Author Topic: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887  (Read 1209 times)

Offline AZshot

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Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« on: May 20, 2023, 02:25:43 AM »
Hi, I found this being offered at an antique shop, and told a friend who works nearby to pick it up for me.  Getting it tonight, but thought I'd take the chance for the price that it's old.  The beveled spout made me think old, but I know very little.  Can some experts assess?  Thanks,

« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 03:22:19 PM by AZshot »

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - old or modern?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2023, 02:56:49 AM »
Horn looks okay. Can you give some more photos of the carved sides? The date appears to be a later addition to the carving. Any name or other identifier on the jacket? Town, fort, trail or any clue as to where it might have originated?
Dick

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - old or modern?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2023, 03:22:13 AM »
Hi Mr. Gold, It's on it's way home, my friend says she got it.  I'll take better photos all around.  No story from the antique shop. 

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - old or modern?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2023, 05:05:40 AM »
I got the horn, I am very pleased!  Do any of it's features indicate a region?  I see fish, one looks like a salmon, and having just got back from Alaska I wondered if it could be from there...but there is a lighthouse and sailboat too...so more likely New England?  The flutes on the plug seem pretty unique.  It has wood pegs for the butt. Needs a big crack repaired.





« Last Edit: May 20, 2023, 05:38:54 AM by AZshot »

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2023, 03:32:37 PM »
 Would you take a better shop of the strap attachment in the base. Also of the other side of the attachment at the neck.
 
    Thanks, Tim C.

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2023, 05:23:23 PM »
I'd be happy to.  Click for larger:

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2023, 05:25:13 PM »
Hanger here seemed unusual, at first I thought someone did it later...but now not sure it's not orig. 



Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2023, 05:39:46 PM »
More animals than you can shake a stick at.



And the severe break.  Would you try to repair, or just leave it broken?

Offline stuart cee dub

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2023, 07:20:59 PM »
Some of the drawings especially that of the man leaning into his gun with the dog by his side as well as the set of the sails and the sailboat seem modern as if the were neatly copied from existing pictures out of a magazine . The proportions on the standing hunter and the perspective are hardly naive  . Iím no expert on old antique horns but have studied quite a few originals mostly in museums and I have made and scrimshawed a number of contemporary horns . Itís not the drawings one might expect from the 18th or even the first half of the 19th century artisan. That being said itís not a fake the 1887 date is very plausible . Itís someoneís honest handicraft and made with some skill in the sunset period of blackpowder . I like the carving detail on the base plug and the unusual swivel staple at the neck .
  There were no schools of hornmaking I know of this late . The scrimshaw Iím guessing was made by some talented owner . The horn itself seems more professionally made almost retro in an era where copper and brass flasks were readily available.
 
« Last Edit: May 20, 2023, 07:36:54 PM by stuart cee dub »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2023, 07:29:00 PM »
It is an interesting horn with all the "sportsman" decoration. I think the "1887" date is a good date, original to the horn, and appropriate for the artwork on the horn. The less heavily shaded carving, the figures in general, the style of waves by the "smaller" sailboat, and no sign of any surface layers of horn "lifting" in the cuts [i.e., edges remain very clean] all suggest this later date. I'd guess the horn was made by a capable and talented owner who wanted a fancy horn, could make about anything, but had not made a powder horn before.

The detail that seems most odd to me, and suggests a one-off horn by an owner, is the rear strap attachment where the iron swivel is set into holes in the horn that appear to pierce through the horn wall. This would let small amounts of moisture into the horn, and small amounts of powder/dust out of the horn, through the hole edges. It suggests a good workman, but one without a thorough knowledge of powder horn making... again, a capable owner doing his own horn to impress his shooting friends, but not a professional horn.   

