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Discussion Starter #1
I found a .56-50 Spencer rimfire cartridge (U headstamp) at the Canton TX "First Monday Tradedays" today. I wasn't expecting to find anything of interest and mostly went along so my wife could do her shopping. One vendor who had some guns directed me to another vendor who was selling ammunition. Sure enough, he had a few items of interest. I walked away with the Spencer cartridge, three .41 short rimfires in excellent condition, a .45-70 blank, and a handful of .32-40 Winchester cartridges. He had a couple of other things of interest, some different blank cartridges, but my pocket money gave out.Made for a great day as far as I am concerned.
 
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Nice find. I reloaded some new 56-50's in Starline brass for a friend that had purchased a new Taylor and Co. Spencer, but I've never seen an original round.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I presume the new Spencer shoots centerfire ammo and the Starline brass was such. After I got home with my purchases, I did a little research in "Cartridges of the World." Turns out that there were several Spencer rimfires: the original one that is much shorter than the .56-50, the .56-50 (which Mr. Spencer didn't like), and one that had a slight bottleneck that supposedly corrected a perceived problem with the crimp of the .56-50. And here I thought there was just one Spencer cartridge. Just like when I learned recently there were two .25-20 cartridges that were vastly different from each other: .25-20 Winchester and .25-20 Single Shot. Cartridge collecting started as an afterthought with me, but now has developed into a real fascination. Lots of history in each of those old (or sometimes not so old) cartridges.
 

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Yes, the new .56-50's are centerfire. My firend had ordered the Taylor and Co. Spencer while he was in Iraq and asked me to get some loading stuff for it. There was a cast bullet guy in Bozeman who had bullets for the .56-50, and I got the Starline brass and some RCBS dies for it. There wasn't much load data for it, but since I was loading with black powder, I just filled the case so as the bullet compressed the powder. Got a surprise when I went to test fire it, the firing pin was hitting so far off center it would not set the primer off. So it might as well have been a rimfire. My friend sent it back to Taylor and Co. after he finished deployment and they replaced the rifle.
The history behind the cartridges fascinates me as well. A couple of winters ago, while walking my dog in some ravines below my house in Cottonwood, Arizona, I found an old cartridge case. I could see right away that it was a 50-70 Government. But it struck me as odd that it had no central primer, it looked like a very big .22 rimfire case, but it had a firing pin hit in the center. I did some research at the time, and it was from an Allin converted Springfield, which were done just after the Civil war, and made up until 1873 when the "New and improved" 1873 Trapdoor and 45/70 cartridge were introduced. Apparently the priming goodies were set down into the case and a crimp above the rim was made to hold the priming down. Cottonwood was on the trail connecting the forts built during the battles with the Apache. Nearest Army post was at Camp Verde, about 15 miles to the east, and near the present day Yavapai Apache reservation.
 

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The 56-50 with U h/s is a $5 to $7 cartridge, some of the carts made by Fitch Van Vetchen, Allen, C.D. Leet., et al can bring up to $30 depending on condition, the .41 shorts will bring a dollar or two unless they have a CDL h/s (rare) which bring $125 & up, some of the Allen carts are worth $12 to $25 DOC, but it takes an expert to sort them out as there are no h/s on most of them, the V h/s carts are worth a couple bucks but no more. The 32-40s are worth a couple dollars in VG condition. The .45 blank is the most interesting cart you list, if date-stamped it's worth more than commercial h/s carts, it could even be a training round or a Gatling blank, if so it could be worth up to $25.00, Benet primed worth even more. As a 45-70 collector I must have 200 blanks, some worthless, some rare and expensive, only a visual can determine which are which. Any 45-55 carbine rounds with US CARBINE h/s is worth a couple hundred, no standard 45-70 rounds except multi-ball, experimental, and blanks will bring much money. Don't get the 45-55, 70, & 85s confused, there is a difference, bullet weights and cartridge lengths will determine what you have. :)

Dick C.
Former president, Rocky Mountain Cartridge Collectors ***'n.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
I mis-stated in my original post the description of the .56-50 Spencer cartridge. It is not a U headstamp, but a J.G. headstamp. I was looking at something else when I rattled off my first post. Also, the .45-70 blank cartridge has one of those large very rounded top primers like is in a .43 Spanish cartridge that I have. Not sure of the correct name for it. The rim is also not squared off on the edges, but very rounded, almost like a rimfire cartridge. Let me see if I can post some pictures in a few minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here are a couple of photos I just took. Perhaps you can tell from them what I actually have. Thanks in advance for the info.
 

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The Spencer cartridge was manufactured by J. Goldmark. The 45-70 Blank appears to be of UMC or Remington manufacture. Both are fairly common cartridges.

Ray
 

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Yes, the Spencer is a Jacob Goldmark, still a $7 to 10 cartridge.
 

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Do not underestimate that cartridge. I have a 1865 Joslyn carbine using the spencer. I shot some original Blanks . out of 5 2 went off , 1 sort of hang fired and Fizzled , 2 did not.
Dixie makes a rim fire adaptor and takes a 22 rim fire blank . that you can load. expensive but will work
great shooter both times
Sal
 

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Discussion Starter #12
No plans on shooting them in anything. I just collect oddball cartridges. So they will sit on the shelf along with my other acquisitions.
 

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Ammo boxes for .56-50 Spencer

Hey Guys

I’m new to the forum and wondered if anyone could help me with this search. I am trying to find an ammunition box that will fit Starline .57-50 Spencer ammo. I am reloading my own, but can’t find anything decent to store it in. MTM Case Gard do not seem to be able to help and ideally I want to store it in 20 or 50 round boxes.

I live in the UK but am very happy to go anywhere to find the right solution.

Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

Yours aye

Jay D.
 

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I noticed that Buffalo Bore Ammo sells 56-50 ammo & shows them in a plastic ammo box that looks like it came from Berry's Ammo boxes. Another place to check is Frankford Arsenal, which is a reloading supply retailer. The large diameter is the obstacle with the 56-50 for finding suitable boxes, but Frankford sells cardboard boxes with styrofoam inserts that you may be able to modify. Good Luck!
 
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