Author Topic: Bone Tipped Powder Horns  (Read 4165 times)

Offline Tanselman

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Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« on: September 27, 2018, 12:40:21 AM »
I recently picked up a large, bone tipped powder horn with bee-hive butt plug made of cherry wood. So far, I've received varied opinions as to where it was probably made...with VA rifleman's horn at the top of the list. I collect out of Kentucky and have seen a number of bone tipped horns come out of that state, usually without rings like the attributed Carolina horns. This horn has a cherry plug, and I've seen a number of KY horns with cherry plugs...so I'm wondering...can this be a Kentucky horn? I'd think cherry plugs were more common in states where cherry was being harvested for furniture building so it was readily available in dried state and small "cut-off" scrap and chunks well suited for butt plugs, such as PA, OH, and KY to name a few, which are well-known for their cherry furniture...and KY is the most southern of that group.

We seem to know quite a bit about bone tipped horns, but at times it appears to be more opinion than fact, without hard evidence behind it. I think bone tipped horns were made more widely, i.e. in more [southern] states, than we currently give them credit for. I would like to get some thoughts on where this one was probably made. The outside curve is 16+ inches, and the body is scraped very thin.

This horn came from an auction in Indiana, without any provenance behind it. But the fact it came out of the Midwest is interesting to me.  Shelby Gallien







« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 04:27:49 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Southern Rifles' Companions - Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 01:49:36 AM »
This is moved over from the Antique Gun Collecting board. I hope to get more responses about bone tipped horns in general, and the one pictured specifically, on this board. Thanks,  Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 11:21:05 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 09:08:36 PM »
That beehive base with the bone tip say “North Carolina” to me. Of course, Jay will be able to tell you just where. God Bless, Marc

Offline Howard

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 01:05:01 AM »
Nice horn Shelby. I like it !!

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 01:48:44 AM »
Thanks...I have seen bee-hive plugs on a number of known Kentucky horns, but not quite this large or pronounced as this one. In addition, a few of the earlier Tansel horns have original bee-hive type plugs, but again, not quite as pronounced. With the simpler turning of the bone tip, along with the cherry plug, I thought this one might have come from Kentucky...but I don't really know. So hope to get more comments on it.  Shelby

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2018, 04:35:01 PM »
 Based on the shape of the tip and the Butt, it looks like it has a slight flare to me and the fact that it starts out relatively flat, the Three lines, then goes into a bee Hive shape, I am going to say Southwestern Virginia. I don't think Cherry butts were uncommon from the Upper valley down through that area. I take it that is a screw in the butt? Wondering if that is a replacement or original equipment, would be interesting to see if it is hand made or machine made, just to put an about date on it.  M2CW

  Tim

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2018, 10:26:54 PM »
 Shelby, I hope you don't mind but I sent a link to Jay Hopkins, posted with his permission is his reply to me:

 "The short answer is that it could have come from a group of southern states- VA, WVA, NC, TE or KY. What you do know is that it did not come from Indiana, Ohio or PA. This is why you would love to know a bit more from the consigner to the Indiana auction. Let's go through what we do know. Horns with pinned "bone" (really antler) are found from all five of the above listed states. The tip configuration is more that of VA (so that could include WVA, TE, or KY) but make NC far less likely. On the other hand, the butt with the stepped tier (beehive) configuration suggests western NC, but the straight sides at the base would suggest Tenn. One would like to know the butt diameter and more about the carrying device. It appears to be a screw which would most likely be a replacement (period?) I don't know if it is possible to know what was there originally. If the butt diameter is in the vicinity of 3" that would suggest VA and fit into my category of large rifleman horns. This would also include WVA and KY where such horns were also found. I have, to date, not been able to make much out of wood types as I have seen cherry butts from all five of the above states. I think KY is a good possibility and if there had been a history of the family coming to Indiana from KY, I would have been willing to have included it in that chapter. Putting everything together, I think Tenn. or KY are the most likely. But, a handheld exam could change that and I will look forward to seeing the horn in person some day. Is it possible to get back to the auction house and then to the consigner for more information? This is a good example of why we need every small bit of history about these horns when they turn up. It is far from a precise science and the makers and owners were not thinking of us in the period. There is precious little hard data with which to work."
 

