This is a re-post of an article I wrote several years ago. My original ISP went belly-up and took all my files/pics with them. I updated the article after I got a new ISP which made server space available as part of my account, but then they turned around and eliminated that feature, so I lost everything all over again (which is why this article is a dead link in Dave's Library Page). I've since uploaded all the pics to Photobucket, but since I can't upload the document containing the pics to Photobucket, I am going to (re-)post it here in its entirety, so it will reside here on Dave's site (hopefully, I will be able to edit it in the future should new information/examples become available). Some of the document formatting features have been lost since I can't use html code in this text box.
I would like to dedicate this article to the late Ted Osborn, Mr. Sheridan, Uncle Ted--a true gentleman who left us all too soon and even more sadly, before he was able to publish all of the wonderful data and comprehensive research he had developed over the years.
A Sampling of Sheridan Pellet Tins
Quality Control Samples
By Ken Walker
Edited 9 August 2005
Edited 25 July 2009
Edited 5 May 2012
I.R. (Bob) Kraus and Ed Wackerhagen were the co-founders of Sheridan Products Inc. (although Mr. Kraus maintained the controlling interest in the company). In 1992, after the passing of Mrs. Kraus (Bob Kraus, a diabetic, passed away in October 1984), an estate sale was held to liquidate all household possessions (Mr. and Mrs. Kraus had no children). Mr. Kraus, the engineering partner in the company, apparently kept (and eventually took home) various examples of first-run and regular production pellets, as well as various factory mules (test bed versions of what eventually became production versions). At the family estate sale, a box lot of pellet tins containing both quality control and experimental variation pellets, and also a factory mule Model F rifle with Kraus personal stamp, were obtained. (This lot was actually obtained at the pre-estate sale, open to close friends and the extended Kraus family--a different lot of tins sold at the public estate sale).
Presented here are the pellet tins (and pellets) that fall into the quality control category, offered in what I deem to be chronological order. Mr. Kraus was known as neat, meticulous, and thoroug--evidence of his engineering background and, Im sure, his Danish nature. These characteristics have provided the Sheridan community with an outstanding body of material to be studied and enjoyed for a long time to come.
The first (earliest) tin is an example from 1953. While Mr. Kraus was consistent in using a date code system to identify the pellets, its not entirely clear that this tin is from January 9th, 1953 specifically, or just 1953 in general.
The marking is scribed onto Dye-Kem that is painted on the bottom of the tin. You can see that Mr. Kraus was very specific in recording the body diameter, the driving band length, and the weight of ten pellets.
The paper label (a green file tab label) on the side of the tin reads as shown above, #1953 .1957 dia.. The body diameter specification appears to be an average.
Here are close-ups of the pellets from this specific tin. A randomly selected group of seven pellets show the profile, the rear cavity, the nose, and the driving band profile.
Here is a picture of the tin and lid; you can see that the tin is just about full, and notably, that the lid has a cardboard liner. I believe that this is an example of the earliest colored-lid brown tins. (Based on my assumption that Mr. Kraus originally obtained the various samples over the years by simply grabbing a current production tin and walking over to the pellet machine and filling it up, I believe the date codes on the tins and the version/style of the tin are copasetic to the production of the time. In this particular case, it also makes sense, to me at least, that using a lid with a cardboard liner was a more expensive approach and was soon changed to save money by going to a liner-less lid. Hence, tins with no lid liners are newer than those with them, even in the same color.) This lid also has a wider edge flange than the later brown lid tins, which have no liner (best seen in the previous profile view of the tins).
The next example was taken on January 21st, 1957. Here is the bottom; you can read for yourself the pertinent info. It can be seen that the code number used on the tins is in fact the date, as it is indicated twice on this sample.
From the tape label on the side of the tin, you can see that this is from the LOT FROM NEW DIE & PUNCHES JAN. 21, 1957. Also, compare the width of the flange on the lid (the portion just above the grip serrations) to that of the previous #1953 exampl--this one is noticeably narrower.
Here are examples of the pellets from this tin.
If you compare the specifications between the first (#1953) example and this one, you will note that the driving band of these pellets is over twice that of the first pellets (.045 vs. .020). While this is a visually noticeable difference between the samples, the body diameter difference (.19460/.19455 vs. .1958/.1956) cant really be visually differentiated.
This tin is full; again, note that this brown lid is of the later style, with a narrow flange (and no cardboard liner). It would appear that this version of brown lid tins were available in the early 1957 timeframe.
The next example is from May 12th, 1959.
As you can see, this is a sample from the first Manville presses used to form the pellets.
The lid has the same information scribed onto it as the bottom, but includes the code number version of the date.
Again, the tape label on the side indicates the date and the average body diameter.
The driving band dimension on these pellets (.032) falls just about halfway between the first two examples.
This tin is only about one-third full. It would appear that by mid-1959, white-lid tins were in use. It should be noted that for the first time, the color of the lid is not the same as the body text; now, the body text is red and the lid is white. This is not a case of a newer white lid being used with an older (red lid) bod--the earlier red lid tins did not include the CONTENTS 500 ROUNDS marking on the back, which the white lid tins do have (more on this later).
The next example is from July 8th, 1966, and is presumably from the first setup of National presses. It would also appear that Mr. Kraus' jar of blue Dye-Kem finally dried up, as he has switched to red.
You can note that while the body diameter is consistent with the 51259 sample, the driving band is reduced to approximately #1953 dimensions.
