pre-Dreadnaught shell casings

Discussion in 'History' started by DavidBOC, Sep 20, 2009.

Welcome to the Navy Net aka Rum Ration

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial RN website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. I am from the other side of the pond but have a question that someone on here might be able to answer. I have a copper/brass umbrella stand in my home that was once my grandparents home. It was made by my great-uncle Jack Fallon who was a sailor on the USS Vermont (BB-20) during the 1907-1909 cruise of "The Great White Fleet". Based on glimpses of insignia in olb photos I think he was a Machinests Mate 3rd Class.

    He made it from a 7 inch naval shell. As he was a Machinest's Mate I presume he had access to a lathe onboard Vermont to flare the shell. Vermont was in the last Pre-Dreadnaught class of US Navy Battleships. The Connecticut Class had a battery of 12 inch, 8 inch guns in turrets, 7 inch in hull casements and 3 inch on deck. I am attaching pics of both sides of the shell plus a pic of Vermont (if attachment works) The designs are raised up above the surface of the shell so it appears that the metal was beaten outwards from the inside and then the design hammered from the outside. The base is several blocks of wood glued together and turned on a lathe. On one side the design is leaves/flowers and on the other a woman wearing what appears to be a bathing costume a bit daring for 1908.

    Oddly, the shell appears to have a brass base and a copper body. I have seen brass shells but never brass and copper combined, I would assume in that era large ammunition was not fixed ammo but seperate powder cartridge plus shell. I wonder if this was a shell designed for salutes only. I would guess that Vermont fired a lot of salutes in the course of the cruise. Comments from any naval gunnery experts appreciated.
  2. Hi David
    that ornament is what we over here term as ''trench art''
    made obviously at sea in the guys spare time --or someone elses !!
    The Base is obviously genuine but its been turned down to accomodate the
    copper tube that has been 'beaten out' to make the patterns .Then
    probably silver soldered or brazed into the brass base .All part of the coppersmiths remit!!

    Shell cartridge cases would not be made of copper due to its softness when subjected to heat and pressure especially in the case of a propellant being ignited in a gun breech firing a 7'' projectile!! Cases are all brass usually and even they deform during firing.

    Nice piece anyway -I have seen brass cartridge cases beaten out aswell
    over here --war time souvenirs !!

  3. What he said :wink:
  4. Gentlemen:

    Thanks for your replies and comments. It was a bit of family history that always intrigued me.

    On a related subject my grannie always had a rack of small rather ornamental spoons in her kitchen, never used but on display. One day several years ago I decided to clean them and found that in addition to cities around the world there was one showing USS Vermont, I went to the USN history website and found that each was a port of call for the Great White Fleet and confirmed that Uncle Jack was on the crew of Vermont. Uncle Jack was my grandfathers baby brother and the grandparents were sort of surrogate parents. I had always known he made the umbrella stand and had bought home a china tea set, most of which survived the trip, salutes etc. It must have been a amazing era to be a sailor.

    I had a great aunt, Kate, who was a Yoemanette (a.k.a. Yoeman-F) during WW One who was always very proud of her service, as she had every right to be.

Share This Page