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2018, 10:30:33 PM »
 A Second note:
  "Western VA could certainly be a possibility. I just do  not have much early material from that section. I make the point in the Tenn. (Vol II) chapter that WNC, SWVA and east Tenn and KY are contiguous and overlap in the period and though I have to pick a present day state for the chapters this is a bit arbitrary and to be more accurate one should think of them as an area, certainly in the 18th century. I tend to be influenced by the horns I have for the study and that depended on the people that turned them up originally."

 
 


Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2018, 04:26:08 AM »
Tim,

Thanks for the great posting and feedback from Jay. I will measure the butt plug diameter and height, and see if I can turn the nose screw out without damage to the plug...but if it's too tight, I'll probably leave it alone. A friend of mine purchased the horn at auction recently here in Indiana, knew I liked horns, and sold it to me. I'll see if I can get the auction name/number and check on what they know, and if they possibly might provide the consignor's name/number.   Shelby

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2018, 04:35:18 PM »
Tim,

Thanks for the great posting and feedback from Jay. I will measure the butt plug diameter and height, and see if I can turn the nose screw out without damage to the plug...but if it's too tight, I'll probably leave it alone. A friend of mine purchased the horn at auction recently here in Indiana, knew I liked horns, and sold it to me. I'll see if I can get the auction name/number and check on what they know, and if they possibly might provide the consignor's name/number.   Shelby

 That would be great, as Jay says the more you know or can get, even some small piece of information
 helps fill in the blanks. 

   Tim

PS: I checked on a piece from a Cowan's auction once, they would not give me the consignors name but they passed my contact information on to them and I got a call. Tim

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2018, 04:37:48 PM »
Just a guess on my part, but do y’all think the original finial got knocked off at some point and the screw replaced it?  I see the neck part of the finial/knob on some original and contemporary horns and think, “Hmmmm, that is dangerously narrow.” Just thinking out loud. Tim. Thank you for messaging Jay. Best wishes and God Bless, Marc

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2018, 05:01:09 PM »
Just a guess on my part, but do y’all think the original finial got knocked off at some point and the screw replaced it?  I see the neck part of the finial/knob on some original and contemporary horns and think, “Hmmmm, that is dangerously narrow.” Just thinking out loud. Tim. Thank you for messaging Jay. Best wishes and God Bless, Marc

 Yes Marc the finial could have been broken off and replaced with a screw, would not be the first time. On some Va. horns the butt was of one wood, say Walnut and the finial was of another, Hickory maybe. A hole was drilled and the finial either press fit or glued at some time in its life. What could have happened was, if the plug was lost another piece of wood could have been fit to the hole and then a screw put in.

  Tim

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2018, 12:36:55 AM »
I took additional measurements today, plus got the butt plug screw out without damage to the plug. The photos I took are not very good of the screw, but it is very old, slot slightly off center, and more of a "U" bottom than a flat bottom seen in modern screws. It appears to be a hand-made screw with course, deep threads, flat tip, and file marks across head now covered with patina. Screw is 1-1/4 inch long, shank is 1/4 inch, head is 7/16 inch wide.

Butt plug measurements: diameter is 2-9/16 inches; plug is 1-11/16 inches high above base of horn.
Tip measurements: 2-9/16 inches long; base diameter is 29/32 inch; first step diameter is 25/32 inch.


Nose of plug - when screw removed, the nose is flat with old finish matching rest of plug. It appears, to me at least, that while the nose is very flat, I can faintly see a couple of marks from a knife blade, probably used to flatten it. But the finish appears as old as the rest of the outer surface of the plug. If an integral ball was broken and removed, it was done an awful long time ago. Makes me wonder if, by chance, the plug used about a 3/4 to 1 inch tapered shaft with a ball on the end for strap attachment, like the early Tansel horns had [theirs were made out of horn], pressed tightly into a drilled hole. Hole diameter is about 1/4 inch and was originally drilled...current large screw fits hole well. Here are a couple additional pictures. Shelby Gallien
 





« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 12:40:31 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2018, 03:10:07 PM »
 Thanks for the additional information. The screw looks to me to be hand made but could have been added as old stock well after the advent of machine made, thinking Industrial Revolution, although many screws were still hand made.
 FWIW, I am probably one of few that found this interesting:

 http://www.wag-aic.org/Am_Wood_Screws.pdf

 Would you take a straight on Pic of the butt with the screw out?

