Original U.S. Civil War Leather Federal Percussion Cap Box Pouch by R. Nece

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This leather percussion cap box is a fine, complete example of a Federal pattern accoutrement carried by US Infantrymen during the Civil War. The black leather specimen is in very strong condition. Cap box construction exhibits seam stitching that is strong and tight (no rivets). The black leather outer flap is supple and exhibits a surface with moderate cracking at the hinge area and face. The flap’s integral closure tab is strong and supple with flaking at the finial hole. Inner flap is very fine and retains both ‘ears’ or side covers on the flap. Backside of this box has two original leather vertical belt loops sewn on. Stitching is tight and strong, as are the loops. The front flap is deeply stamped US.

The inner closure flap is beautifully stamped with the manufacturer and inspector’s stamps.



Reuben Nece, of Philadelphia Pennsylvania received a contract to supply 33,000 cartridge boxes from 1863 to 1865.

This Federal Civil War percussion cap box is a great complete specimen of a Union soldier’s field equipment and comes ready to display in your Civil War collections!

Percussion Caps
The percussion cap or percussion primer, introduced in the early 1820s, is a type of single-use percussion ignition device for muzzleloader firearm locks enabling them to fire reliably in any weather condition. This crucial invention gave rise to the cap lock mechanism or percussion lock system using percussion caps struck by the hammer to set off the gunpowder charge in percussion guns including percussion rifles and cap and ball firearms. Any firearm using a caplock mechanism is a percussion gun. Any long gun with a cap-lock mechanism and rifled barrel is a percussion rifle. Cap and ball describes cap-lock firearms discharging a single bore-diameter spherical bullet with each shot.

The percussion cap is a small cylinder of copper or brass with one closed end. Inside the closed end is a small amount of a shock-sensitive explosive material such as mercuric fulminate (discovered in 1800; it was the only practical detonator used from about 1850 to the early 20th century). The caplock mechanism consists of a hammer and a nipple, sometimes referred to as a cone. The nipple contains a tube which goes into the rearmost part of the gun barrel. The percussion cap is placed over the hollow metal nipple. Pulling the trigger releases the hammer, which strikes the percussion cap and detonates the mercury fulminate, which releases flames which travel through the hollow nipple to ignite the main powder charge. Percussion caps have been made in small sizes for pistols and larger sizes for rifles and muskets.

Earlier firearms used flintlock mechanisms causing a piece of flint to strike a steel frizzen producing sparks to ignite a pan of priming powder and thereby fire the gun's main powder charge. The flintlock mechanism replaced older ignition systems such as the matchlock and wheellock, but all were prone to misfire in wet weather.

The discovery of fulminates was made by Edward Charles Howard (1774–1816) in 1800. The invention that made the percussion cap possible using the recently discovered fulminates was patented by the Reverend Alexander John Forsyth of Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1807. The rudimentary percussion system was invented by Forsyth as a solution to the problem that birds would startle when smoke puffed from the powder pan of his flintlock shotgun, giving them sufficient warning to escape the shot. This early percussion lock system operated in a nearly identical fashion to flintlock firearms and used a fulminating primer made of fulminate of mercury, chlorate of potash, sulphur and charcoal, ignited by concussion. His invention of a fulminate-primed firing mechanism deprived the birds of their early warning system, both by avoiding the initial puff of smoke from the flintlock powder pan, as well as shortening the interval between the trigger pull and the shot leaving the muzzle. Forsyth patented his "scent bottle" ignition system in 1807. However, it was not until after Forsyth's patents expired that the conventional percussion cap system was developed. Joseph Manton invented a precursor to the percussion cap in 1814, comprising a copper tube that detonated when crushed. This was further developed in 1822 by the English-born American artist Joshua Shaw, as a copper cup filled with fulminates.

The first purpose built caplock guns were fowling pieces commissioned by sportsmen in Regency era England. Due to the mechanism's compactness and superior reliability compared to the flintlock, gunsmiths were able to manufacture pistols and long guns with two barrels. Early caplock handguns with two or more barrels and a single lock are known as turn-over or twister pistols, due to the need to manually rotate the second barrel to align with the hammer. Pocket sized versions of this pistol were widely used by gamblers in the Old West. With the addition of a third barrel, and a ratchet to mechanically turn the barrels while cocking the hammer, these caplock pistols evolved into the pepperbox revolver during the 1830s.

The caplock offered many improvements over the flintlock. The caplock was easier and quicker to load, more resilient to weather conditions, and more reliable than the flintlock. Many older flintlock weapons were later converted into caplocks so that they could take advantage of these features.

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