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Fine Original Packet of Hotchkiss' Patent Cartridges for the Whitney Navy Revolver

Fine Original Packet of Hotchkiss' Patent Cartridges for the Whitney Navy Revolver

  • Product Code: BP-1052-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a VERY FINE condition original packet of six .36 caliber combustible cartridges manufactured by the D.C. Sage Company of Middletown, CT. and produced specifically for “Whitney’s Navy Pistol.” The cartridges are contained in a wooden block, which is wrapped in brown paper with a block printed label that reads in seven lines:


Six Seamless Skin


For Whitney’s Navy Pistol,

36-100 Calibre

Hotchkiss’ Patent, Feb. 11th, 1862


D.C. SAGE Middletown, Conn.


The rectangular packet measures 2.65” long, by 1.58” wide and is .51” thick. The patent referred to in the label was US Patent #34,367 issued on February 11, 1862 to Julius Hotchkiss. According to Hotchkiss’ patent application, quote in part below, his new system to prepare the cartridges made of intestine would eliminate the problems with some other, earlier combustible cartridge designs.


The object of my invention is to prepare a cartridge which, while it possesses the requisite strength to resist the wearing away to which it is ordinarily subjected, and be, in a great measure, impervious to water, will at the same time permit of the certain ignition of the powder enclosedby it by the contact of flame with its outer surface from burning, priming, or by the contact of a percussion spark, and will also be carried from the barrel of the gun in which it is used at the moment of its discharge, in case it is unconsumed, and which may be used either connected with a ball, as shown in the drawings, or be formed simply to hold the powder. 

For this purpose I use either mutton or hog’s gut, prepared in the usual way with a view of its application to the purposes of a cartridge, this material being of such a character as to always crisp or shrivel under the action of heat, so that when a cartridge composed of it is exploded in a gun that portion of it which remains unconsumed will form, as it were, an irregular corrugated wad, which, by the force of the explosion, will be carried from the gun, instead of being converted into a charred residuum, adhering to and fouling its interior, as is usually the case with the common paper cartridge.

An objection, however, has heretofore existed to the use of the material named from the fact that the fibers of the gut, in the direction of its width, or at right angles to its length, are so fragile and tender as to be easily separated, and hence the cartridges now made up from this material are liable by the incidents of use to split lengthwise and waste the powder unless they are wound from end to v end, either by thread or ligatures of India-rubber, or bands of other material foreign to the gut itself; whereas the gut is capable of resisting a very considerable strain if at right angles to its width, or in the direction of its length, a resistance amply sufficient to meet the requirements of its use for the purpose named. 

The nature of my invention consists in so manipulating and applying a sheet or fillet of gut in the act of forming a cartridge as to utilize its strength in both the directions stated, thus dispensing with all subsequent winding by thread or other material, as now commonly practiced.”

The combustible cartridge for use in Colt’s patent revolvers had been developed during the mid-1850s. Colt had experimented with a variety of combustible materials to contain the powder charge and attach it to the bullet. In addition to being sturdy enough to secure the powder and attach it to the bullet, the cartridge needed to be moisture resistant, if not completely waterproof. Colt experimented with paper, skin (animal intestine) and foil. Interestingly, the foil experiment proved most sturdy and water resistant, but American made tin foil was of such poor quality that it was literally porous and would not serve. As a result, nearly all of the “foil” cartridges produced by Colt used imported foil from Germany. The combustible cartridge did not become universally popular for use in percussion revolvers until the outbreak of the Civil War, which resulted in an unprecedented increase in demand for the cartridges. As a result of the significant demand, the use of German imported foil was no longer practical or cost effective and the less sturdy materials paper and skin were turned to. In the case of paper, the material was also more permeable.

Colt produced cartridges in his own factory, the Colt Cartridge Works. This was essentially a joint venture with “Colonel Hazard”, of Hazard’s Powder Company. Other major cartridge manufactures soon established themselves in Connecticut as well, including the firm of D.C. Sage of Middletown and Robert Chadwick of Hartford. In London, the premier cartridge maker was the firm of Eley Brothers.

This package of Six Seamless Skin Cartridges for Whitney’s Navy Pistol is in VERY FINE condition. The package has been wrapped in plastic to protect it from handling damage. The block printed label remains in wonderful condition with all of the print clear and completely legible. The front edge of the label shows some minor ink splash from the original printing process, while the rear edge of the packet shows a black line from the edge of the ink block. The two short edges of the packet have nicely scalloped edges clearly visible on the edges of the wrapping paper. The package remains fully sealed and shows only the most minor discoloration to the outer wrapping from handling and age. The packet has no apparent tears or any notable damage and the original pull-string to tear open package remains intact.

Overall this is a really wonderful condition example of an original and complete cartridge packet intended for use with the Whitney Navy .36 caliber revolver. This would be a fantastic addition to a high condition case Whitney Navy revolver, or simply to display with one of the guns, or even add to a cartridge collection. This packet is a fantastic, no excuses example that you will be very proud to own!

Due to the presence of black powder, this item must be shipped via UPS Ground with an explosives/ammunition tag. This may not be shipped via air or US Mail.


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Tags: Fine, Original, Packet, of, Hotchkiss, Patent, Cartridges, for, the, Whitney, Navy, Revolver