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Author Topic: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott  (Read 694 times)

Woodenhead

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IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« on: October 09, 2020, 01:52:03 AM »
This is another one that has been on a back burner for a few years. At a fall Gettysburg Show around 2015, I purchased a common CS Read-Parrott shell for under $200.00. I showed it to Carl and he asked why I bought it. What made that shell so special? I responded that from certain features, I believed I knew who made it and when. That made it worth adding to my collection and it rolls around on the floor at my feet as I write this. The first page below shows the shell in question. It has serious rusting, but all in all, what I consider decent condition. The perfect fuze plug is a modern replacement. The original was probably crushed and it was a common practice during the 1980s (and later) for dealers to improve the product for maximum return on investment. This thin-head fuze is typical of those dug at Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. It probably was issued with the thicker long-range plug seen on two of the following examples pictured below. Anyway, the real giveaway was the smooth rounded base knob, a distinctive feature of the Read-Parrotts stamped "AR" for maker Adolphus Rahm. I have the benefit of many photographs which I can compare and contrast. These unmarked Rahm shells are commonly found on 1864 battlefields and I've seen many for sale. Check your collection if you agree that knowing who made a particular shell and when is of interest.

The second page below shows another unmarked Rahm shell. Its stubby broken-off lathe key and horizontal mold seam on the ogive just above the shoulder are clearly visible. Apparently, Rahm's 10 pounders were cast nose-up allowing the hottest molten metal to for the rounded base knob where there are no air bubbles or casting sprues as are seen on many others. The flawed metal rose to the nose which is sometime notable. With an iron sabot, there was no danger of melting. By contrast, the copper saboted Reads had to be cast nose-down to allowing the metal to cool a little as it approached the cup sabot. Rahm produced thousands of these 10 pounders during late 1863 and 1864. Look around a buy one cheap!

Woodenhead

emike123

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2020, 09:11:59 AM »
Here is one which is in nice shape, save for a chunk of the sabot missing.  It also really looks like the fuse hole is designed to take a wooden fuse adapter...


Woodenhead

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2020, 12:33:44 PM »
Yes, that is positively a Rahm 10 pdr. Read-Parrott. It has the stubby broken-off lathe key, traces of the horizontal mold seam just above the shoulder, and the distinctive rounded base knob with no sprue or flaws. The use of a wooden plug dates its production after cooper plugs were abandoned around April 1864. I assume Rahm joined the other Richmond foundries to make the new regulation Read-Broun shells (large and small bourrelets) for the Parrott guns for about one month, then returned to the traditional smooth-sided pattern as did the other foundries. I don't have invoices to show the level of Rahm's production during this later period but I have seen enough examples to indicate it was in the high hundreds. The two invoices below for January and February 1864 report the production of 10 pdrs. with the copper plugs. Note at the same time Rahm was making the smooth-sided 4 inch Fawcett shells for the imported steel guns like the one found at Fort Branch, NC. These big shells were also cast nose-up with mold seams on the ogive and similar flawless base knobs. Its just my opinion but I feel like the unmarked 10 pdr. Rahm shells should be worth about $100.00 more than I currently see them for sale. I show two below from Harry Ridgeway's great collection including one stamped "AR" and another unmarked like your example.
Woodenhead

emike123

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2020, 05:31:01 PM »
Mine is definitely marked "AR" as highlighted with white chalk.  Preferring to show the shell features, I didn't zoom in on the mark, but it is visible in each photo (best visible in the first one).

Woodenhead

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2020, 08:04:51 PM »
Somehow I missed the "AR" on your shell. I think I assumed you were showing another unmarked example. Must be an age thing.

Similar dynamics can be applied to Rahm's 20 pounder Read-Parrotts, pictured below. A few years ago, I walked into Ran Hunley's Sgt. Riker's relic shop in Ashland, VA. My attention immediately was drawn to a snub nose 20 pounder Read-Parrott. Ran gets lots of shells from the Richmond/Petersburg area. Trying to show off my knowledge, I announced: "Ran, I know who made that 20 pounder and when." His shell was identical to the first unmarked example pictured below. Note that all three were cast with the nose up and the mold seam apparently following the line of the shoulder. Base knobs of all three are identical. Rahm has positioned the imbedded part of the iron cup closer to the center than usual. Maybe an effort to limit base chipping. No sprues or flaws on the rounded knobs. Rahm's production records disappear in early 1864 but I believe it was substantial.
W.H.

emike123

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2020, 02:23:37 PM »
Very informative.  Thank you, Woodenhead.

