Other explanations are welcome.


“Für Pistole 08 beschränkt geeignet (vereinzelte Hülsenklemmer)” is the same warning that could be found on military boxes:
“Limited useabilty in Pistol 08 (sporadic failures to extract)” because the steel cases were not well suited for the step in the P08 chamber.

Edit: In my view the ammunition is definitely not for the military, which would have insisted on printing the code of DWM Karlsruhe on the label, even with mixed lots. Even as late as 1945 that system was considered important enough to assign a lot of new codes. I suspect that rejected military lots still in stock were considered good enough for some non-military recipient.

Lew - The label basically says “for limited use in Pistol Model 1908. Occasional case sticking.” This is normally found as a secondary label on boxes, more often on the Tragschlaufen 832-round carriers. It may be an updated label of that which says “Nur in Maschinenpistolen verschiessen,” which is usually found on earlier dated Tragschlaufen than the "Occasional case sticking label is.

I have this as a separate label on Tragschlaufen for 1943 kam 11, 1944 ak 23, and 1944 wa 20. I have the “only shoot in submachine guns” label, indicating not that it is too hot for pistols, as once widely believed, but simply that the quality is not up to using it in a precision (read that “cranky”) weapon like the P.08, on the 832 round carrier from 1942 dou. 38.

It is unusual in having a makers name on this label, or at least this is the first I have seen of one. That could indicate that the box was destined for training facilities, where 100% reliability was not so critical. I don’t know when Germany quite the practice completely, but at one time, equipment that was not to leave Germany was marked with full names of the maker, while at the same time, equipment that could very likely go beyond the borders were marked with manufacturer’s codes. You see this in holsters, with police holsters, up to a point, being marked with the full maker’s name. After all, a country does not embark on a war of conquest with any idea that enemy troops will ever be on their own soil.

If not military (I am going by the blue-striped box), than it is likely a police or para-military (SA, NSKK and the like) contract, which I don’t consider commercial (we have discussed that topic more than once :-) ). I could not totally discount military use at training facilities, however. Simply not enough information to come to a definite conclusion that it is NOT military, in my view.

John Moss

I was surprised to see the DWM name on the label, and the cases with “faa” which pretty well gives away the code.

I consider it “non-military” since it does not comply with the German Army (military) specification for boxes. I have seen boxes, particularly those with CWS cases marked with a seperate sticker indicating they were for training only. If this was the military marking for training only ammo, then it would have had that sticker.

It does make sense that if this ammo was going to a Nazi organization, particularly a para-military one, it would still use the identification for steel case ammunition just like it does for the mE bullet.

Thanks for the insights!

Any ideas on the hand labeled box???


No, I don’t have any ideas on it other than what you mentioned yourself. It is an interesting box for a collection, likely scarce or rare in this caliber. I don’t recall if I have seen one before or not, and I don’t have one in my collection.

However, I don’t attach any particular importance to it. As you say, maybe for a small lot of ammo or perhaps a shortage or delay in getting a fully printed label for that lot. The information on it is standard stuff, so for me, the only interesting thing is that these handwritten labels do exist in 9 mm. They are not uncommon on 7.9 x 57 labels, by my memory. I recall have quite a few in my collection like that when I was still collecting 7.9 x 57 stuff.

John M.

Thanks John. The info on handwritten 7.9x57 labels is interesting. It has to be very time consuming to hand write labels 15 and 16 round boxes on lots that must have run into the tens of thousands of rounds! It would be interesting to understand the circumstances that would justify this effort, particularly in 1935 when there was no war or apparent urgency to get this lot of P08 ammunition out the door.


I believe that sometimes these labels are actually machine-copied from an hand-printed one. I cannot tell from the picture if your label is itself handwritten, or a printed label from a handwritten master copy. Again, I seem to recall seeing some 7.9 labels that while reflecting hand writing, were definitely akin to photo copies (not saying at all that photo-copying was the process - I haven’t a clue what kind of duplicating processes they had in the 1930s). That is, they were not done with normal ink, but rather like xeroxing a handwritten note for wide distribution.

I could be all wet here. Again, except for having a sample for a collection, the process holds zero interest for me.

John M.

Lew, it is of course ridiculous to avoid using the code on the label and then fill the box with cartridges headstamped with the code. But I have worked for three years in the security directorate of a federal agency. The thinking is as follows:

  1. Insisting on removing the codes from the cases is not realistic. It would result in “no ammunition” for the recipient and our boss would have to answer unpleasant questions. Not good for our career.
  2. We CAN insist on going by the rules to not mention the code on the label. For non-Wehrmacht recipients this means using the company name.
  3. So the label does not show the code and regarding the headstamps in the boxes we look the other way.
    I do not know if this is typical German, but be assured it still applies today in similar circumstances.

JPeelen, I totally agree!

