Monday, February 4, 2013

Sporting Collectibles -- Du Pont Watch Fob

This handsome gold filled Ballistite & Empire Du Pont watch fob was a shooting award produced by Du Pont Gunpowder Company to promote its new smokeless ballistic and empire gunpowders.  Smokeless gunpowders -- introduced in the early 20th century -- were a significant improvement over centuries old black-powder used for military and hunting firearms.  

Around 1907 - 1910 -- many gun clubs offered 'solid gold' watch fobs as a trophy for their trap and skeet shooting events.  The article above was published August 18, 1910, in a Pawnee, Oklahoma Newspaper.

Smokeless Gunpowder

One new smokeless powder -- known as Ballistite -- was a propellant made from two high explosives, nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine, and was developed and patented by Alfred Nobel in 1887.  The Du Pont Company did extensive research of smokeless powders for many years before selling it to the public because nitroglycerine was so unstable.

Look at the black-powder smoke from a single muzzle-loader blast.

As early as the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) military leaders had complained that unless there was a strong wind, after a few shots, soldiers using black powder ammunition would have their field of vision obscured by clouds of thick gray smoke, so smokeless gunpowder was a huge asset to both the military and sportsman alike.

Look at the black-powder smoke hanging on the ground after a few shots.

I can also tell you -- from personal experience -- black-powder will foul revolvers after as few as a dozen shots, so new cleaner burning smokeless gunpowder was a major improvement.

Ballistite & Empire

During the early 1900s, Du Pont promoted two new smokeless gunpowders used for shotguns:  Ballistite which was a dense, hard grain, progressive burning powder, stated to be reliable under all conditions -- and -- Empire which was a bulk, soft grain powder, and a favorite with trapshooters.

Sporting collectibles such as gunpowder advertising posters, pinbacks, and watch fobs are highly collectible and fetch top money in today's world.

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