Author Topic: John Tansel horn on Blog Site  (Read 6225 times)

Offline T.C.Albert

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John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« on: June 11, 2009, 05:51:02 AM »
A few questions about the John Tansel "flying fish horn" shown recently on the Blog Site.....

https://contemporarymakers.blogspot.com/2009/06/john-tansel-horn.html

first, does anyone know what the paper glued to the rear plug says...?
Second, who thinks he was a left handed carver...most of his shading lines
seem to slant from the top down to the left...to me this seems like a natural left handed stroke?
Just wondering.
TCA 
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 07:48:55 PM by Ky-Flinter »
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Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2009, 04:11:46 PM »
 Good eye Tim, I blew that thing up to 425 when I looked at it and completely missed the plug but I am glad you posted on it to get me to take another look.  I have no idea what that says.
 As to the left handedness, it could be but it could also be the way he held the horn, could have been upside down.
 It is an outstanding piece of work no matter what hand was used.

Tim C.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2009, 04:12:50 PM by Tim Crosby »

Offline Cory Joe Stewart

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2009, 08:54:27 PM »
Thanks TC, I was going to start a thread on that myself.  The plug was the first thing I noticed.  At first I thought it was paint but then I saw the faint writing on it.  Very interesting stuff.

Coryjoe

Offline G. Elsenbeck

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2009, 10:48:43 PM »
From my first glance and guess the writing at above of the staple appears to say 'battle of' and to the left of the staple appears to be 'July'. 
T.C. couldn't that be a very light piece of leather rather than paper?  The marks on look more like 'scuffs' you would note on naked leather. It would be nice if a date could be found.
Gary
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Offline T.C.Albert

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2009, 11:35:28 PM »
It could be a thin alum type book binders tannage...thats true...that would be a better long term solution than paper...someone sure wanted to commemorate where the horn served...and whom I expect...I think Francis has several Ft.Meigs 1812 horns...but John?? Maybe Shelby will check in and knows this piece.... 
TCA
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Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2009, 01:34:15 AM »
 Art/Jan may have more info too. Does that tip look like a replacement? Look just below it, the hoen looks worked.
 Leather would make more sence but the ware spots do look like paper. Hopefully we will get more info.
 Dang Gary, how did you see that?

Yim C.

Offline T.C.Albert

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2009, 02:01:06 AM »
I think the cotton content of old paper was much higher "back in the day"...news print was actually made from pulped and processed old rags...thus the term "Daily Rag"..or so Ive been told....so old "paper" would perhaps stand up much better than the stuff we are used to today...but I doubt the horn saw much use after the note was glued on...rather it looks like storage wear and ink fading, though I dont see the acid burns normally associated with old gall inks, could that be written in pencil lead or plumbago???

Yes, especially compared to other Tansels, the tip looks to be a replacement, although perhaps contemporary with the time the horn was seeing field use...the way the horn is signed, I wonder was this John's personal horn?

I need to dig through all of the documentation I have someplace, maybe Shelby already wrote about this horn?
TCA
« Last Edit: June 12, 2009, 02:05:00 AM by T.C.Albert »
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Offline Randy Hedden

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2009, 04:05:48 AM »
I believe the spout of the Tansel horn is definitely a separate applied tip.  You can see one of the metal pins that is holding the tip to the horn.  Now the question is was this done when the horn was made or done later to repair damage.  The applied tip looks a little large and "Clunky" and is not the graceful tip you would imagi8ne the horn to have, so maybe it was added later by a different hand then John Tansel?

Randy Hedden
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2009, 05:22:20 AM »
Tim Albert or anyone else, where is the "blog" site the John Tansel horn is/was illustrated on??? It sounds very much like a horn that Jim Dresslar had for years, then sold off. If so, I copied the information on the paper covering of the butt plug years ago regarding it being a War of 1812 battle field pick-up, and yes, the applied tip is probably not the original one. I'd like to check it out to verify what horn it is, if someone can provide the link.   Shelby Gallien

Offline G. Elsenbeck

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2009, 05:39:46 AM »
Tanselman here's the Contemporary website:
http://contemporarymakers.blogspot.com/

Scroll down and you'll see the horn. 
Gary
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2009, 06:37:58 AM »
This was Jim Dresslar's horn for a number of years, before he finally sold it. I've handled the horn a number of times over the years, and sketched it back in the mid-1990s. The paper label on the butt plug was still readable back then, and it stated: "In the Year 1812 ------ ------'s Horn Taken at the Battle of River Raisin with Vice Pres. R. M. Johnson & his brother james Johnson, Speed Smith & (in small script along rim edge) General Wm. H. Harrison." The names are all well known early Kentuckians, and I am sure a lot of accoutrements were dropped by the Kentucky militia at River Raisin. But the date of "1812" creates an awkward situation for this horn's veracity.

