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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 06-21-2020, 07:23 PM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Default Box of Ammo for the 1899 Collector

This is something for the 1899 collector; an unopened box of Winchester 38 special. Here is a picture of the top of the box.



One of the lines on the top of the box is "For Smith & Wesson New Military Revolver". It is 38 special, so the only new 38 special military revolver would be the Model of 1899.

This next picture is the label on the back of the box.



The last picture is one of the ends of the box.



Regards, Mike Priwer
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:14 PM
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As I see it the 1899 38 Special should have always been shot with Smokeless powder. The condition of the two that I have would indicate they have never been shot with Black Powder.

Neat find. I doubt if very many are floating around out there.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:21 PM
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Richard

The box found me - a friend sent it out of the clear blue. It had some kind of darkening on it, like a varnish that turned almost black. I rubbed and scrubbed with an old-school art-gum eraser, and you see the result. This is the first box of ammo I've seen marked for a specific model gun. Luckily for me, its an 1899!

Regards, Mike
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:29 AM
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so if it is gallery load what is the velocity? gallery to me indicates an indoor load
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Old 06-22-2020, 08:41 AM
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Interesting. First time I have ever seen "GALLERY" and "CONICAL BULLET" on the same box.

Bob
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:07 AM
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Velocities were not typically listed on early ammo, but bullet weight was usually found - not here which is interesting?? What is more interesting is that it appears to have another label under the label??? Never ran across that box before. Guessing it was only made for a short time.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:16 AM
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Interesting. First time I have ever seen "GALLERY" and "CONICAL BULLET" on the same box.

Bob
The 38-44 Target gallery round was also a conical bullet or round ball. I believe that the wadcutter bullet was not developed until shortly after the turn of the Twentieth Century, and before that conical bullets would have been the norm for all ammunition. Your comment might end up being of assistance in dating that box??
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Old 06-22-2020, 07:57 PM
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Back when I was collecting these boxes, I made a good many notes from Giles and Shuey's excellent book and my guide indicates the block letter WINCHESTER with quotation marks around it ranged from 1906-1908.
I have looked high and low for what they claim is probably the first Winchester made 38 Special box, an orange box from around 1900-1902 loaded with black powder.
I have never seen the box Mike posted. Nice find.

I just looked through the boxes I haven't packed away and found a red ball UMC 38 Special box that states:
"Adapted to .38 Smith & Wesson New Military and Colt Officer's Model Revolvers."

Ed

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Old 06-22-2020, 08:21 PM
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Gary

Looking close at the bottom edge of the label on the top of the box, I see another edge just peeking out . I had noticed the top corner that looks like another label is under the one we see.

Ed

You're much more knowledgeable about these boxes than I am. If you can find your really early boxes, please add pictures to this thread.

Regards, Mike
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Old 06-22-2020, 08:51 PM
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Would love to have a box like that. Preferably an empty one. It would go well with my original 1900 Catalog and 1899 Price list.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:42 PM
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Mike:
This is the only one that I currently have access to. According to a reputable source, this UMC box should be from the first few years of the 1900s. Hard to nail down much closer than that.
The Winchester boxes occasionally had a date stamp on the label, bottom right corner after the New Haven USA address. I am looking at one from 6-11 with a red label and italicized in quotes Winchester. I think I also have another from '06 somewhere.
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Old 06-23-2020, 09:11 AM
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Giles' and Shuey's book on Winchester cartridge boxes identifies that red box label style as the "post-1906" (1906-1912). One distinguishing factor is the WINCHESTER in quotes. But as the book does not provide a picture of a box in .38 Special, one can't be absolutely sure. My guess is that yours is from early in that period. Some older Winchester 2-piece box labels do have a small date (xx-xx) in the lower right corner, presumably the label printing date. And some do not.

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Old 06-23-2020, 09:55 AM
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Since I have never ran across that style of box, can't comment directly, but there are clues to narrow down the age.

The most common practice shortly after the turn of the Twentieth century was to differentiate black powder from smokeless ammo. By around 1905, almost all commercial ammo boxes either had smokeless or Black Powder printing. Some examples added that description a little earlier, but my guess is the first boxes did not show up until at least 1900. When you find a box with grains of powder listed, it it pretty certain it was made before 1900.

The 38 Special cartridge was developed in 1898 and was black powder. Some sources state that BP only lasted one year, but probably took a few years to become the new standard for the caliber. Also, he term "38 Military" was first used by S&W to describe their US military revolver caliber and they stamped 38 MIL on the barrel. That revolver was actually chambered for the 38 Long Colt round adopted by the US military by around 1892 for the Colt

The term "Winchester Made" was not used for long and I never understood why the phrase was printed in the first place. I have only seen it on very late 1890s to very early 1900s boxes.

