Author Topic: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron  (Read 1914 times)

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« on: December 25, 2022, 08:26:32 PM »
Hi everyone

I just bought a powder horn from a dealer in France. It seems a bit unusual to me, because at first glance it looks like an old ordinary flat-pressed horn, as it can be found everywhere in Europe. Also the top is quite ordinary: a common flask top with upper spring, as it is shown in the Riling, for example, on page 208, No. 12.


 But the material of the flask body is unusual. It consists of bare sheet iron.




Normally, copper or brass was used for  powder flasks, because there is less risk of electrostatic charge,  and ignition of the black powder in the flask.

What do you think?
Is the powder horn ancient or modern?
Where could it have been made?
The décor doesn't look English to me. Rather Central Europe, or Southeastern Europe? Perhaps made  after the actual muzzle loading time (after 1870) in Belgium for the colonies? (It is well known that modern rifles with cartridges were not allowed for the "savages", and flintlock muzzleloaders were manufactured in Liège until the 1930s for the colonies.)

But this is only a speculation.








« Last Edit: December 26, 2022, 02:01:56 AM by Dutch Blacky »

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2022, 11:16:30 PM »
I have never seen a powder horn like this one. (Flask body made of sheet iron, which imitates a carved flat horn)




« Last Edit: December 26, 2022, 09:41:32 AM by Dutch Blacky »

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2022, 12:59:45 PM »
In the meantime I have received a hint that imitations of European powder horns were made in the English colony of India in the 19th century. There are some imitations known, where the flask cops has been  made of sheet iron. However, the embossed pattern with tendrils and geometric bands is not typical of Indian ornaments.

Offline Shreckmeister

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3755
  • GGGG Grandpa Schrecengost Gunsmith/Miller
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2022, 04:48:28 PM »
Does a magnet stick to it?
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2022, 07:43:01 PM »
I will check this. The flask is still on the way to me.

Offline Tanselman

  • member 2
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1559
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2022, 10:11:32 PM »
Would the metal really be iron, or is it mild steel? I would think iron would be more difficult to press into such intricate pattens, while mild steel would form more easily and cleanly.

I wouldn't think having an iron/steel container below a brass top would be a major sparking problem, despite concerns. The pour spout and top are still brass, and that is the part of the flask that would touch or scrap on an iron barrel where a spark could be disastrous. As long as the top part is brass, where powder particles are present, it doesn't seem as critical if the lower container portion is a different metal, since it's not the part making contact with a muzzle, nor does it have an open path to the powder inside.

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: December 26, 2022, 10:14:34 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2022, 11:07:29 PM »
Thanks for your comment, Shelby.
It may be steel, not pure iron. But how could I distinguish steel and iron without a metallurgical analysis?


Offline Tanselman

  • member 2
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1559
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2022, 11:37:13 PM »
We need to get Jim Kelly of Michigan, metallurgist and at times contributor on this site, to give us an informed opinion of the iron/steel question, but from my limited knowledge, it just about has to be mild steel to be coldworked into such an intricate pattern without cracking... unless we find out it's really pewter... or one of those grey "zinc" metal flasks. Need to get that magnet test going.

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: December 27, 2022, 09:25:03 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Dphariss

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9751
  • Kill a Commie for your Mommy
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2022, 05:57:35 PM »
Thanks for your comment, Shelby.
It may be steel, not pure iron. But how could I distinguish steel and iron without a metallurgical analysis?

In the modern world, if my info is correct, 1010 is steel 1008 is iron. Undetectable difference without modern equipment.
Now low quality “iron” would not likely withstand being formed into a flask. It would fail along one the lines of  impurities. Because iron from even most of the 19th c. has a LOT of ”$#@*” in it unless well refined. If we work with some iron of the Civil War era we will find many inclusions. Even in things like percussion Sharps receivers which one would think were really good stuff. Nope, until the 1878 model, at least, the CV rifles/carbines and others made from the CW era forgings were riddled with slag and such. I we look to factory guns fo the 1860s, 70s, 80s we find receivers with “forging lines”. I have seen these actually form “fins” when run through a cyanide case hardening process and quenched.
Back in the day they could not easily tell low carbon steel from the better grades of iron. The Rifle Muskets of our Civil War had “best iron” barrels, it was more reliable that steel of the time for this use.  Steel or “best” Iron  from  1770 is far different in quality than steel or “best“ iron made in 1860. I have had piece of old shafting from a friends scrap pile I was making into a front  sight actually fail at an inclusion as I filed it to shape. Piece broke off along a straight line. And I have seen inclusion lines in late 19th c suppository type rifle barrels too.
I believe the better English guns for example were made with “damascus” steel because it was far more refined. W. Green tells us in the 1830s that very good “damascus” barrel steel was made from horse shoe nail stubs. They were melted, formed into a bloom and hammered into bars. The process burned off/removed  most if not all the impurities and carbon that would have been in the nail stubs.

Too much info sorry. Got carried away. Not a metallurgist. But I suspect that Mr Kelly post it would be similar but more technical.
So when the flask was made of what ever metal it is,  telling iron from steel at least in modern parlance,  may have been simply that steel would harden and iron would not.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2022, 05:53:39 PM »
Finally the package arrived this afternoon.

The body of the flask is painted with a dark reddish brown patina like color. One can see a grey tin like metal, where the paint is lacking. The metal itself is magnetic. So it might be iron or mild steel.