John Tansel's first dated horn was in 1818. He probably carved horns a year or two before that one, but not as early as 1812. In addition, by comparative studies with other Tansel horns, this horn was carved about 1820-1822. So an explanation is needed for the 1812 date.

The best explanation, given to me by the current owner, was that the horn probably was a battle field pick-up after the battle. The horn was kept as a momento of that battle, which was a terrible loss for the Kentuckians, and provided the rallying cry for Kentucky militia in future battles of that war with "Remember River Raisin." Sometime after the war, probably ca. 1820, the owner took the horn to John Tansel and had it carved, proably to make it a more attractive war souvenier. Thus the horn would be a valid relic of the battle, and the carving was added sometime later by the owner. This almost makes sense... except for:

The two blank areas in the label description, when closely viewed years ago, contained a scratched out "John Tansel's" in similar script to the rest of the inscription. Thus whoever wrote the label saw the name on the horn, and assumed it was the name of the horn's original owner, who "fell" at River Raisin and left the horn. But we know that was the carver's name, and the horn was decorated well after the Battle of River Raisin. Someone in later years must have realized the name was that of the carver, not the owner, so scratched it out so it wouldn't invalidate the inscription. So the real issue is WHEN was the label applied. If by the original person who picked it up, then it is a bogus label, since John Tansel's name could not have been on a battle field horn at that time. If a second generation family member applied the label, to recall what he/she had been told about the horn, then it is possible to believe they would mistake the name on the horn as the owner's, and put it into the inscription as it originally appeared.

I have mixed thoughts about the label, and mostly bending toward the inscription being a later fantasy, or "wished for" scenario for the horn. But if we believe the horn was picked up as a plain horn, then around 1820 taken to John Tansel to decorate, and if we believe a second generation of the post-war owners added the label based on family stories about it, then perhaps the events in the label are true, except for the mix-up in thinking the name was the owner's, rather than the later carver's. But it's a little hard for me to believe a "later decorated" horn would not be remembered as such in the family, but then, it was in Kentucky, and they loved their heros and often embellished them, and their feats. So each viewer has to make up his/her own mind about the label. We'll probably never know the real truth.

A couple of additional comments about the horn. I do not believe the applied tip is orignal to the horn. As others have surmised, it is most likely a later replacement for the pressure-fit original applied tip that was lost. I've seen a number of early horns that had pressure fit spout tips, or at least had such a tip at one time. I have one original such horn circa 1810-1812 where the tip survived with the horn, and a number of others where the tip was lost over time. Perhaps there was a type of adhesive (resin???) used when the horn was new, to help keep the applied tip in place. If so, it is no longer visible, nor did it leave any traces of being there.  But my guess is that the owner lost the original tip, made this simpler tip with faceted sides (foreign to Tansel work), then added a small iron nail to make "dam sure" it wouldn't fall off again. The other possibility is that this non-Tansel tip was on the horn originally, and left in place when John Tansel decorated the horn later in its life. If it ever had a Tansel-made tip with hand-cut beads, it would disprove the label, because it would mean the horn was in use after 1820 (when carved) in order to lose the tip, and that's not likely if it really was a momento of River Raisin, where many Kentuckians died. But we'll never know that for sure, either.

As to the slant of the carving, or particularly the many little shading cuts, I don't think we should read too much into the direction of cutting, as one responder pointed out. I quickly checked a couple of horns tonight, and the direction of cutting runs in both directions on most horns, depending on which figure he was filling in. I think they probably flipped the horns around while carving, more than is done today, and most have mixed carving angles. A nice signed John Tansel horn ca. 1823-1824 has all its small shading cuts in exactly the opposite direction! But regardless, this is a fine John Tansel powder horn, one I'd love to own.  Shelby Gallien

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2009, 07:13:28 PM »
 Great writeup and observations, Thanks for taking the time to do it.

Tim C.

Offline G. Elsenbeck

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Re: John Tansel horn on Blog Site
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2009, 07:23:38 PM »
Shelby, also thanks for the great write up and helping some of us a little more to know of the family Tansel.  It was very informative and quite interesting.  Thanks again.
Gary
Journeyman in the Honourable Company of Horners (HCH) and a member in the Contemporary Longrifle Association (CLA)

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."