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Providence Tool Co. Reloading Tools

     Providence Tool Company was much like Remington. They made Thousands of Military Rifles. Sporting Rifles were not high on their list. 

     They did make a few True Sporting and Target Rifles that used Centerfire Rifle Cartridges. Like every other Manufacturer, they also made Reloading Tools for these Centerfire Rifles.

     Every once in a while, you will see a Side Hammer Sporting Rifle for sale at the various auction sites. These early rifles are very high quality, attractive guns, but they were not popular with American Riflemen. The tilting Peabody Breech Block design did not allow you to chamber long cartridges unless they were a bottleneck type cartridge. 

     Later, Providence Tool made a Hammerless Rifle. A few ( Maybe about 400 ?) really beautiful Target and Hunting Rifles were made on this new action. Again, they were never popular here in America. The Hammerless Rifles used Peabody Designed Cartridges. That may have been a problem. The Cartridges and Rifles are scarce today. The Reloading Tools are also seldom seen.

     The only Side Hammer, Centerfire Sporting Rifle I have seen, was chambered for the 45 Peabody Sporting Cartridge. I have heard of other calibers, but not many were made.   

45 peaboby cartridge.jpg

     This was not exactly a big game cartridge. Buffalo, Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears were probably safe. I have not seen any Providence Tool Co. Reloading Tools for this cartridge, but they may be out there.                         The earliest mention I can find of a cartridge like this, is a 45 Peabody Rimfire in 1866. Sometime between 1866 and 1869 the Providence Tool Company was experimenting with Centerfire Cartridges.

     When Hiram Berdan patented his Cartridge and Berdan Primer design in September of 1868, every Rifle Manufacturer adopted his ideas.

     Most, if not all, of these early Cartridges and Berdan Primers were made by The Union Metallic Cartridge Company. ( U.M.C.) Companies like the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co. would buy brass cartridge cases and primers from U.M.C., then assemble their own cartridges. Providence Tool Co. probably did the same. Later, they let U.M.C. do all the cartridge assembly. They just sold their cartridge designs, U.M.C. Made, in their catalogs. Even later, Winchester produced the same cartridges, after they perfected their cartridge and primer manufacturing. ( Along with the Cartridges, Winchester also made Reloading Tools. That was later, maybe in 1875.)

     By December of 1869, Providence Tool Co. Patented a group of  Reloading Tools. One used a chisel to pry out the Berdan Cap or Primer. Another would press in a new Berdan Primer. The third tool would seat a bullet.

     Yesterday, I was searching for patent drawings of the Peabody Reloading Tools. Among the patents I saw a little picture of something that looked like a water faucet. I was surprised to find it was not a water faucet. It was a Bullet Lubricator. I immediately sent the drawing off to Ed Curtis. Like me, He had not seen this drawing before. No one bothered to publish the drawing.

     The following Patent Drawings are a good beginning for this Providence Tool Co. Web Page. When you are doing research, ya never know what you might find!

The PickersGill Patents of December, 1869

     William C. Pickersgill is listed on these patents as the Inventor. He may have been an Employee of Providence Tool Co. He assigned the patent to Providence Tool, so they had some kind of deal when these patents were filed.

Peabody Bullet Seater

     The drawing above, is the basic Bullet Seating Tool you will see published in early Reloading Tool Books. There are a few Minor differences between the drawing and the actual tools, but not much.

     Note: These drawings were sent to the patent office just 15 months after Berdan filed his Berdan Cartridge and Berdan Primer Patent. The Firearms Companies did not waste much time embracing the Berdan Ideas.

Peabody Bullet Lubricator

     This is the Patent Drawing I had not seen before. The shaping of the handles and tool is slightly different from the first drawing. That is not unusual. Small changes were often made before mass production started. The actual tools have a very solid, high quality hinge joint. You will see the same patent dates and patent number on both documents

     The idea here seems to be to drop the bullet into a slot. Push it in far enough to pump lubricant into the bullet grooves. Then push the Bullet into the Cartridge Case. All in one tool.

     Note: Ed Curtis pointed out that most Peabody Cartridges were loaded with Paper Patch Bullets. Perhaps they were trying to cover all the bases. Some people really liked to shoot Grooved Lubricated Bullets. There were Peabody rifles in 50-70 and 45-70. The popular trend was to use Grooved Bullets in these two Cartridges.

     I don't know if Providence Tool ever made any of these bullet lubricators for the Commercial Market. It is a pretty good bet that there were models made. There may be some of these tools out there. 

    Was the Lubricator something you could attach to the standard bullet seater? Were they offered in Peabody Catalogs? Were they all lost because no one knew what they were? It would be nice to see one. If you have one stashed away, please send pictures!

     Doubt my assessment here? Some knot heads always do. If you can read, then check out the Patent Document below. You can zoom in, blow it up or print it out. I was lucky to get this document. They are not always available.

Peabody Patent Papers

     This is a neat addition to our knowledge of these Peabody/Providence Tool Company Reloading Tools. The rest of the Patent Drawings can be seen below.

Peabody De-Capping Tool

     The Cap Extractor drawing above, has the same December 14, 1869 filing date.  These decapping tools have been mentioned in most of our early books on Reloading Tools.

     This was another tool designed just for Berdan cartridges and Berdan Primers. This is most apparent if you notice the Berdan chisel mounted between the handles. The tool works as follows:

     1. open the two main handles.

     2. place a fired cartridge in Lever E.

     3. Close the two handles to pierce the primer

     4. Continue to hold the two large handles together while lowering handle E.

     These steps should pop out the relatively shallow Berdan primer. Then you could proceed to clean and dry the Cartridge Case to prepare it for Reloading.

