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Collection Records
(for an ordnance collection)

Courtesy of Rick S.

A few years ago, I decided to put my ordnance collection into an Access database (long live Microsoft!).

The only regret I have with this tool is that Access will not allow images or special characters to be used in the fields of its individual records. However, It will allow you to place a local hyperlink in a field, that leads you to an image or a document with special characters in it. The database of my current collection takes up about 1.3MB of file space.

I designed the organization of this database to allow simple, web-based searches to be accomplished. (NOTE: the creation of the web pages that search a database are decidedly not simple to create!)

Even without the automated searches, I find this database to be a great time saver.

I break my ordnance collection database into several sub-databases that I call Categories. (Access calls them Tables.) This was a very arbitrary decision. The main advantage of it is that individual records for each sub-database (Category) are much shorter. These main categories are:

Shells (245 records)
Cases (194 records)
Fuzes (186 records)
Primers (104 records)
Photographs (976 records)
Drawings (1134 records)
Books (218 records)
Miscellaneous (53 records)

I give each record of any Category a unique Catalog Number. For example, if I get a complete artillery round, I assign all of its components the next unique Catalog Number. Thus, if the next unused Catalog Number was 234, I would assign (manually) this number to a new record in each of the categories: Shells, Fuzes, Cases, and Primers. These Catalog Numbers serve to forever relate the original piece of ordnance as I received it.

I also place small adhesive paper tags, with this Category Number on it, on all of the components of this piece or ordnance. If I should subsequently acquire a fuze, I would assign it the next unique Catalog Number, 235, and only create a new record in the Fuzes Category of the database. Please do not confuse this Catalog Number with the record numbers the database uses for its internal manipulations. These record numbers are not unique, except within their own Category (i.e., table), while the Catalog Number is unique across the entire database, and allows me to access all the original components (from all of the categories) of the piece of ordnance.

The fields within each Category all begin with the local record number and my global Catalog Number. After that, the selection of what fields should be included are a personal decision. The following set of fields are an example drawn from my Shells Category:

Record_Number
Catalog_Number
Body_Material
Shell_Type
Shell_Sub_Type
Caliber(in)
Caliber(mm)
Caliber(Pdr)
Driving_Band_Material
Fuze_Location
Fuze_Present?
Country Date(yyyy) Date(mm)
Sectioned?
Primary_Color
Secondary_Color
Color_Lettering
Lettering_Painted_on_Shell
Location_of_Image
Notes Notes_Long
Stamped_on_Body
Value($)

( The fields of Notes_Long and Location_of_Image are local hyperlinks to external files)

. So, that's the "top-level" picture of my ordnance database.