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: May 20, 2023, 07:41:38 PM by Tanselman »

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2023, 07:55:30 PM »
Thanks both, and I agree.  It's a good example of folk art to me, not a horn by someone who sold them.  When I saw the poor online photos, I thought it said 186x, so thought it might have been a civil war personal horn.  I agree the 1887 and the boats and bear and ducks sound like a hunter, maybe up in Maine or something.  I also was not enamored with the swivel cut through the spout end, but it appears original. It may have been caulked back in the day to make it more airtight, but still not a good design.  I figure it's worth what I paid - less than the two burritos I got this morning for breakfast.

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2023, 09:13:41 PM »
The two foregoing comments appear to be right on the money. My thoughts match theirs. To which I will add this: the pennant on the mizzen is flying backwards, it always flies with the wind as do the sails. The engraver may not have seen a sail boat and thus did not know. This is a pretty common error on horns and can signal a more recent effort to embellish
an old horn. Thank you for letting us have a look.
Dick

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2023, 10:07:20 PM »
As a sailor, I'd say getting a pennant to stream with the wind when on a beam reach, would mean you wouldn't see it from the perspective. It wouldn't be drawn because it would be flying directly away from you.  But I think he just put it on there, knowing pennants were a recognized part of a boat.  But didn't worry about wind and perspective.  I don't think seeing boats before or not makes this tell-tail (no pun), nor indicates era.  I've seen lots of mistakes on early horns, like backwards lettering. I'm going to assume the date is when this was started, and he may have added an animal every hunt or every year. 

Other parts of his art are pretty good, the crosshatching on the fish, the ducks are very well done. And the shooter, like already mentioned.  It's not "high art" like an engraved Parker or something, but pretty good work for a home job.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2023, 10:10:35 PM by AZshot »

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2023, 10:21:11 PM »
 Thanks for the extra Pix. Looks to me like the attachment at the base once had a ring in it, like a  furniture pull. The carving is well done, someone had some drawing skills. I do not think I have ever see a cap on another horn like the hunter here is wearing. It is also very sharp and clear and there doesn't seem to be any evidence or wear. The carving reminds me of the style done 100+ years before the 1887 date, (Based on examples in Dressler's The Engraved Powder Horn and Grinslade's Powder Horns Documents of History) Although if the 1887 date is correct it may not have gotten much use before being damaged or replaced by a breach loader. The damage looks like it was stepped on maybe by a horse or cow, whatever it was it had to be heavy to crack it based on the thickness at the base. Can't tell much about repair without having it in hand. If I was mine I think I would leave it as is, it is a nice example.

  Tim

PS: Did you get any idea from the seller where it was found or any history on it? TC

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2023, 10:26:55 PM »

Other parts of his art are pretty good, the crosshatching on the fish, the ducks are very well done. And the shooter, like already mentioned.  It's not "high art" like an engraved Parker or something, but pretty good work for a home job.

 I was typing while you were posting, I agree with the art, the ducks and the deer head, eye and jaw are very well done the artist had a good eye for detail.

  Tim

 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2023, 03:30:21 PM by Tim Crosby »

Offline Brokennock

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2023, 11:06:43 PM »
I'd be happy to.  Click for larger:

That stud looks like the sling attachment stud found on some guns even to this day.

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2023, 12:25:19 AM »
AZ thank you for the full photo coverage that you have provided. As to the crack take it up with one to the expert restorers that you can find here. As to art, it is quite well rendered.
Not sure what kind of head gear the hunter is wearing, but as to a beam reach and such nautical maneuvers, not likely a feature in this scenario. Walter O'Connor, (Mr. Carved Horn) was the source of my comment. He took that as warning that the carving was likely to be recent. He did venture this as a caveat emptor on high dollar horns likely produced by such as the "Long Island School of Carving. What kind of burritos did you have by the way? We have the best Mexican cooking in the world just west of you, if you are in Arizona. The fish is very interesting and is in keeping with early motifs. This one looks like an alligator gar to some extent. Nonetheless, a Devonian fish that could also be a salmon. Gun is of interest, too. Shotgun, or half stocked rifle? Carving was not done with a Dremel Tool and that is good.
Thanks again.
Dick

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - region and era?
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2023, 01:01:19 AM »
I appreciate everyone's comments.  As far as dating it, pretending the 1887 date were not there, or considering normal aging, I would look at some of the drawings.
The cabin has a large stone chimney on one end, in the English and Scotch Irish (not German) style.  It's substantial in proportion to the cabin. A woodbunker at the other end, or other fixture, could help date/place. 