Third, the term "For the S&W New Military Revolver" seems to refer to the 1899, but it is known that the company named their early K frames revolvers "Military" up to the mid-1910s. You can play with words, but "new" is the only hint that the box would be earlier.

The block "Winchester" printing does not seem to signify age to me, since the Italicized name appears in late 1800s boxes and early 1900s boxes depending on what caliber it was?? I have one 45-75 Winchester box with block lettering that supposedly dates to the 1890s, but also have a 32 S&W Winchester box that had Italicized letters dating from the 1880s.

Bottom line is that the term "Military" was in use from 1899 to at least 1912 in naming their 38 Special revolver. Almost all ammo boxes that used the term Smokeless would date post-1900, but my thought is that the box in question would likely be from 1902 to 1910. An educated guess at best, so I finally broke down and order the 100 Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes: 1856-1956 book. When I receive it, I will report if I find any examples in the book that match.
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Old 06-23-2020, 10:00 AM
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The 38 Special cartridge was developed in 1898 and was black powder. Some sources state that BP only lasted one year, but probably took a few years to become the new standard for the caliber.
Factory Black powder loadings for the .38 Special survived into the 1930s (along with BP loadings for several other early handgun cartridges), but I doubt they were big sellers. Remington listed them last in their 1936 price list.

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Old 06-23-2020, 11:37 AM
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Gary

That's a good move on your part -ordering the book! Hopefully we'll learn something. Thanks for doing this.

In starting this thread, I was going to mention the 38 Long Colt chambering of the 1899 Army contract, but then the box specifically says 38 Special, and does not mention ,38 Long Colt. The 1899 standard chambering is 38 Special, which will chamber the 38 Long Colt. I concluded that the box is talking about a new S&W military model that chambers 38 Special, and the newest S & W one, at the time, was the model of 1899.

Regards, Mike

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Old 06-23-2020, 12:15 PM
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I already have the book, as I mentioned in #12 above. There are no .38 Special boxes shown in it anywhere. In fact, the book's coverage is about 99% of CF rifle caliber boxes with a very few exceptions. The closest box of that type pictured was for a .38 WCF with a red label and block print WINCHESTER in quotes and identified as for use in Winchester Model 1873 and 1892 rifles, which is described as "post-1906" (p.63). There is another .38-40 box (high velocity) which is similar, except it has a yellow label, and is stated as being from the 1906-1912 period (p.65). Finally, there is a .32-20 HV box with a yellow label (similar to the .38-40 HV box) described as "introduced in 1905"(p. 57). There are somewhat similar boxes of .25-20 and .32/.35/.351 WSL with the same dating. Based upon those pictured examples, it is inescapable that the .38 Special box dates from 1905 or later.

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Old 06-23-2020, 12:51 PM
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I already have the book, as I mentioned in #12 above. There are no .38 Special boxes shown in it anywhere

Look on pages 18 and 284.
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Old 06-23-2020, 01:17 PM
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Very cool box!

This is the earliest box of .38 S&W Special that I have. It’s not as early as yours, but it should be pre-1912 (UMC/Remington merger).
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
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Factory Black powder loadings for the .38 Special survived into the 1930s (along with BP loadings for several other early handgun cartridges), but I doubt they were big sellers. Remington listed them last in their 1936 price list.
Of course both factory BP and smokeless powder ammo was offered for sale for many years into the Twentieth Century, but what I am saying is that it did not take shooters long to recognize the value of smokeless powders and it quickly became the standard of the ammo industry. Only the old-timers of the era were likely to buy BP for 38 Special.
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Old 06-23-2020, 09:44 PM
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Mike:
The first box I am adding is one I forgot I had. It is a 'lozenge' UMC box with a sharp shoulder bullet instead of round nose. I always thought it was pretty early, maybe '05 and 1910 but today as I was researching it, I found an identical box on Ray Giles' site for sale. He describes it as a scarce loading (mid-range), scarce bullet type, and very early smokeless powder vintage (pre-1900).
I don't know his basis for that date but he is the expert. I don't see a callout on the sides for a particular model of revolver.


One pic I didn't add is of a Remington/UMC box which is a bit later than the one Dave added, 2 posts up, as the red ball now has Remington added, so after 1912.
The reason I mention it is that it also specifies on one side that it is "Specially Adapted For .38 Smith & Wesson New Military and Colt Officer's Model Arms".