Mr. Kraus continues to use his green paper labels on the sides of the tins. The last version of screw-top tins, those with solid red bodies and white lids, are in use at this time.
The pellet profiles look very similar to the earliest 1953 sample.
This tin is barely one-quarter full.
The next example is actually two tins, both taken on the same day and with identical specifications.
Mr. Kraus has, for the first time, failed to note the driving band dimension.
While Mr. Kraus supply of blue Dye-Kem may have been exhausted, his supply of green file labels was apparently still plentiful!
The pellet profiles again appear similar to #1953 standards, with a perhaps more slightly rounded nose.
Both of these tins are full.
The next tin is likely presented out of chronological order with the previous tins. In this case, the code number, 1007, doesnt seem to correlate to a date. Given that this is a white-lid version of the tins with lithographed pellets, but has red Dye-Kem instead of blue, I would surmise that this example falls somewhere between the 52159 and the 7866 tins.
The paper label continues to cite the code number and the average diameter.
The pellet profiles seem to show a deeper cavity and perhaps more shoulder.
This tin remains about one-third full.
Here is a more direct comparison of the various samples over the years.
Table of Comparisons
Code Body Diameter Weight of Ten Driving Band
1953 .1958 / .1956 161.3 g .020
12157 .19460 / .19455 160.4 g .045
51259 .1945 / .1945 151 g .032
1007 .1951 / .1953 158.6 g .035
7866 .1945 / .1947 156.6 g .023
21367 .19460 / .19465 157.2 g Not Specified
From the above pictures and table, it can be seen that the driving band dimension has varied significantly over the years. Was this deliberate or just simple manufacturing variance as the punch and dies wore over time? There are also differences in nose profiles; in comparing the 21367 samples above against the others, it is noticeably less pronounced. Another difference that can be seen above, although it is subtle, is in the shape of the rear cavity itself.
As to the actual tins of the QC samples themselves, there are obviously no samples contained in either the yellow or red versions of the pellet-lithographed tins, so where do they fall in the timeline? All of the color-lithographed tins used the same picture as a background, but changed the color of the printing and lids. It is certainly possible that different colors were made at the same time.
I believe that the brown (both wide- and narrow-flange versions) and red tins precede the yellow and white tins, all of which came before the solid red body tins with white lids. My reasoning is that on the back of the brown and red tins, the tin reads 5 M/M CALIBER whereas the yellow and white tins read 5 M/M CALIBER CONTENTS 500 ROUNDS; I believe the pellet count was added to the later tins and not vice-versa. All of the following tins are generic samples, not from the original lot of quality control tins.
You can see in the picture above that the brown lid has a tighter pattern of lid grip serrations than the others. There are actually at least three different variations of brown lid tins: The wide-flange tin with the cardboard liner and the tight-pattern serration lid, the narrow-flange tin (no cardboard liner) with the tight-pattern serration lid, and the narrow-flange tin with the wide-pattern serration lid. These are shown below.
The difference between the wide-flange tin on the right and the narrow-flange tins on the left is more obvious in the following picture.
It is my opinion that the brown lids with the wide flange lids and cardboard liners are the earliest of the colored tins, followed by the brown lids with narrow flanges and no liners (the tight-serration lid tins probably precede the wide-serration lid tins), followed by the red lid tins, then the yellow and finally the white. It is possible that the liner-less brown (wide-serration) and the red lid tins were made at the same time, and that the yellow and white lid tins were also, since the markings are similar in those sets.
Where do the elusive green tins fall? I dont know, as I have never examined one in person, and the only picture I have ever seen is the following:
Enough to prove its existence, but thats about all.
The solid red body with white lid tin followed the various colored lithographed pellet versions. These were the last versions of screw-lid tins and are still commonly available.
The clear plastic container with red lettering and with the black tin screw-on lid preceded all of the previous tins.
When a collector manages to find one of these rare containers, the lid is often very loose or missing entirely. The early plastic used for the container was not stable over time: the containers shrink and the tin lids remain at their original size, so beyond a certain point, they simply fall off as the container threads are too small to retain the lid. You can see in this example that the lid is growing away from the container body.
The very earliest container is the slip-top tin with white paper label; production must have been very limited. This tin was perhaps only intended as a temporary measure while Sheridan waited for the tooling for the clear plastic jars to come on-line.
After the solid red body tins with white lids were discontinued, the plastics bricks, with the single feed/bulk access tops were introduced. The yellow bricks were introduced several years before the red ones. The yellow vs. red boxes differentiated the original bantams from the newly introduced diabolos (note that for the first time, the pellets are not USA-made: Sheridan had no facilities for manufacturing diabolo pellets at that time).
These containers were subsequently updated, and the diabolos are now Made in USA.
These newer boxes still contain 500 pellets, but are slightly shorter and wider than their predecessors.
With the sale of Sheridan Products, Inc. to The Benjamin Air Rifle Co. in 1977, there were transitional versions of pellet containers that used paper labels on screw top Benjamin tins (note that the tin above still has the Racine address--I believe this is the final tin which used only the name Sheridan). These were followed by paper label versions on updated Benjamin tins, but they were marked Benjamin Sheridan, not just Sheridan.
Subsequent purchase of the company by Crosman resulted in more pellet tin variations yet. I havent bothered to show any of these recent versions.
If any collectors can offer more insight into the production sequence of the color-lithographed tins (especially information on the green tins), I would be grateful for the knowledge--feel free to contact me at email@example.com.