Author Topic: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?  (Read 1341 times)

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« on: March 10, 2021, 07:07:24 PM »
I have an engraved Powderhorn done in the French and Indian War era ‘English’ style. A local experienced black powdah shooter and historian looked at it and remarked that one of the Forts mentioned was only used by that name for about 6 to 8 years.

So his thoughts were that someone of exceptional research knew this and made the horn as a replica, or that it could be authentic. It certainly looks old and we believe the patina to be genuine.

So to my question, who could authenticate such a horn for me? Would adding pictures here help?
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline louieparker

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2021, 07:11:23 PM »
If you have some good photos please post them. LP

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2021, 08:18:21 PM »
The Honorable Company of Horners should have someone who could help.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2021, 11:07:08 PM »
Thanks all!

Right now Ken Hamilton, aka ‘Pawaganinini’, is also looking at it.

Most curious, Fort Ticonderoga is spelled out twice and differently, one place spelt as ‘TINONDROGA’ on the drawn/sketched map. Lake Oneida is ONYDA.








All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline ScottC60

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2021, 05:49:26 AM »
There were no dictionaries available to most until the 1800s.  Spelling varied from writer to writer and even by the same person.

For example: Clark spelled Sioux at least 27 different ways in the expedition's journals.

Offline Top Jaw

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2021, 04:51:40 PM »
A better authentication would need to be made by an expert under magnification.

I am not an expert!  Saying that upfront. I’m going to give you my perceptions of your pictures for what they’re worth.

1) The horn has a very “mottled” darker color. Not one that would’ve typically been scrimshaw to that degree during the F & I War.  If you look at originals, they typically used horns that were more uniform and lighter in color so the scrimshaw would show up better.  Especially scrim of this level.  Plus they had a wealth of good horns to choose from. At the very least, I would say this was someone’s personal horn that was scrimmed after the fact.  As a souvenir of war. 

2) The scrim appears much newer and the cuts sharper to me (in the pictures) than the date on the horn, or the horn itself.   If you look at originals, or look at pics of them from the F & I war, the lettering is worn down and shows a lot of patina.  My gut says this one is lacking that level of age and patina. 

3) Many original horns were scrimshaw over as fakes.

Again, these are my first impressions without having the horn in hand under good light with magnifiers.   My opinions may change if that were the case. 
« Last Edit: March 11, 2021, 05:31:15 PM by Top Jaw »

Offline louieparker

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2021, 05:34:23 PM »
Like Top Jaw I am no expert. But my opinion is you have an old horn with new engraving..  LP

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2021, 05:37:14 PM »
Thanks Top Jaw, we are thinking along the same lines, real old horn, but scrimmed later to much later.

Lookie below, a recent authenticated $30K horn (auction sale) on left, my horn to right. My horn looks like done by SAME person/style or made to be a COPY of it.

The sketches on my horn are a mix of city (Albany, etc) & English frontier Forts or places around Lake George & Fort Ticonderoga, but some key military places are missing. And no French terms used. The theory is that it could have been done ‘by’ or ‘for’ someone who was more of a military administrator from NY, versus a fighting Officer ... if genuine that is. But otherwise still could be a competent forgery or just a replica, with no ‘mal intents’ of purpose.

So my question is now ... where do I take it from here?


All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2021, 07:14:08 PM »
I am thinking now that the hole in the base plug does not appear right. Meaning, if it was a fancy plug there, then why the staple? And the staple looks more like one to secure electrical cords.

And on an otherwise fancy horn, would not the wood base plug be domed or more fancy?
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2021, 07:33:09 PM »
Many horns of that era had lobed “overhangs” to which the strap was fastened. Many of those broke off, were kind of or completely cleaned up, and a new form of attachment devised.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Collector

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2021, 09:05:25 PM »
I know it was in use in the English language, but does the use of a name with a 'apostrophe' (lack of possessive actually) bother anybody but me?  Maybe I'm used to seeing 'His Horn'.

The perfectly round nail head is a 'no-go' for me.  A roughly scraped horn without a single 'chatter' mark on it (?) and with well done engraving? The horn displays lighter shades through the middle, evidencing 'wear:, but none at the throat?  Opposing/mirror-image pattern cuts that don't match up at this level of art?  Do all the crossbars on the 'A's' have the 'v' shape, or are some straight? Can't tell.

The plug appears to be pine and not quite, but close to 'old growth'. Old-ish and repurposed?  Pine plug in a fine art horn and a 'North East' horn doesn't ring true.  Turning the photo upside down I see a '56' but no '17''?  The aged milk paint is over-done, a step too far. The hole I can neither make hair or hide out of.