The next last 2 pics are of Peters and a US Cartridge Company boxes. I always thought Peters had nice graphics and this one is Black Powder with a 157 grain bullet.
The USCCo box is about to fall apart and is also BP with no mention of bullet weight. I have no idea how old these are but figure they are pre-1920.
Click on the pics to enlarge.
Ed
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Old 06-24-2020, 08:51 PM
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Wonderful information Mike! According to my origin S&W 1899 Price List, SS&W sold S&W 38 Special ammo for $16.50 for 1,000 rounds. Does anyone out there have a picture of what those boxes looked lie? Were they in boxes of 50 rounds, or what?
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:56 AM
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. . . The USCCo box is about to fall apart and is also BP with no mention of bullet weight. I have no idea how old these are but figure they are pre-1920.

Ed
Ed, I think your US Cartridge box is almost certainly 1899 to 1905. Most BP boxes that do not state "BLACK POWDER" on the label are before or just into the smokeless powder era, very early 1900s. I have a 44 American box that is very similar to yours in style, except for the curious blank line followed by "RE-LOADING" I have a note that states the 44 American box I have dates to the 1880s, but I have had it so long, I do not know where the information was obtained. US Cartridge Company dates back to 1869.
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Old 07-01-2020, 12:16 PM
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I did review the One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes and found it to be very helpful. It is not that every caliber is shown, but rather the style of the fonts, verbiage, etc. that allows you to narrow down the age of any Winchester box of any caliber.

Several general things learned from the book are as follows. Winchester, for the most part, did not use smokeless until at least 1900. There is one 38 Special box from 1900-1902 that simply states 21 grains powder, without BP or Smokeless mentioned.

Perhaps the most revealing caliber for changes made to Winchester ammo boxes from in and around 1900 is looking at the Model 1894 .30 boxes. These boxes used a long top line ID “.30 Winchester Smokeless Model 1894” top line until 1906 when they first went to standard font “WINCHESTER”. Another change in 1911 was the use of italicized “WINCHESTER”. Other calibers show similar dates for these changes. The best match I can find with verbiage similar to your box is a 38-40 Marlin box that dates to 1906.

One other interesting thing about this box is the reference to "Smith & Wesson New Military Revolver". Smith & Wesson used the term "Military" into the early 1910s. The 1914 S&W Catalog listed the 38 Military Revolver, and did not use the "& Police" until late in the teens. My 1919 S&W Catalog uses Military & Police. What we do not know is what the term "New" means. It could have been used when they came out with the New Model 1905 38 Military revolver and the 1906 date would fit that scenario nicely.
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:49 PM
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Gary

You're right that the question is "What does new mean?"

In the context of the ammo being 38 special, and for "SMITH & WESSON NEW MILITARY REVOLVER", that is a more accurate description of the Model of 1899, than it is of the Model of 1905. The only thing new about the Model of 1905 was the butt configuration; it was not a new model .38 Military Revolver.

I read the box description to encompass the idea of a Military Revolver chambered in 38 Special. Perhaps I'm biased, but that description fits the Model of 1899 much more than it does the 2nd-generation refinement of the 1899 ( -> 1902 ->1905 ).

It's curious, to me, that there does not seem to be another box like this, within our collector community, and its also curious that its not mentioned in the Winchester Ammo book.

On the other hand, both the Army and Navy 1899 contracts were for .38 Long Colt revovers, and not for 38 special. That could imply that the Army and Navy were not yet ready for 38 special chambering, and therefore, Winchester, if aware of this, probably would not offer this box of ammo in the 1899 - 1901 time frame. This raises the question: exactly when did the Army/Navy starting testing (or using) 38 special revolvers? That might be a better estimate of when this box of ammo was produced.

Regards, Mike
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:34 PM
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Mike, you have the list of serial numbers and barrel stampings for the 1899. I just checked to find the first 38 Special barrel stamping was just above 7500, which would have shipped in 1900. it appears that Winchester started differentiating between "Black Powder" and "Smokeless" by printing those labels on all their ammo by 1902.

I think it's age is narrowed down to around 1902 to 1906.
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:37 PM
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Based on pictures of similar boxes and descriptions in the Giles and Shuey Winchester Cartridge Box book (but not in .38 Special), I remain convinced that the box in question is no older than 1905-06. Might want to pose the question on the IAA website forum. If anyone can identify it, they would be found there. No need to be a paid member to post a question.
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  #27  
Old 07-04-2020, 06:33 PM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Dwalt

Thanks for the advice. I took it, and did start a topic on the IAA website.

Regards, Mike
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:09 PM
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Yes, I saw it there this afternoon.
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Old 07-05-2020, 08:59 AM
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Too bad that none of the posts contain any information about the box!
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  #30  
Old 07-05-2020, 04:01 PM
mikepriwer mikepriwer is offline
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Gary

Well- at least one of the fellow thought it's a nice box!

Regards, Mike
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