The numerous references obtained have been tabulated under the headings of the different names and values given to measures. In some cases the same author will appear under more than one heading (4). By far the commonest usage (25 cases) is of 'Drachm' meaning 27½ grains and interchangeable with dram. In this form, after the Thomson/D'Antoni reference, the earliest is Thornhill in 1804 with Scott in 1820 the third. Thereafter the usage grows and may possibly be ascribed to a Victorian desire for a more ornate form of spelling. Nevertheless, throughout the period the alternative, and perhaps more correct spelling continues with 16 references quoted.
For examples of the use of a whole variety of measurement terms in one literary source, the pages of The Oriental Sporting Magazine published from June 1828 to June 1833 provide rich pickings. In May 1832 'An Old Sportsman' writes, "In my opinion, one drachm of powder to seven drachms of shot, apothecaries weight, is the right charge for a flint gun, but I have generally found one quarter less of powder quite sufficient for detonators, thus making the charge of both guns nearly equal, allowing for the priming of the flint gun.
"For a heavy piece intended mostly for duck, the best charge I know of is one drachm and a half of powder, exclusive of priming, to an ounce and a half of shot; this I conceive to be the heaviest charge that can be fired with convenience. For my own gun, which is a particularly light one, I merely load with TWO SCRUPLES TWO GRAINS of powder to six drachms of shot, and it kills remarkably well..."
This correspondent confines himself completely to apothecaries weights with the exception of one mention of ounces. The scruple referred to is, in fact, twenty grains giving a charge weight of 42 grains.
The next item for the same month of May 1832 under the signature 'Eurytion' deals with rifle shooting and contains the following paragraph: "The rifle employed on this occasion was an 18 gauge detonator, and the charge of powder exactly the fill of the bullet mould."
In February 1832, this same 'Eurytion' complains about one 'Ramrod' giving measures which are clearly intended to be drams avoirdupois and which he considers (and spells) as drachms thereby condemning 'Ramrod' for giving birth to "an abortion in the shape of the most preposterous and fallacious advice ever penned on this subject."
Elsewhere in the pages of this oriental sporting gentlemen's magazine can be found similar references, similar confusion and at the same time accurate and correct references (4).
Captain Lacy in his The Modern Shooter of 1842 deserves special mention for using both spellings in their correct context when he uses the drachm for large amounts spread out to dry and the dram for loads.
Some indication of the difficulties experienced by authors can be gleaned from Colonel Chesney's Observations on the Past and Present State of Fire-Arms and on the Probable Effects in War of the New Musket (1852) in which he describes the Minié Rifles then coming into vogue, and in every case measures their powder charges in grains but divided by a factor of ten. Thus a French rifle of .672 with a bullet stated to be 730 grains uses only 9 grains of powder to penetrate an inch of timber at 900 yards. Given Chesney's background in the Royal Artillery and his distance from the printer it would seem to be fairly obvious that this was a printing problem caused by an ignorant sub-editor.
(4) The Oriental Sporting Magazine is excluded from the table of authors as it uses every system indiscriminately.