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11mm and 8mm Pidault & Cordier (Raphael) Cartridges
January 24, 2014

pidault-cordier-cartridges

What is commonly known as the Raphael cartridge was initially patented by a Frenchman named Charles Carroll Tevis in 1856. He was associated with a man named Pidault Martial and together they improved the patent and released the first Pidault centerfire revolver in 1858. Then on May 28, 1860 Pidault, in conjunction with Charles Cordier, patented this variation which has become known as the Pidault Cordier Revolver. A very similar revolver which does not have any markings on it by Pidault & Cordier was used in the American Civil War. It uses this same cartridge and is thought to be based on the same patent. On September 21, 1861 106 of these 11mm revolvers were purchased by the Union from George Raphael, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, for $26.33 each; making them one of the most expensive revolvers of the war. Some were stamped “Raphael / Paris” on the barrel. It is unknown if Pidault & Cordier or someone else manufactured these Raphael-marked revolvers.

pidault-cordier-patent

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Gévelot’s First Pinfire Pistol Cartridge
January 20, 2014

early-gevelot-pistol

Jules-Félix Gévelot was a close friend with Casimir Lefaucheux. He was given the original rights to make the earliest pinfire shotshells starting in the 1830’s. However in 1845, Jules Joseph Chaudun received a patent to make his pinfire pistol cartridges as shown on his manufacturer page. Because of this patent no one else could make pinfire pistol cartridges until the 1850’s. There were still some of Gévelot’s shotshells that were cut down to be used in pistols, but no specific pistol cartridges. After Chaudun’s patent expired, this cartridge shown is thought to be Gévelot’s first pinfire pistol cartridge.

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The Pinfire Page, Issue 4 – Russian Pinfires
January 19, 2014

The Pinfire Page, Issue 4

This issue of my Pinfire Page[1] in the IAA Journal was slightly different from normal. Its focus was on some pinfire headstamps rather than the whole cartridge. These cartridges were made by Russian companies and excavated from the ground in the Ukraine and in Russia. They are very uncommon in the United States or even in Russia. I was in contact with some people in these area that excavate various locations searching for military relics. A couple people even gave me some examples for free. They were just happy to spread their finds across the globe to someone who was truly interested.

The manufacturers mentioned in this article are: Е. Е. ТорбекаРусская Патронная ФабрикаSellier & Bellot and Я. Зимин.

Another neat headstamp that came from this region, but most likely did not originate from there is the following. It says System Lefauch. I assume they just ran out of room for the “eux” at the end!

system-lefauch

1.   Newcomer, Aaron. “The Pinfire Page.” International Ammunition Journal. 495 (2014): 23. Print.

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The Pinfire Page, Issue 3
November 18, 2013

The Pinfire Page, Issue 3

Another great issue of the IAA Journal came out recently with my third installment of The Pinfire Page[1] in it. This month I covered the Belgian cartridge manufacturer, V. Francotte, May et Cie. Read all about them on their manufacturer’s page.

1.   Newcomer, Aaron. “The Pinfire Page.” International Ammunition Journal. 494 (2013): 41. Print.

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The Pinfire Page, Issue 2
September 9, 2013

The Pinfire Page, Issue 2

In this month’s column of The Pinfire Page[1] I talked about Chaudun, Chaudun & Derivière and Jullien et Gauthey Fréres. You can order the back issue on the IAA website.

The documentation for the information provided in the journal article is included on this website in the respective section for each manufacturer.

1.   Newcomer, Aaron. “The Pinfire Page.” International Ammunition Journal. 493 (2013): 33. Print.

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Updated the Pinfire Guns Section
August 23, 2013

Check out the newly updated Pinfire Guns section where I have added 29 new pictures and reorganized the page to give a better view of the guns.

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15mm Pinfire Auxiliary Percussion Adapter and Pistol
July 6, 2013

Here is a very unique gun that just arrived at my doorstep yesterday! At first glance it seems like any common 15mm double barrel pinfire boxlock pistol but it is quite different.

First it is quite a bit larger and twice as heavy. (I was shocked how heavy it was when I first picked it up!) It was made by the luxury gun manufacturer, P. Boissy somewhere around the late 1850s to 1860s. He manufactured his guns in Saint-Étienne, France and even won an award at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris for his “pistolets de luxe.”

This pistol has a few unique features. First it was made to work with the included 15mm percussion adapters which could be used with readily available powder, caps and balls if one ran out of pinfire cartridges. To use these adapters the rear sight/safety/pin-holder would be removed by unscrewing one screw which allowed the larger auxiliary adapters to fit in the holes.

When using it with pinfire cartridges, the piece that was removed to allow use of the adapters would be placed back on the gun and screwed back in. This partially fills the larger hole to allow a pin from a pinfire cartridge to be held steadily in place.