I think it was an interesting old horn that should have been left alone, but was reworked for/by a re-enactor.  I'd certainly keep it, or put it together in a bag and horn display ensemble, or use it for re-enacting,   Enjoy it.  I just wouldn't make a big deal out of it.

All that said, I would gladly stand corrected in my opinion were it to be proved to be otherwise.



Offline Collector

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2021, 09:37:21 PM »
From a collector's view point, it's entirely possible that this was a large and look fairly early horn, given the work at the throat and of Southern origin, by virtue of the pine plug, that surely would have held more interest and more value if simply left alone. The honest history of the horn has been displaced and obscured by someone's efforts to improve it, or produce a marketable fake.

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2021, 10:35:51 PM »
Thank you Collector!
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline Collector

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2021, 04:55:01 AM »
Those are only my opinions, not the 'be all-end all' of considered opinion and authority on the item, or the subject for that matter and really intended to promote further discussion.

I'd be interested in hearing what someone who has actually had it in hand has to say about the horn.

Don't ask me why, but the more I look at your photos, the more I feel like I've seen this horn before, 15-20 years ago.
If you're comfortable, when, or how did you come by it?

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2021, 05:35:56 AM »
Just my thoughts on the subject: Didn't Ft. Ticonderoga go by the name of Fort Carillon up to 1760? I believe it did undergo a name change when it was taken from the French by the English. Is this important here? I don't know. The NYC scene is a pretty standard motif and looks similar on most map horns. The horn does not have a jacket, nor an engrailed throat as most of the good horns possess. The intrinsic color of the horn is not in keeping with most early horns. They are lighter in color and more to the tan/yellow coloration. Also, it just doesn't quite look right. I am no more expert than one who bought two screaming good horns for serious money that turned out to be nice old horns with nice new carving. I survived it, but have a jaundiced eye when looking at them now. Today it is Caveat Emptor with these. Walter O'Connor once said that a number of contemporary carvers lived on Long Island and were contemptuously known as 'The Long Island School.' Like others who have commented on this, I feel that it's an older horn with newer carving.
Dick 

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2021, 07:02:53 AM »
Don't ask me why, but the more I look at your photos, the more I feel like I've seen this horn before, 15-20 years ago. If you're comfortable, when, or how did you come by it?

I got it from a friend who lives in VT, after I had made his son a LH flint Hawken. They told me that "an old man who was into black powdah from NY" gave it to the Father.

Maybe it made the rounds at various BP shoots/events or MZL snowshoe biathlons in NE? As I attend every one that I can, or at least did pre-Covid.
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Online JTR

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2021, 08:57:29 PM »
No expert here either, but I agree, maybe new, probably old horn, with new carving.
Looks to me like the carving was done with a Dremel tool. Magnify it up and look close at the lines. The tiny round dots are from the cutter head of the tool. Old original artwork on horns was usually cut with a knife type blade of some sort, and the lines look like it.
In the 1970s, 80s, adding scrimshaw to old original horn products was pretty popular. Maybe still is today, I don't know.

A close look with a 10 power or so glass should answer your question. Look at it through a microscope and you might be able to see the cutter rotations!

Or send it to Louie and let him look at it!
John Robbins

Offline Majorjoel

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2021, 01:09:34 PM »
A little over 10 years ago, I had a similar powderhorn come my way and asked here on the ALR about it's authenticity.   Sadly the pictures I posted were lost to P\B but the discussion is definitely worth the time to read.    https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=11233.0
Joel Hall

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2021, 02:52:30 PM »
A little over 10 years ago, I had a similar powderhorn come my way and asked here on the ALR about it's authenticity.   Sadly the pictures I posted were lost to P\B but the discussion is definitely worth the time to read.    https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=11233.0

  I got the pix where you can see them but the PB band is still there. TC

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2021, 10:00:38 PM »
Tim - Thanks for posting that!

All - Am inclined to believe “Old horn -new engraving”, so I will arrange to have it viewed under a microscope.

More later ...
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into one ragged hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd & other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2021, 02:11:28 AM »
This horn looks very much like an old horn with modern engraving; a 10X eye loop should answer the question quickly. There is no "mellowness," wear, or true age indications with that "consistently black" colored carving, and some of the cutting lines look too wide and shaky when blown up.
Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: March 16, 2021, 08:17:18 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Who could authenticate a Powderhorn for me?
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2021, 11:03:58 PM »
Back in the Mid 1970’s there was a man who lived near Baltimore Maryland who would buy up all of the plain antique powder horns he could find and then scrimshaw them. He did very nice work and would have a table at the Baltimore gun show as well as others that were heaped with his creations. Everybody knew that the decorative work was new, but he sold a ton of them because they looked nice and weren’t that expensive. I’ve seen several pieces of his work surface over the years, and usually for a big asking price. Unfortunately I’m sorry to say that I think this horn is probably another example of his work.