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.50 CALIBER FRANKFORD ARSENAL INTERNALLY PRIMED AMMUNITION PACKETS – A NICE SELECTION OF RARE EARLY INDIAN WARS AMMUNITION:  The short period following the Civil War, specifically 1866 through 1873, framed one of the most interesting, and arguably one of the most important periods of experimentation and development of small arms cartridges for the US Army.  The .50 caliber internally primed centerfire cartridge which emerged from this period served the army as the primary small arms cartridge until 1874, and then continued to be used for many years  by civilians employed by the army, militia units, military schools, and not least, the settlers and commercial hunters active on the frontier. 

Issued for all of the US Army .50 caliber rifles and carbines during this period, to include the Models 1866, 1868 and the 1870 Trial rifles and carbines, the .50 caliber cartridges in the various loadings and configurations played a significant role in the early migration and settlement of the west, and have an important place in modern collections.  

I currently have the packets listed below for sale.  Each is individually described and priced below with accompanying photographs. 

NOTE:  For individual .50-70 cartridges produced by both Frankford Arsenal and civilian manufacturers, click on this link for available offerings:  INDIVIDUAL .50-70  CARTRIDGES

 

NO. 1  50-55 “UNITED STATES CARBINE” FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION CARTON - RAREST OF THE RARE EARLY INDIAN WAR PACKET:  This extraordinarily rare .50-55 “UNITED STATES CARBINE” 20 Round packet is quite likely one of the few that still exist in private or public collections today.   

Produced at the Frankford Arsenal in August of 1873, this packet contains one of the last evolutions of the arsenal produced .50 caliber cartridges, manufactured immediately before the introduction of the .45-55 and .45-70 cartridges in 1874.  Undoubtedly intended for use in the Model 1870 Trial Carbines – the Springfield, Sharps, Remington and Ward Burton – which were still in the hands of the frontier cavalrymen, it is unlikely that very many of these packets were produced, especially as they supplanted by the .45 caliber arms and ammunition less than a year later.  Those .50-55 packets that were delivered to the frontier were certainly expended, leaving few examples to survive into the modern collector market.  

Although this packet has been opened around the top edge, it has survived in very good condition, retaining a full legible front label, the pull string is still attached and the balance of the seams are all intact.  The paper label is in excellent condition, full form and completely legible with no loss of graphics.  The packet still retains its full form with no weak points misshaping.  All twenty of the correct Benet primed .50-55 cartridges are present – unique cartridges, different in length and bullet shape from the standard .50-70 cartridges.  Overall, the packet is very presentable and will display quite nicely.   

This "US CARBINE" 50-55 packet is so rare, it is quite likely to be the only one of its kind you will ever have the opportunity to own.  While I have no doubt that there are advanced Indian Wars collections which hold examples of this packet, they are the same few old extensive collections that still exist which can be counted on one hand.  This is the type of collectible which seldom reaches the open market, rather passing quietly from one old collection to another under a long established gentleman’s agreement – “if you ever decide to sell that, I’m your buyer”.  In spite of being opened, this packet presents very well, and that it is open bears very little on the value.  “THE” packet to display with any of the 1870 Trial Carbines, this packet would be the crown jewel in any collection of Indian War Frankford Arsenal cartridge packets.  (0070) $2950

 

NO. 2  50-70 FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION CARTON -  SCARCE EARLY DATE - 1868:  This original 20 Round “CENTRE PRIMED METALLIC CARTRIDGES CALIBRE .50” packet is significant as it was produced at the Frankford Arsenal in 1868 – much earlier than the more commonly encountered 1872 and 1873 dated packets.  Produced immediately following the 1867 dated 40 Round Wrappers which contained the eight, five round packets, this packet was the next step in the evolution of the arsenal produced .50-70 cartridges.   

This packet has survived in very good condition with the wrapper is intact and the pull string is present and still in place under the paper wrapper.  The paper label is in excellent condition, full form and completely legible.  The packet is still sealed and still retains its full form with no weak points or broken seams.  The top, bottom, front and rear surfaces of these packets were made of paperboard, where as the ends were simply closed by the folds of the paper wrapper and thus were the weak points of these packets.  The top edges of both end panels of the paper wrapper have been rubbed open by the rim of the adjacent cartridges – wear that is commonly found on packets of this type and characteristic due to the lack of paperboard reinforcement as described above.  These small openings neither affect the integrity, nor detract from the appearance of the packet.  

This 1868 dated box is the one that would have been issued with the Models 1867 and 1868 Sharps Carbines, the Model 1868 Rifle, and all of the 1870 Trial Guns, both carbine and rifle.  I have had perhaps one or two of these early dated packets in the last 40 years of collecting antique cartridges, and it is unlikely you would ever need, or have the opportunity to upgrade this scarce packet.  (0123) $1250

 

NO. 3  50-70 FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION CARTON -  DATED 1873:  This original 20 Round “CENTRE PRIMED METALLIC CARTRIDGES CALIBRE .50” packet was produced at the Frankford Arsenal in December of 1873, and is complete with all twenty of the original internally primed copper cartridges.   

