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Engraved Black Powder Horn

The heyday of American engraved powder horns spanned the French and Indian War, beginning in 1754, to the final battles of the Revolutionary War in 1783 and were pretty much phased out of use during the Mexican war (1846-48) when the Army no longer required powder horns as a regular accessory.  Armies required soldiers and militiamen to carry powder horns with identifying markings to avoid confusion at the powder wagons. Thus the need for engraving . . . possibly the name of the owner or at the very least, his initials or another decorative element.

 Because the Colonial American troops were first and foremost, farmers or frontiersmen, (soldiering being a secondary role brought on by necessity) their preference was for the lightweight, waterproof, and nearly indestructible cow s horn unlike their European counterparts who loaded their gunpowder from containers of wood, leather, or metal.

Whether trapper, trader, or soldier, this personalization of a necessary possession elevated the utilitarian into the realm of Folk Art.  While professionally engraved powder horns could be objects of considerable beauty, amateur versions created by soldiers and hunters often reflected the quaint charm of Folk Art and thus are prized by collectors.

This particular Powder Horn has been passed down through the family where it has resided since the owners great grandfather either made it, had it passed down to him, had it given to him, or traded for it.  (The great grandfather was half Chippewa Indian).


It is very unique in the way it is made in that the tip is made as a cap and measuring cup and the horn is marked with measurement lines of , , and to indicate how much powder remains in the horn.  The color is that Coffee with Cream or Latte color that is so wonderful with various gradients down to an almost dusty olive green color towards the butt.  The horn is embellished with brass medallions around the butt end and tip.  The braided leather strap is intact and is in fine condition.


Now to the engraving . . . we have a Frontiersman with two packed horses (his horse is also dragging a pole pack on the ground behind him). He is wearing a fringed jacket and coon skin cap and he carries a rifle with feathers on it.  He appears to be coming out of a valley in a snowstorm into the mountains with an eagle in the sky. Certainly a story being told here that is worth listening to.

The Powder Horn is 2-1/2 at the widest on the top, 18 long on the outside of the curve, 12 on the inside, 7 tip to tip, and the horn tip measuring cup is 4-1/2 long.


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