Winchester punch dot date code

In a recent topic there was mention of the dot date code on Win boxes. Is there a source to decode this?

Hi Dave
I’m not aware of anyone figuring out the Winchester codes. With some of the Peters boxes which also used the Cummings punch code machine, the punch-sequences actually resemble letters and numbers, so perhaps easier to figure. But Winchesters just seem random to my eye.

Thanks Pete. When did it go into use and when did they stop using it?

Got the above spelling of Cummins wrong for their Cryptographic machine, but Giles notes on pg 19 of Winchester Cartridges Boxes 1856-1956 that the machines were put in use between 1908 and 1910, but dot codes can be found on some boxes as late as the 1950’s.
About Peters product; I think they starter later than the Winchester & probably ended much earlier, but that is just a feeling on my part, no facts on Peters.

The Peters code before May 1934 when they became part of Remington Dupont is not known as far as I know. If anyone has any insight into the Peters code, please let me know.

I have a number of codes from the Pre-Dupont period. If no one has the Peters code, I will post a new thread with box photos and codes and let others contribute. Maybe we can figure out something.

Looking at the box styles using the punch code and the printed code, it looks to me as if the two may have been used at the same time. More in the Peters thread!


Thanks for the replies. Big help! I found a Winchester box that I think is from the ‘teens’? . Will post a pic.

The first link is to an advertisement for the Cummins machine from 1907 The Business Mans Magazine.

The second is the Patent for the machine. There has to be one of these still collecting dust in a back room somewhere.

Beyond its meaning, these dots are usually very hard to read and is very challenging how to transcribe them correctly, as there are codes with a variable number of rows and columns, likely indicating machines with a different number of matrix rings. Also, the use of blank spaces makes even harder to tell where the code starts and ends.

For example, here are three possible transcriptions of a dot code found in a .44-90 Sharps box:

3 matrix rings:

4 matrix rings:

6 matrix rings:

If we suppose that the last one is correct, we can also suppose that month, day and year are each represented by a group of two matrix rings. This means that, since according to Winchester records the .44-90 was last loaded on October 30, 1916, the last two rows would represent a date starting with either “0” (08 or 09), or “1” (10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15 or 16). In any case, there are so many possible combinations that I have no idea how to crack this code.



A couple observations:

  1. There are large and small dots, each in their own columns/fields. There should be a way of orienting the punched dots because they could be incorrectly read – upside down for example – if you can’t tell which way is up. I think the large dots/small dots is that way.
  2. On Winchester primer packaging in my modest collection, the dots start on labels dated 10-9 and continue until 1928 when the printed digit lot numbers appear. Then the dots resume in the late 1930’s, and the printed digits resume in the early 1950’s. My point here is: the digit lot numbers don’t change in format so I presume the punched dots don’t either, but more importantly, I think the punched dots equate to the same three fields of digits of the printed digit lot numbers – first field 1 (or 01) to 12, second field 0 to 9, third field 1 (or 01) to 31.
  3. If the printed lot numbers are so easily equated, then the punched dots should also be equally easily equated.

This is a PDF of the patent description for the the Cummins Crypto perforator and there is I believe, a description of the basic principle of how the coding works. Discovered that there is another machine patented about the same time by The American Perforator Company patent # US1646969A.
B.F. Cummins became Cummins - Allison, in 1973 Maybe someone in company remembers these machines and shed some light. I am going to email them . Can’t hurt, only electrons.

Any chance those punches overlap from left to right? Are the two over under dots the center of each left and right punch set? Does 88334 mean anything or am I still off in another planet?