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Collectors and Arms Historians have a common interest—learning about the weapons, how they worked, who made them and why and how they were used. Serious, or what I call “student collectors” spend hours on the internet, in libraries and museums and will go the great lengths to turn up that last, hidden factoid about their area of interest.
The story starts with an enterprising young widow, Martha Coston. After her husband's death, she found herself widowed at age 21—a single mother with 4 children. She came up with an idea for a signal flare, based on some work her husband had toyed with. Her original purpose was to enable ships to communicate with land. She worked out a simple code system using only three colors - red, white and green, which, in various combinations could spell out ten numbers as well as an interrogatory and...
When need arises there is always someone who emerges with solutions to that need. Even as early as 1847, entrepreneurs, who foresaw the future need for massive numbers of bullets, were busy at work designing machines that they hoped would make mass production possible
Living in the 21st Century it’s easy to look back, see and understand the mindset of the mid-19th Century inventor. A lot of things were happening rather quickly in those days and it was hard to keep up, much less get ahead of the curve. Once the percussion cap had been invented and become fully accepted, advances in arms quickly followed. Inventors saw beyond that seminal event and realized that the future was in breech loading arms and that special cartridges would be required for their...
Paper cartridges have been around as long as muzzle-loading arms have been in use. Surviving specimens go back to well before the French and Indian Wars. Newsprint paper was often used as it was expendable and had exactly the right strength, flexibility and durability for the purpose and, incidentally, sometimes allows us to precisely date its manufacture. A simple paper tube was easily formed around a wooden dowel and could be filled with a measured powder charge and stoppered with either...
Introduction Early on, the concept of making it faster and easier to load and reload military muskets resulted in very simple solutions. During the Matchlock and Wheelock eras, bandoliers, made of groups of wooden capsules, were hung around the chest of the musketeer. They carried the measured charges for the weapon and assured a proper loading.
William Montgomery Storm was one of those American arms inventors whose designs never quite came to fruition in the U.S. This is especially true of his post Civil War efforts to introduce an inexpensive “trapdoor” breech loader design, which was based on his 1856 patent, for converting percussion rifle muskets to use a metallic cartridge. (Note that in Mr. Storm’s signature he habitually used the abbreviation “Mont” for his middle name; hence today his inventions are referred to as “Mont...