   Thanks, Tim

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2018, 11:19:33 PM »
Tim, neat article on early wood screws. The one in the plug is almost exactly like the "1830" type screw. Here is a shot of the plug taken straight on...to the best of my camer's ability. Shelby

« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 12:39:23 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2018, 12:41:19 AM »
Tim,
I added a photo to the last posting of the plug, looking directly into the screw hole. Hope it is what you were looking for. Shelby

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2018, 04:35:03 PM »
 Here are a couple more of Jay's thoughts on the horn:

 "With a butt diameter of roughly 2 1/2", that would take it out of the large rifleman category. They are usually closer to 3". It would also suggest the horn could have been from the first quarter 19th century rather than the 18th century, though there are clear exceptions to that generalization.

The screw appears to be a period repair. I have seen a number of good old horns with a large screw in the end as a fixation device but never one that I felt was original equipment. I don't see holes for a staple and there is no evidence of a dowel filling the hole. The present hole is not large enough for an applied knob- either threaded or press fit. So, the most likely is either an integral knob that broke off early and was smoothed and drilled for the screw or a furniture pull or ring that has a threaded stem. These were usually of brass and were used on small drawers of desks, etc. and were available I think a solid brass furniture pull would have looked right proportionately and would have been the most likely."


  After seeing the end view:

 "There does not appear to be a dowel or filler. There does appear to be some irregular lines on the surface which would suggest there was an integral knob that broke and then was filed flat and drilled. The hole is eccentric which I doubt would be the case with the original turner. Whatever was done was done a long time ago, probably during its period of active use."

 Great horn.


   Tim

« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 04:38:32 PM by Tim Crosby »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2018, 05:14:05 AM »
Tim, I think you and Jay are accurate in the evaluation of the horn. When I noted the plug's nose hole being visibly off-center, I came to the same conclusion you guys did. Thanks for all the comments on the horn. I enjoyed the discussions on the bone tipped horn. Shelby

Offline mbriggs

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2018, 06:58:58 PM »
Hi Shelby,
I have a couple of thoughts to add on your wonderful new horn.  The Piedmont area of North Carolina was first settled by a melting pot of people from different cultures. In my own Guilford County the Germans got here first in the 1740's as our three oldest churches are all Lutheran. The second group to arrive were Quakers. They founded a group of churches between 1751 and 1754 in Guilford, Alamance, and Randolph counties that became known as the Quaker crescent. Last to arrive were the Scotch-Irish Presbyterian who founded local two churches in the 1760's.

The local Quakers migrated here from three areas, the Delaware valley of Pennsylvania, Nantucket Island, and Northeastern North Carolina.  The vast majority of local gunsmiths who worked in the Early Deep River School and the much larger and later Jamestown School were Quakers.

There were three mass migrations of our local Quakers out to Indiana.  The first was in the 1820's.  The second was prior to the Civil War as most of our local Quakers were abolitionist. The last group left between 1866 and 1870 due to the effects on the local economy from Reconstruction.  When they left they took as many of their local decorative art items with them including Longrifles and Powder Horns.

A number of our local gunsmiths were included in these migrations to Indiana.  Early Deep River gunsmiths David Grose and Robert H. Polk moved there from Guilford County.  Later Jamestown gunsmiths Isaac Jones moved in there in 1838, Anderson C. Ledbetter in the 1850's and Henry Wright and Evan Johnson moved there after the Civil War.

Howard Kendall has a wonderful collection of Banded, Bee-hived, and bone tipped horns.  The majority were made in North Carolina.  He found most of them in Indiana.

Thanks,

Michael     
C. Michael Briggs

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2018, 04:39:17 AM »
Michael,

I enjoyed your response...probably explains why northern Indiana has so many Amish farms and folks, from the Ohio line going west for about 2/3 of the distance across the state...which includes Spencerville on the St. Marys River just north of here where the horn came from, out of an old farm estate sale.  Shelby

Offline msellers

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Re: Bone Tipped Powder Horns
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2018, 12:25:30 AM »
Thanks for the additional information. The screw looks to me to be hand made but could have been added as old stock well after the advent of machine made, thinking Industrial Revolution, although many screws were still hand made.
 FWIW, I am probably one of few that found this interesting:

 http://www.wag-aic.org/Am_Wood_Screws.pdf

 Would you take a straight on Pic of the butt with the screw out?

   Thanks, Tim
[/quote Tim,
Thank you for sharing this, is an interesting addition to the curiosity of this horn and discussion.
Mike