Many of the higher quality pinfire boxlock pistols have sliding safeties which would protect the cartridges from untimely detonation but this one has a unique way of protecting the pins. It has spring loaded, hinged safeties that automatically spring open when cocking the hammer, allowing for quicker firing.

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My new column in the International Ammunition Association Journal
June 22, 2013

The upcoming issue of the International Ammunition Association‘s Journal contains the first issue of my new The Pinfire Page. I will use this recurring column to showcase things related to the pinfire system. The following image is taken from this issue and is just a small example of the many things found in this publication. I also attached the index of this issue to show some of the other things that can be found. If you are not familiar with the International Ammunition Association you may wish to check out their website (which I happened to redevelop and maintain) at http://cartridgecollectors.org. You can even download an example whole issue on the website at this link.

IAJ492 eJournal.pdf
Click The Pinfire Page for a full size PDF download

IAJ492-index

Now back to my column.

Here are some links to more information on the specimens featured in this issue.

The 15mm pinfire cartridge by Benjamin Albert

The Patronenfabrik J. Stahel cartridges

The arsenal made ones by Københavns Tøjhus

And a previous blog post on the first Chaudun revolver cartridge

Let me know what you think in the comments section of this post. Always feel free to ask any questions too.

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Soldiers from the American Civil War
March 11, 2013

On my quest for all things related to the pinfire system I have been especially interested in the role Lefaucheux pinfire cartridges and guns played in the American Civil War. You can read about some of those articles here: Articles. Over the past few years I have acquired a few images of soldiers from the American Civil War wielding a Lefaucheux model 1854 pinfire revolver.

First up is a CdV (Carte de visite) image of a soldier identified as being an Officer from New York. You may notice the metal stand behind him near his shoes. For those unfamiliar with early photography, it was not just point-n-click like it is today. It could take several minutes to expose the negative images so the subject had to remain very still the whole time. This stand probably went up to his neck to hold his head in the same place.

Civil-War-Soldier-with-Pinfire

Here is a version of that image that I colored to give a better understanding of what he most likely looked like in color!

Civil-War-Soldier-with-Pinfire-COLORIZED

Next up is a tintype of Charles Allen from Gouverneur, St Lawrence, New York. He was kind enough to write his name and city inside the back of the tintype for me. He was a private in the 1st New York Light Artillery – Battery D.

Charles-Allen-Civil-War-Soldier

Charles-Allen-Civil-War-Soldier-case

Charles-Allen-Civil-War-Soldier-pedigree

And lastly, here is an early 1/9 plate melainotype of a soldier from the American Civil War. Based on his uniform he appears to be a Union Cavalry Sergeant. He has a Lefaucheux 1854 Pinfire Revolver on the table next to him. I personally think that he is missing his left leg as it appears that the bottom of his left pant leg is tucked under him toward the table. Some who have examined the image think he has both legs intact. Either way it is still one of my favorite images as it shows such an excellent view of the gun, and a soldier with such a stoic demeanor which I am sure was a necessity for those who had to fight their own countrymen during the American Civil War.

Sitting_with_Pinfire_Beside_Him

Sitting_with_Pinfire_Beside_Him-COLORIZED

On close examination of the revolver one will notice it is loaded as one can see the bullets of the cartridges inside the cylinder. Also, when comparing my copy of a Lefaucheux model 1854 revolver with cartridges in it I have determined that he has loaded cartridges by one of the three American makers listed in this article as they were quite a bit longer than the imported, and typical 12mm pinfire cartridges.

gun

That concludes the images I have gathered so far of American Civil war soldiers with pinfire guns. As a bonus I also have here an image of some young men from Michigan. The one on the left has one of the little 2mm pinfire guns used as a pocket watch fob. I have blown up that portion of the image to better see it as well!

2mmPinfire-BlownUp

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The First Pinfire Revolver Cartridge!
February 23, 2013

This is the very first pinfire revolver cartridge. It was manufactured by the gun maker, Jules Joseph Chaudun, in 1845 after he patented a new improvement to both Casimir Lefaucheux’s shot shell design and Jules Gévelot’s patent that simplified Casimir’s design. It is labeled as a .50 caliber cartridge which makes it effectively the first 12mm pinfire cartridge. The boxes contained 10 cartridges and are known to have contained cartridges with varying case lengths, and slightly different shaped bullets. It gives the impression that these were all made by hand. Some boxes would also have cartridges with round balls rather than the “candle flame” shaped bullet mixed in. The cartridges were initially made with the intent to work in Casimir Lefaucheux’s new pepperbox pistol. The July 5, 1851 issue of The Illustrated London News illustrates both this cartridge and that pistol together.

Chaudun Pinfire Box and Cartridge

 

Chaudun pinfire box and pinfire cartridge

 

 The July 5, 1851 issue of The Illustrated London News

 

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