Thursday, September 15, 2016

US M-1910 Pick-Mattock with US Ordinance Corps stamping, WW1 M1910 Pickaxe Entrenching Tool

This post is a follow-up to my previous posing on my M-1910 Pick-Mattock Entrenching Tool.  This is a "mini-mystery story".

While going through my documentation photos on that pick for the previous post, I noticed that there was a very small, partial stamp of some sort on the pick end, near the US stamping.  Sometimes when you look at photos on the computer "big screen", little details get noticed.

You can see the very small marking on the left side of the pick.  It's small, look closely!

I pulled out my magnifying glass and gave the pick a closer look.  I was surprised to see that it was not just a "random marking", but was actually part of an intricate stamp mark!

It appears that the pick had been stamped with the small mark, and US, and then at a later time, the pick had been "cleaned up" with a wire wheel or mild grinder.  It appears that the "grind marks" were exposed for quite some time and had rusted before a later coat of dark olive paint was applied.

From what I can tell from the "clues", here is what happened:  The pick was manufactured and stamped US, and then sent to the field unpainted.  The pick was then used for a period of time, then "wire wheeled" to clean it, then it saw more service in the field.  This previous bit was probably in the 1910 to the end of WW1 era.  At some point, the small stamp mark was applied, and then ground away when it was "cleaned up".   During either WW1 or WW2, the pick was painted olive green and then saw more field use.  The paint slowly wore away and chipped off and eventually the pick found its way to the "civilian world", and ultimately into my hands.

So the question is, "What exactly is the little stamp mark?".  At first I was a little baffled. It did not look like any manufacturer's marking I have ever seen on an entrenching tool.  It did however look like some sort of inspection or acceptance marking.  My first guess was that it could be a Quartermaster's Corps marking, but it wasn't quite right for that.

I "photographed" the mark using my scanner on the highest dpi setting.  I then was able to look at the marking much closer and in much higher detail on my computer screen.  I still couldn't identify the mark.  I could however see that it had been hand stamped as there was a faint "double image" from the punch hopping when it was struck.

I posted the question and photo of the mark online for any collector - experts who may be able to assist.  Within a few hours I had my answer!

The mark is the crest of the US Ordnance Corps!  

It appears that the stamping is "upside down" compared to the US stamping.  You can see the flames on the edge of the pick stamping.

It was confirmed from anther collector and expert, that the Ordinance Corps stamp was indeed hand stamped at the unit level.  He also said that these stamps were applied as an acceptance stamp when the item was accepted from the original contractor.  The acceptance stamp was applied by the direction of the commanding officer of the unit that received the original item.  The stamps were not required, but could be ordered by a commanding officer at his discretion.  Not all items were marked like this, indicating that not all commands required an acceptance stamp.  I am fortunate that my pick received one!  It adds another interesting detail to an already interesting pick.

I have no way to know exactly when the pick was punched with the Ordinance Corps marking, but it would have been when it was first received into Government Service, during WW1 or before.  I am guessing that the pick was sent to the Ordinance Corps by the original contractor, stamped, and then issued out to one of their engineer units.  I know that during the early years of WW2, the Ordinance Corps organized, trained and implemented the first Ordinance Disposal Units (EOD).  It is possible that this pick had something to do with that...........  We will never know for sure though.

Us Ordinance Corps,  Ordinace Disposal Unit, 1942.

It is the little mysteries like this that give me so much pleasure in collecting!  Things with a history always have layers and clues to uncover.  Now I can add a little bit to this pick's story.

Here is a link to the original blog posting about this pick-mattock:

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