The packet wrapper is intact and the pull string is present, still in place under the paper wrapper.  The paper label is full form and is completely legible.  One end of the packet is missing as can be seen in the photos.  The other end is completely intact.  The top, bottom, front and rear surfaces of these packets were made of paperboard, where as the ends were simply closed by the folds of the paper wrapper and thus were the weak points of these packets.  As the paper aged, the end paper covering became brittle, and if the packet was dropped or handled improperly the weight of the cartridges would easily damage the end panels of the wrapper.  Apparently this was a fairly common occurrence as many of the packets of this size and design are missing at least one of the end panels.    

Still, despite the open end, this remains a scarce, desirable, early and historically significant Indian War ammunition packet that is difficult to find available on today’s market, and will be a nice specimen to add to your collection. (0227) $750

 

NO. 4  .50-45 FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION PACKET – VERY RARE 20 ROUND PACKET OF BENET PRIMED CARBINE AND CADET CARTRIDGES:  This packet of .50-45 Internally Benet Primed Centre Fire Cartridges, is one of the rarer loadings produced by the Frankford Arsenal and one of the key cartridges in the progression of the .50 caliber internally primed rounds used by the Indian Wars army.  While individual .50-45 cartridges do surface on occasion, full 20 Round packets of this cartridge are almost never encountered on the open market.    

Based on available Ordnance Department correspondence of the time, this reduced loading of the standard .50-70 cartridge seems to have been first introduced for the Model 1866 Cadet Rifles, and later for the Model 1869 Cadet Rifles with an additional 10 grains of powder.  Further, as documented in correspondence between Gen. Sherman, Gen. Dyer and Col. Benton, by 1869 and 1870 the leadership of the army, in particular the Ordnance Department, was considering and recommending this reduced loading for use in carbines and an experimental trapdoor pistol.  The opinions in play felt the reduced loading would be best for these smaller arms, although recommending that the carbines (the pistols were never adopted) be capable of firing the heavier .50-70 cartridge should a shortage of the smaller cartridge occur.  

This excellent packet is still sealed and retains its full form, and the fully legible label is complete and intact on the front of the box.  One upper corner has been rubbed open by the rim of the adjacent cartridge, but this small opening neither affects the integrity nor detracts from the appearance of the packet.   

Whether the scarcity of these smaller .50 caliber cartridges is due to the fact that they were not produced in any great numbers or they were issued and consumed during the period of use is not definitely known.  While the ten round packets of .50-45 cartridges without a label that were produced by Frankford Arsenal do surface on infrequent occasions, surviving 20 round packets of this loading are quite rare and are seldom found in only the most advanced Indian War cartridge collections.  (0042) $2250

 

NO. 5  .50-45 FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION PACKET – VERY SCARCE 10 ROUND PACKET OF BENET PRIMED CARBINE AND CADET CARTRIDGES:  This packet of .50-45 Internally Benet Primed Centre Fire Cartridges, is one of the scarcer loadings produced by the Frankford Arsenal and one of the key cartridges in the progression of the .50 caliber internally primed rounds used by the Indian Wars army.  While individual .50-45 cartridges do surface on occasion, full 10 Round packets of this cartridge are almost never encountered on the open market.    

Based on available Ordnance Department correspondence of the time, this reduced loading of the standard .50-70 cartridge seems to have been first introduced for the Model 1866 Cadet Rifles, and later for the Model 1869 Cadet Rifles with an additional 10 grains of powder.  Further, as documented in correspondence between Gen. Sherman, Gen. Dyer and Col. Benton, by 1869 and 1870 the leadership of the army, in particular the Ordnance Department, was considering and recommending this reduced loading for use in carbines and an experimental trapdoor pistol.  The opinions in play felt the reduced loading would be best for these smaller arms, although recommending that the carbines (the pistols were never adopted) be capable of firing the heavier .50-70 cartridge should a shortage of the smaller cartridge occur.  

This excellent packet measuring 3" long, 1 13/16" high and 1 1/8" wide, is full form, with all the seams intact save for one end panel which opens, but is still attached by the paper wrapper on one side.  These smaller 10 round packets were never provided with a label, and the few of these that I have seen all appear in the same form.  

Whether the scarcity of these smaller .50 caliber cartridges is due to the fact that they were not produced in any great numbers or they were issued and consumed during the period of use is not definitely known.  These ten round packets of .50-45 cartridges were produced by Frankford Arsenal in some number, but they are relatively scarce and are seldom found but in the most advanced Indian War cartridge collections.  (0129) $595

 

NO. 6  50-70 FRANKFORD ARSENAL AMMUNITION CARTON – DATED 1872:  This is an original Frankford Arsenal Ammunition Carton for the .50-70 Internally Primed Cartridges that was produced in 1872.  This is an empty box that was opened around the top edge, however the box is full form with no damage and the dividers are still present on the interior of the box.  There are twenty wooden dowels of the appropriate size of a cartridge to give the box some weight and to help the box keep its form.  The seams are all intact with the exception of the open top and the sides, top, bottom, back and ends are all solid with no weak points.   

This is a nice display piece, particularly for collectors who cannot have live ammunition shipped to them, or for a display in a location where live cartridges would not be appropriate.  SOLD

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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