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Austin Powder Ad - 1915 Keystone Coal Catalogue
Austin Powder
Burton Explosives 100x6
California Cap Co. 1923 Keystone Mining Catalogue
California Cap Co
  California Cap 100 x 6 I.jpg - CALIFORNIA CAP CO BLASTING CAPS - Round cap tin 1 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. cyl, 1920-1945, embossed top marked BLASTING CAPS DANGEROUS, last design used by California Cap, complete bottom paper label marked 100 CALIFORNIA No 6 BLASTING CAPS in blue  (The common blasting cap evolved through the necessity of having a stronger initiating agent for nitroglycerine and high explosives than the black powder fuse which acted merely by flame.  Nobel’s 1867 patent for the blasting cap was a copper shell filled with fulminate of mercury.  This is essentially still the blasting cap of today, except that later, 10% of potassium chlorate was added to the fulminate via an 1869 patent by Tal Shaffner (patent No. 98,428).  The initial detonation by means of the fulminate cap of firing nitroglycerine and dynamite was of immense importance and made the use of high explosives for blasting practical.  The first common blasting caps used in America were imported from Germany.  Dependence on a foreign source for caps was deemed unsatisfactory, especially on the west coast, and as a result, the first American manufacture of blasting caps was started about 1877 by William Oliver and Freeborn Fletter.  Together they built a small cap factory near Stege, CA and incorporated their business as the California Cap Company in April 1880.  Fletter died in 1899 and Oliver in 1918.  Following Oliver’s death, his son Roland Oliver succeeded him as president.  The California Cap Company became the major supplier of blasting caps for the western U.S. for many years.  It’s interesting to note that William Oliver while founding the California Cap Company also became interested in tonite, a mixture of 52.5% guncotton and 47.5% barium nitrate, which was imported from England where it was made by the Cotton Powder Company.  Tonite was a competitor to dynamite, claiming to be safer, cheaper, produced less fumes and was very stable in extreme heat and cold.  A group led by Oliver made arrangements with the Cotton Powder Company to build a plant in the U.S.   The Tonite Powder Company was incorporated in California in February 1880 and a plant was built at Stege, next to the California Cap Company plant.  Dynamite manufacturers took issue with Tonite’s claims, especially making a case that tonite had a tendency for spontaneous ignition.  However, the increasing price of cotton, the decreasing price of glycerine, and the lower costs of graded dynamite led to the demise of the Tonite plant in 1885.  The Tonite buildings and land were sold to the California Cap Company.  After a long stretch of supplying blasting caps to the western mines, the company ceased operations in the 1940s.  It’s also interesting to note the paper labels on the bottom of California Cap Company tins as they came in many varieties, often repeating the same or slightly different messages.  Finding a tin with the original paper label in nice condition can be quite a pursuit for the collector.  See Van Gelder and Schlatter, History of the Explosives Industry in America, pp 757-58, 654-55 and Martin, Blasting Cap Tin Catalog, pp 20-22)  
California Cap 100 x 6 II
California Cap 100 x 6 III
Metallic Cap May 1902 Engineering and Mining Journal
Various Blasting Tools
Cap Crimpers

California Cap 100 x 6 I | CALIFORNIA CAP CO BLASTING CAPS - Round cap tin 1 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. cyl, 1920-1945, embossed top marked BLASTING CAPS DANGEROUS, last design used by California Cap, complete bottom paper label marked 100 CALIFORNIA No 6 BLASTING CAPS in blue (The common blasting cap evolved through the necessity of having a stronger initiating agent for nitroglycerine and high explosives than the black powder fuse which acted merely by flame. Nobel’s 1867 patent for the blasting cap was a copper shell filled with fulminate of mercury. This is essentially still the blasting cap of today, except that later, 10% of potassium chlorate was added to the fulminate via an 1869 patent by Tal Shaffner (patent No. 98,428). The initial detonation by means of the fulminate cap of firing nitroglycerine and dynamite was of immense importance and made the use of high explosives for blasting practical. The first common blasting caps used in America were imported from Germany. Dependence on a foreign source for caps was deemed unsatisfactory, especially on the west coast, and as a result, the first American manufacture of blasting caps was started about 1877 by William Oliver and Freeborn Fletter. Together they built a small cap factory near Stege, CA and incorporated their business as the California Cap Company in April 1880. Fletter died in 1899 and Oliver in 1918. Following Oliver’s death, his son Roland Oliver succeeded him as president. The California Cap Company became the major supplier of blasting caps for the western U.S. for many years. It’s interesting to note that William Oliver while founding the California Cap Company also became interested in tonite, a mixture of 52.5% guncotton and 47.5% barium nitrate, which was imported from England where it was made by the Cotton Powder Company. Tonite was a competitor to dynamite, claiming to be safer, cheaper, produced less fumes and was very stable in extreme heat and cold. A group led by Oliver made arrangements with the Cotton Powder Company to build a plant in the U.S. The Tonite Powder Company was incorporated in California in February 1880 and a plant was built at Stege, next to the California Cap Company plant. Dynamite manufacturers took issue with Tonite’s claims, especially making a case that tonite had a tendency for spontaneous ignition. However, the increasing price of cotton, the decreasing price of glycerine, and the lower costs of graded dynamite led to the demise of the Tonite plant in 1885. The Tonite buildings and land were sold to the California Cap Company. After a long stretch of supplying blasting caps to the western mines, the company ceased operations in the 1940s. It’s also interesting to note the paper labels on the bottom of California Cap Company tins as they came in many varieties, often repeating the same or slightly different messages. Finding a tin with the original paper label in nice condition can be quite a pursuit for the collector. See Van Gelder and Schlatter, History of the Explosives Industry in America, pp 757-58, 654-55 and Martin, Blasting Cap Tin Catalog, pp 20-22) Download Original Image
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