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Merwin & Bray Marked Pack of .36 Caliber Combustible Cartridges

Merwin & Bray Marked Pack of .36 Caliber Combustible Cartridges

  • Product Code: BP-1048-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a FINE condition original packet of six .36 caliber combustible cartridges produced for the Merwin & Bray Companyby the by the Hazard Powder Company, for use with either the Colt or Whitney .36 caliber “belt” revolvers, known better to collectors as the “Navy” models.


The package is clearly block printed on the wrapper in seven lines, with a decorative geometric boarder:


6 Combustible Envelope



For Either Colt’s or Whitney’s


Address MERWIN & BRAY.

NO. 245 Broadway, New York


The rectangular packet measures 2.43” x 1.62” (1.48”) x .50”, with the short ends tapered. The combustible cartridges 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. 


Major distributors and retailers like Merwin & Bray also had ammunition produced for sale under their own name. The firm of Merwin & Bray was a major New York based retailer and distributor of firearms during the 1860s. Under the leadership of Joseph Merwin, the company became the primary (and in some cases the sole) distributor for a variety of new, metallic cartridge firearms, including those produced by Plant’s Manufacturing Company, Eagle Arms, Daniel Moore, Ballard patent firearms (as produced by Dwight, Chapman & Company and Ball & Williams), Bacon Manufacturing Company (eventually Hopkins & Allen), and eventually the Evans Repeating Rifle Company, just to name a few. Merwin also worked as a sales agent for such major firearms manufacturers as Colt and Remington, and eventually Winchester. Of course, his name is probably best known for his ownership of the Merwin, Hulbert & Company during the 1870s, a company that was simply the evolution of the Merwin & Bray firm.


This package of 6 Combustible Envelope Cartridges for Colt’s or Whitney’s Belt Revolvers is in 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 package remains unopened and in crisp condition. The package shows only some minor oxidized age discoloration to the outer wrapping from handling and age. The package remains complete and intact with no obvious, significant condition issues.

Overall this is a very nice condition and very displayable example of an original and complete cartridge packet intended for use with the .36 caliber revolvers of the Civil War era. This would be a fantastic addition to a high condition cased Colt or Whitney Navy revolver, or simply to display with one of the guns, or even add to a cartridge collection. This packet is very attractive with a very crisp label that looks great.

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: Merwin, &, Bray, Marked, Pack of, .36, Caliber, Combustible, Cartridges