National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Supply of Ammunition

Supply of Ammunition

A seal machine is not something you would expect to see in an army museum’s collection, but recently the National Army Museum received one with a fascinating history.

The machine has a sprung handle that pushes down a circular stamp to impress ‘The Colonial Ammunition Company Limited, Common Seal’ – a company that had its origins in the late stages of the 1800s.

In 1885 New Zealand was gripped by a war scare thanks to the rising tensions between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan. Defences were built at some New Zealand ports and – more importantly for our story – authorities became concerned about a shortage of small arms ammunition from Britain.

To remedy the shortage an ammunition company was founded, which by 1889 had evolved into the Colonial Ammunition Company.

The company set about filling the need for ammunition and became New Zealand’s pre-eminent supplier of military small arms ammunition during World War I and World War II.

The company finally closed its Auckland factory in 1982 and later, during a clean up, the seal machine was discovered.

Thankfully a person saw the unique historic value of the machine and donated it to the National Army Museum this important piece of New Zealand’s military and industrial heritage.