Peabody Reloading Tool

     This is the last of the Pickersgill Patent Papers I have available at this time. At first glance this looks like a very complex tool just to press in a primer. This complex tool was very necessary in the very first Berdan Cartridges.

     The swiveling pin that holds the Cartridge Case (E) has a groove cut in the top. The groove helps support the Rim and Berdan Anvil from the inside. This is because these first cartridge cases were very thin on the Base and Rim. If you just held the case by the rim, the way we do it today, you could press the center of the base right in and ruin the Cartridge Case.

     The problem is best illustrated by the image below.

U.M.C. 40-50 Sharps Cartridge

      I bought this Cartridge a few years ago. Someone did a great job of cutting away half of the base. I knew I would need this some day! I do not know how this fellow did this without messing up the primer!

     This is an early Union Metallic Cartridge Co. case in 40-50 Bottleneck. You can easily see the copper colored Berdan Primer.

     The thin layer inside the primer is a sheet of foil which held the Fulminate in place in the middle of the primer.

     You can also see a reinforcing brass cup which has been pressed into the base of the cartridge. This was intended to strengthen the base and rim.

     Look close and you can see that the Cartridge Case, Rim, Primer Pocket and Anvil have all been formed from a metal disc. The disc was pressed into the shape of a cup, then formed by many dies to create Rim, Primer Pocket and Anvil. Then the body of the case was formed to proper shape.

     Note: Go back to the home page and click on the button "Making a Cartridge Case" to get an idea of how this was done in 1880 by Winchester.

     This image of a cut-away cartridge above, is the way they made these cases in the beginning. Then, technology advanced, and case heads were made thicker and stronger until we had our solid head cases today.

      Hopefully, you can see why the little swiveling pin was necessary on these 1869 Patent Tools. The groove cut in the end of the pin supported the Anvil and Rim at the same time. They would not crush in when the primer was seated, even if you had to press it medium hard.

      Note: It is also important to press the primer in First. Before you fill the case with powder and seat the bullet. if you pressed the primer in too far and too hard, the Fulminate might detonate.

      The Berdan Primer was supposed to be pressed in flush with the base of the Cartridge Case, or maybe just a little bit below the base. This Patent Tool probably allowed for that with the little anvil that seated the primer.

Peabody Reloading Tools

     This is a nice group of Peabody/ Providence Tool Company, Reloading Tools. Ed Curtis bought them a few years back. You can not see perfect detail, but the image will give you a good idea what the Tools looked like, when they were put into production.

     Ed tells me the top three tools are for the 40-70, Mid-Range, Peabody Cartridge. This is a Short, Fat, Extreme Bottle-neck Cartridge. It is not the same as the 40-70 Bottle-neck Cartridge used by Sharps and Remington. You can find pictures of this cartridge on the internet.

     The extra metal part is another bullet seating rod. It has a number on it that is a serial number. It may match the bullet seating tool above right. Ed says he would have to take the tool apart to check, and might do so later.

     He says the tool, bottom left, is an early capping tool for the 50-70 cartridge. Ed really likes 50-70 stuff so he is proud of that one!

     The capping tool, in the center, is not shown or mentioned in the patent papers. A lot of companies made capping tools like this. Maynard, Wesson, B.G.I. to name a few. 

     This may have been a "Take Off" on the Raub Patent seen below.


     This Patent was Not useful on those Early, Thin, Folded Head Cartridges. The Cut- away cartridge at the top of this page shows just how delicate they might be.

     Cartridge Head and Rim designs became stronger and thicker over time. This Raub Patent tool (Of 1873) would not hurt the Later, Stronger Cartridge Cases. Cartridge design constantly improved. 


     Recently, I had a chance to buy one of these later type Peabody Capping Tools. The price was right, so I got it, hoping to learn a little more about these tools. Authors look at these tools and say; OOh! Ahhh! these are for Boxer Primers! Of course, there is No Such Thing as a Boxer Primer! 

     Check out the page on this web site titled "Boxer Primer, NO SUCH THING!" on my home page here. There were lots of Primer Patents here in America. There was NEVER a Boxer Primer Patent! The U.S. Arsenals and Patent Office really screwed up. Benet Patented a Primer in 1866 that used it's own Anvil, but they Never allowed Benet to patent it. Thanks to Lou Behling we now know the truth, and I have added more information about the American Primer Patent Story as I can find it.


     When I got the Capping Tool, I wiped the dirt off and checked it out. It was a nice tool and looked all original, so I was pleased. 

I did notice that the little anvil to press the primer in seemed really large and dished out. Way too large for any of the American Patent Primers with a central flash hole.

     The little anvil measured .265 as you can see above. That is WAY too large to press in an American Primer with a Central Flash Hole. American Primer Manufacturers had all settled on a .210 diameter for their new primers. This Anvil was too big. 

     I decided to try it out.  


     In the photo above, you can see that this Capping Tool will not press in a .210 diameter primer all the way. The flat surface of the primer sticks up above the Base of the Cartridge. That will not Work.

     The primer should be even with, or just below the base of the Cartridge Case. You should press them in with the same pressure each time for accuracy. The Anvil in the primer should rest on the bottom of the primer pocket.

     The Cut-Away Cartridge Case, at the top of this page, is usually referred to as a "Folded Head Cartridge Case".

     The next step in Cartridge Case evolution was called the "Balloon Head" which was much thicker and stronger. These Balloon Head Cases were made for Both Berdan (.250 diameter) and American type (.210 diameter) Primers.

     This particular Capping Tool was made to Press in a Berdan Primer. The new, stronger Balloon Head Cases did not require the more complex Capping Tool.

     You could remove this Anvil and screw in a smaller one. Ed says he has one with a flat anvil. That would work for either type of Primer.  

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