I have two of the 20pdrs including one with the "AR" stamp (might be the same one pictured second by you above).  I didn't post them to brag, however, but rather to show the one on the far right which has a similar profile, but is a 30pdr.  Would you contend that it is also from the Eagle Machine Works?

Sorry about the photo, but these are on a high shelf and I was too lazy to bring them down to photograph.


redbob

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2020, 05:22:29 PM »
Don't worry about it, the older you get; you'll start to notice that your collection has started to migrate toward the floor. :)

CarlS

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 09:17:39 PM »
I need to figure out how to get it to migrate to my house!!!
Best,
Carl

pipedreamer65

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2020, 12:34:16 PM »
Great info to know.  I have a few of the 10 pounders.  I'll have to give them a good look.  Thank you

CarlS

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2020, 01:38:18 AM »
Thought I'd post this smooth Read shell.  It doesn't have any recess above the sabot but there are some marks from lathing just below the ogive.  It has a somewhat rounded nose more so than most Reads but not to the point of being a blunt nose variety.  The base knob is slightly rounded but not as much as some.  Note the grinding off of the sprue so they can make a lathe dimple.  The sabot is the wrought iron ring of medium thickness and doesn't appear to be pre-engraved.  The shell used a wood fuse adapter which is still in the shell.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2020, 01:42:07 AM by CarlS »
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2020, 02:36:39 PM »
emike - about those 20 pounders, of course the two on the left are winter 1863-64 products of Rahm. Below are some of the others. The far right rounded head shell I believe is the first pictured below. The sleeved 20 pounder next to it is shown in the second page below. I have seen a few of these from VA. all 1864 sites. Matching 10 pounder Parrotts (copper sabots) have been dug in VA in 1864 sites. A digging buddy of mine just found one in the water at Raccoon Ford - early 1864 battle in Orange County. It looks very much like the marked S & P sleeved 10 pounder I showed previously. The last two below are marked Samson & Pae 20 pounders. I think your third from the right is one of those. Does yours have the long, narrow broken-off lathe key? what does the bottom look like? I am developing a theory that the zinc plugs used only by Samson & Pae in their Read-Parrotts during mid-to-late 1863 were actually leftover base plugs from the CS regulation percussion fuze of 1861, prior to the adoption of Archer's percussion fuze. Some of the excavated examples appear threaded on the inside for the raised screw that was par of the original. S & P was a major producer of all kinds of fuzes for the Army and Navy during 1861. Your 20 pounder with the big full-body sleeve was a fairly common style. I have shot many. I'm still working on the source.

CarlS

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2020, 12:08:42 AM »
Great info.

In the 4th Read just posted above you indicate it has a "white metal fuse".  What type of fuse would that be in those shells?
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2020, 01:17:54 AM »
Carl - about that 10 pounder Read-Parrott. What do we know from the photos. It is an early projectile. Among the first to get a lathe dimple in the bottom. The entire smooth-sided body was not lathed. I believe the practice of lathing was relatively new when your projectile was finished. Remember, the first approx. 10,000 Read-Parrotts made in Richmond during 1861- early 1862 were not lathed. They were simply cast with the approx. windage and ground down on a stone if need be. These are often mis-identified as Federal Parrotts. I think your shell was one of the transitional models like the example shown below. It is probably not a "Tredegar" because it has a crappy hammered, rather than rolled (thicker and better quality), wrought iron sabot. It was a hot pour done with the nose down. Hitting the bottom with a chisel was commonly seen on 1861-62 CS Read-Parrotts. If there is no provenance on your shell, I'd place my bet on the June & July fighting on the Peninsula. Possibly even earlier like Williamsburg.
W.H.

emike123

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2020, 10:37:44 AM »
Dues to surface pitting, I cannot see a lathe lug on the third one from the left, but here is a picture of the bottom.

PS:  Thanks for making me lift this puppy off that high shelf ;-)



« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 10:40:33 AM by emike123 »

emike123

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Re: IDing A Common Commercial Read-Parrott
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2020, 10:40:01 AM »
Fourth 20pdr in from the left may be a common shell pattern, but the fuse in it is anything but (Broun percussion fuse)!