Union Metallic Cartridge Company Pinfire Cartridges
Over the past few posts our exploration of the relationship between pinfire cartridges and the United States has taken a look at the cartridges used in the American Civil War and we have taken a look at some of the uncommon pinfire cartridges that never made it into mass production. In this article we will look at the most prevalent American manufacturer of pinfire cartridges, Union Metallic Cartridge Company (UMC) of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
There are many articles and books about UMC that go into great detail about the beginnings and history of the company so we will only glance at history that pertains to their production of pinfire cartridges.
In 1866 Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, a sporting goods firm based out of New York bought C. D. Leet and Crittenden & Tibbals and turned them into a new company called Union Metallic Cartridge and Cap Company. Their only known catalog shows pinfire cartridges for sale in it. It would make sense that this company may have used the existing C. D. Leet machinery to make the cartridges or it is possible that they could have imported cartridges; especially in the 7mm and 9mm sizes. It is interesting to note that the 12mm shown in the ad appears longer, similar to the earlier C. D. Leet cartridges, rather than the size of the later UMC 12mm pinfire cartridges.
Then in 1867 the company gets incorporated as Union Metallic Cartridge Company. For the next six years none of the price lists or catalogs show pinfire cartridges. A price list from 1873 is the first year to show them. After that they are consistently listed in price lists and catalogs all the way through 1910.
In 1911 SH&G begin marketing Remington and UMC together under the new name of Remington-UMC and pinfires are still included in the catalogs until at least 1916. In 1923, an internal Rem-UMC document listed all variations of their pinfire cartridges as dead which means they would no longer be made even for special orders. More than likely, the boxes sold during the Rem-UMC era were the leftover UMC boxes with an over-label. The only example I have seen of one of these is a B&W image from the Zwecker Headstamp Guide. I colored it to show what it likely looks like but it is still hard to see.
So for over fifty years UMC made pinfire cartridges. They went through many variations on the boxes and cartridges over the years. The earliest boxes I have found spell out “Twenty-Five Lefaucheaux Cartridges” and then they change the label to say “25 Cartridges for Lefaucheaux Revolver“. Some of the boxes also have the guarantee label on the back where some do not. And they used various colors for the label and side tape over the years. It is also interesting to note that every single board and box misspell “Lefaucheux” when none of the catalogs do.
The cartridges are just as diverse. The earliest examples do not have the classic “U” headstamp and some do not have the common beveled base. There are tinned salesman samples, board dummies and blanks. I have even come across a handful of what appear to be new-primed empties in 9mm.
I also find it interesting that some have a rounded pin and some have a flat pin. But boxes never seem to have a mixture of the two.
References and Further Research:
Thanks to Lou Behling for information on internal Rem-UMC documents.