The point you make is the one I have argued for many times. Just because there is a rule, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. About the time they were loading and shipping these cartridges, the code for DWM Karlsruhe was changing from “faa” to “suk”. I suspect that was reason enough.

It sure looks like it is handwritten. They would have copied the whole label and the label is very sharp and crisp, and does not appear to be on a special paper. If they could do this in 1935, I am impressed! It is better than what Xerox could do 20 years later.



there is the famous case of the late Walther PP 7.65 mm pistols, where the left side of the slide is blank (no factory markings) and the right side has the Walther “ac” code. I assume the code was there to try to conceal the near-end of war manufacture. However, these pistols have rather crude, coarsely checkered wood grips, and right at the top of the grip is the Walther Trademark, “Walther” in a banner. Pretty ridiculous, even in the consideration of the time in which these were made (late 1944 and 1945, I would think).


Like I said, I have not seen your label other than the picture. I don’t see where it would be that difficult a job if they had any kind of ability to reproduce the box label from a master or a photograph. It could be they wrote everyone by hand. It would take one or two more samples of the identical label to tell that, unless it is just dead-certain obvious that the hand-written parts are in actual ink from a pen, and no reproduced.

At any rate, much ado about nothing on my part. As I say, it is nice to have such a label in a collection, for sure. Wish I had one. But the method of production of the label really, in my view, has little or no importance.


As far as I know,the first capability to produce copies on plain paper was the first Xerox machine that was introduced in 1959. Before that “copiers” used photo paper or thermal imaging paper. DWM provided thermal paper copies of the DWM case & bullet ledgers to Fred Datig in 1956, and these are now in the Woodin Lab files, unfortunately pretty unreadable because thermal copies age and darken over time.

Industrial processes, and their evolution interest me because they, to a great extend, define the evolution of our civilization, but they may also help date things.

Thanks for the inputs! As always they are a big help.

Do you have examples of 7.9x57 boxes with handwritten labels??? Your thoughts would be appreciated.


The handwritten labels are scare.

My theory is that if a couple of hundred/thousand rounds were left over from a lot in the packing, they use these instead ordering additional labels from there printing facility.

An interesting label is also from a box were bullets packed inside and transported inside RWS (P151).

That is the best explanation I have heard! I’d buy a beer for thanks, but understand you have given up beer! Perhaps my box was excess from the Polte 1935 loading line, or they had run out of labels for the last few thousand rounds . I would love to find a printed label for Polte P08 lot "P.18 L.35. and compare to see if they have the same powder or cases or primer or bullet.

Perhaps at the end of the lot 18 production they had to use some older cases or a different powder they used a handwritten label rather than print revised labels as was apparently done during WWII.

If anyone has a box of Polte lot 18 from 1935 (not the headstamp lot, butt the load lot in the second line on the bod) with a printed label, please post it!!!

Thanks Dutch!


If those labels were all hand-printed, one by one, and a lot of 7.9 was 100,000 rounds, that would be approximately 7,000 labels to be hand-printed. What a chore! The labor value of the workers doing it would probably exceed the cost of simply buying 7,000 correct, printed labels.

Just an observation.


John, if a lot had had a size close to the normal 100000 rounds, I think they would have used printed labels. But, as Dutch implies, if the run was probably only in the hundreds or [a few] thousands to use up remaining stocks (think of the old propellant from 1926 in Lew’s first message, for example) it sounds quite plausible to me to use hand-written labels. Manpower (most probably women in this case) was very cheap compared to modern standards.

Handwritten labels could also be used to fix mistakes or mishaps with automated packing and labelling. Things can go wrong in a process and sometimes quick and dirty fixes work.

Here is an example where a carton label for 832 rounds has been corrected by pen for a 16 round box.



A decade ago I made this copy from an eBay auction for my files.
They were printed in sheets.



I know that the labels like you show, printed with all relative information showing, were printed in sheets. Most labels are. I am sure the ones missing information, to be used as needed, were similarly repaired. What I was talking about was the filling in of the missing information - lot numbers, suppliers codes, etc. I would have thought they would have had a way to prepare a master and then print them. My point in mentioning that they only way that could be proved, one way or another, is if one had three or so examples of the same labels with later filled in data, so they could see if the handwriting was absolutely identical, meaning mass reproduction, or if there were miscellaneous little differences from label to label, which would indicate filling in the blanks one label at a time, by hand.

Being a complete moron on this kind of technology, evidently the means to do that is a semi-permanent fashion did not exist in the time frame of the mid-1930s. I certainly can’t dispute that as I know nothing (and frankly care not at all) about that particular information. I simply could not imagine them having one person, or many people, engaged in writing in the missing elements on thousands of labels, by hand, one at a time.

By the way, although not to the point I was trying to make, that is really interesting to see that picture of a page of box labels. I don’t recall seeing one for German cartridge boxes before, although we all have seen sheets of labels for various uses at one time or another.

John Moss