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2022, 06:10:50 PM »
Some more pics













« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 07:49:09 AM by Dutch Blacky »

Offline Pukka Bundook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3364
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2022, 06:59:25 AM »
I have an old flask made of iron or mild steel Dutch.  It has a brass top and brass band around the joint.
The old leather covered flasks you see are also iron or mild steel.
We also see a good few  Zinc.    Is zinc magnetic?
Zinc flasks are usually in poor condition.
Yours Looks like zinc where the pant has come off.
Such flasks are not rare, so yours is probably old.
Having said that, being marked in grains has me wondering!
English would be drams as you know, so who used grains? Not on the Continent I don't think.

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2022, 10:11:35 AM »

..........

Having said that, being marked in grains has me wondering!
English would be drams as you know, so who used grains? Not on the Continent I don't think.


I got some french flasks and also some english flasks with a marking in grains. The photo shows 4 of them with a zink body. The one on the left side is probably english (like Riling no.715, )  the others are french ( hunting scene like Riling no 611; decoration Parforce horn, bag, guns, dead game  not in the Riling ??   ; dog, guns, bag, Parforce horn like Marquiset no 238)

But I did not see a powder flask before,  that is an imitation of a decorated flat horn.



Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2022, 12:04:34 PM »
There is another french flask showing a lion with a flask body made of copper(?) (Marquiset no.163) that is marked in grains on the  charger.




Offline Pukka Bundook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3364
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2022, 06:26:32 PM »
Very interesting Dutch!
It never occurred to me in what manner French flasks were marked!
I suppose for export flasks could be marked in different ways.
One would not normally expect a French item to have English weights used, so these flasks are all the more interesting.
Did France Always use grains, or were some marked in grams?

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2022, 06:49:59 PM »
I did not jet see french flasks that are marked in grams. But there is nothing impossible. There are so many variations of metal powder flasks.

Offline Daryl

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15078
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2022, 10:41:58 PM »
I was just reading through this thread for the first time. I first thought English, then saw the grain markings - and went from 60gr. to 85gr. Puzzling indeed.
French seems the best guess, I assume.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2023, 11:13:45 AM »
That´s what I guess too, Daryl. Probably french, (or from Belgium, Liége?) but not a first quality flask. Maybe a decoration flask for the smoking room, made after 1900 in the times of historism?

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2023, 03:17:31 PM »
......
It never occurred to me in what manner French flasks were marked!
I suppose for export flasks could be marked in different ways.
One would not normally expect a French item to have English weights used, so these flasks are all the more interesting.
..........

This might be a real important observation.
So I checked a part of my flasks, that are made in England. One part has no markings on the adjustable charger , by exemple these flasks:





And some have  markings in DRAMS (the following pic shows three of them)





In my small collection I found no english flasks  with markings in GRAIN


Does anyone among you know what markings are on the flasks made in the USA?

Offline Pukka Bundook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3364
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2023, 07:45:39 PM »
Good morning Dutch, and Happy New Year.

I too have a few English flasks with no weights on the adjustable measures.
they are of the lower to middling type.
I see I think your second one down in the first photo may have a fireproof top. the rest in that photo seem to have the common top.
Mine without markings are all common tops.
I only have one American flask.
It is marked "AMFLASK &Cap Co"
down the side of the measure it says "Drams"   But the actual dram stampings are really mickey mouse!..... cant get pictures at present, but the dram measure is stamped the wrong way up, (inverted number 3's)   and the fractions  Seems to read  1/4, ...1//2.......then 1/4 again on highest measure.
the fraction are the Right way up.
In all, Very poor stampings.
The flask itself is a nice shell pattern of good quality with a fireproof top, and four suspension rings.


Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2023, 11:23:11 PM »
.........

I see I think your second one down in the first photo may have a fireproof top. the rest in that photo seem to have the common top.
Mine without markings are all common tops.
I only have one American flask.
It is marked "AMFLASK &Cap Co"
down the side of the measure it says "Drams"   But the actual dram stampings are really mickey mouse!..... cant get pictures at present, but the dram measure is stamped the wrong way up, (inverted number 3's)   and the fractions  Seems to read  1/4, ...1//2.......then 1/4 again on highest measure.
the fraction are the Right way up.
........


Yes,  you are right.

It might be a characteristic for flasks from the continent, that they got markings in grains. 

Thank you all  a lot for your helpful comments

Offline JSMOSBY

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2023, 07:26:17 PM »
Are your "iron/steel" flasks ferrous or non-ferrous?  Pewter was commonly used and is not magnetic.

Offline Pukka Bundook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3364
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2023, 07:34:15 AM »
Iron and or steel flasks are just that, J.Smo.
I don't think you will find non-ferrous iron or steel.  :-)

Mine are a bit rusty too..

best,
Richard.

Offline Dutch Blacky

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
Re: Unusual powder horn made of sheet iron
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2023, 11:00:42 AM »
Are your "iron/steel" flasks ferrous or non-ferrous?  Pewter was commonly used and is not magnetic.


It is most probably no pewter.  I think it might be  an alloy of iron and zink.
I got some french or continental flasks, made of similar material. Only the big one in the middle might be of pewter


« Last Edit: January 15, 2023, 12:10:05 PM by Dutch Blacky »