Rare California Powder Works cartridge box soars to $9,730 at SoldUSA

An extremely rare California Powder Works “Diana Cartridges” 10-gage empty ammunition box sold for $9,730 in an Internet and catalog auction that went online mid-May and concluded June 7-8. The auction was conducted by SoldUSA.com, a hunting collectibles auction site. The shotgun shell box was one of 989 lots that changed hands of the 1,016 lots offered.

“This was a fantastic auction for collectors, as many items saw new world record prices set,” said Chris Roberts of SoldUSA.com. “We had top-quality lots to sell, and people weren’t shy about spending their money to acquire them. It was ridiculous, really, the number of people we had bidding, and the number of bids that were recorded.”

The auction had more than 10,000 individual bidders and more than 500 winners. Participants signed up to bid from as far away as New Zealand, Austria, England, Germany, Japan and Malaysia. The site absorbed especially heavy traffic on Saturday, June 7 with more than 1.4 million hits and Sunday, June 8 with more than 300,000 hits, a record for SoldUSA.com. It was during these two days that many new records were set.

The Diana Cartridges box was one such record. Only four such examples were known to exist before this one was discovered. It was found with a California Powder Works Perfection label over the Diana Cartridges one (not an uncommon practice for ammunition makers). SoldUSA.com sent the box to its restoration people, who soaked off the top label and restored the item to a fantastic condition.

Enormous interest was expressed in the box, but it was not the top lot of the sale. That honor went to a Winchester Rival 10-gage, 2-piece partial Christmas box, 100-count. It soared to $10,797. The box, labels intact, featured a hunter with two dogs on point. “We’ve only seen two of these boxes in 20 years,” Roberts said, “and the restoration is impeccable. Only a trained eye can see a hint of it.”

Following are additional auction highlights. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

A Winchester 1909 grouse poster, boasting perfect color and correct top and bottom snowflake bands, commanded $6,175. The poster, a prime example, measured 30 1/2 inches by 15 1/8 inches and is considered a desirable piece of Winchester art. Also, an exceedingly rare Early Peters Quick Shot 12-gage empty two-piece shell box, in the highly desirable red coloration on the front, hit $3,616, a new world record.

A Liberty Cartridge Company 12-gage 2-inch empty box, pictured on page 71 of The Encyclopedia of Shotgun Shell Boxes, went for $3,205, also a new world record. The box, with a correct bottom and all panels intact, was in splendid condition. An Austin Crack-Shot Shell box, 10-gage, empty, in the rare pink variation, achieved $2,967, yet another new world record. The box was clean and partially restored.

A Peters Trap Load 12-gage “Pumpkin Box” – still factory sealed and as crisp as the day it left the factory – hammered for $2,492. The example had no shell protrusions, no fading, no label wear and no discolorations. Also, a Winchester Express 7-inch brass window display, with a clear 7-compartment window showing various sizes of shot, realized $2,208.

An early Peters Target 12-gage empty shell box in outstanding condition sold to a determined bidder for $2,074. “This is without a doubt the best example of this box we have ever seen,” remarked Roberts. “The colors were bright and vibrant, and the box had the correct bottom label.”

A Winchester case insert die-cut advertising sign, featuring a gaggle of geese, flew away for $1,542. The front goose was a “pop-out” and the piece was meant to hang and attach to another round die-cut, to make up a larger display. A 7-inch by 12-inch Stevens Firearms self-framed tin sign, made by the New Jersey Aluminum Company, undated, found a new owner for $982.

A Western New Chief Squirrel Hunter shell box insert, an example of Black Americana with an insert showing a squirrel hunter and the squirrels conversing about whether the shotgun is loaded with New Chief shells, earned $735. A Shoot DuPont Standard Loads Duck Hunter shell box insert, featuring a duck hunter in a sneak boat in full brilliant color on the front side, changed hands for $627.
An unused Winchester razor blade, still in its original packet and in near-mint condition, brought $535. A price of $504 was paid for a Western New Chief Opossum Hunter shell box insert (Black Americana).

SoldUSA.com’s next big sale will include a single-owner collection from North Carolina slated to cross the block beginning in August and concluding in September. Offered will be advertising items from the 1920s and 1930s, to include posters; calendars; tin signs; die-cuts; giveaways; displays; and more.

For more information or to consign an item, estate or collection, call (704) 815-1500 or email croberts@soldUSA.com. SoldUSA.com is based in Matthews, N.C.