The man is wearing leggings or perhaps high boots.  A coat with pockets, and a powder horn.  It's an "advanced" perspective from behind quarter, not the usual stick figure shooting left or right. 

The "pinwheel" or "quilt" pattern circles with interlocking designs should be familiar to someone as iconography of a region.  I don't know what, but I've seen some like them before on quilts and barns. 

The fish should help regionalize.  One is a Salmon or a Trout.  The other I'm not sure.
The birds are ducks, geese, and possibly seabirds.

It's mostly nautical items around the bottom, a sailboat and lighthouse under stars and a crescent moon, points down, over the boat.  Fish and waterfowl in several places at the base level, and going up.  The man with rifle and the date are darkly enscribed, as are these features.  Other features like a bear, dogs, and deer further up are very light, with a different color ink perhaps.  Then at the top are 3 of the "interlocking circles, spiral, whorl..." circles.  Hard to figure a date out of all that.  Lighthouses were built all through the 19th century.

But the region that had small boats with jibs, lighthouses, bears, Salmon looking fish seems New England up to Maine to me. Not Alaska or the Pacific Northwest. Not the Southeast. 

All this iconography could have been seen and carved in 1840, or 1940.  I'll have to go with 1887, the date the artist put on the horn. 
« Last Edit: May 21, 2023, 01:20:04 AM by AZshot »

Offline Jeff Murray

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2023, 06:53:33 AM »
Really nice horn with obvious coastal influence.  I wonder if the pennant flying off the mast is positioned more for visual value rather than an actual reflection of the wind.  If you look at the waves (again possibly cut that way for visual effect) it would appear the wind could be coming off the port bow.  All speculation but fun to see the horn.

Offline Habu

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2023, 12:36:41 AM »
Interesting comments.  I made this horn, probably around '80-'81, working from memories of a Delaware horn I saw in a museum in Oklahoma.  Up to that point I think I'd only seen one or two actual powderhorns "in hand".  I was in junior high at the time, but even then I was disappointed in my execution of the carving on the butt, and didn't like the swivel near the spout.   

The carving was done in the summer of '83 as a practice piece, working mostly from illustrations in some old Mayne Reid novels.  The compass work was inspired by a horn I ran across in a local museum.  I have no idea who carved the date on there, but it wasn't me!  By then I was old enough to have joined the local ML club, and had built a couple rifles and a pistol.  I carried this horn as a "supply horn" as my main horn was too small to make it through an aggregate match. 

I made a new horn for myself in '89 (carved with compass work but no figures/wildlife/etc), and stopped carrying this one.  I don't recall what happened to it after that; I may have lost it or given it away. 

Offline AZshot

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2023, 08:01:58 PM »
WOW!  Thanks so much for replying and telling us that!  So it was made in 1980, I just couldn't tell. 
« Last Edit: June 06, 2023, 03:52:36 PM by AZshot »

Offline HSmithTX

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2023, 10:30:50 PM »
I really like the plug on this horn and might, with permission, appropriate the design for a horn of my own at some point.

Offline Habu

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2023, 08:33:32 PM »
HSmithTX, as far as I'm concerned the design is just part of a shared "vocabulary" of how things were done, and no permission is needed.  The original I saw was done with a cant file, and was more aesthetically-balanced.  The best way to learn is to study originals and Texas is a good place to see originals.  Most of the local museums and historical societies will have several, and there are some huge private collections. 

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Scrimshawed horn - New England 1887
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2023, 11:18:41 PM »
Well H, it seems that by now you surely must have arrived at the zenith of your horn craft. If this be true, post some more recent examples of your work. Everyone who reads this thread appreciates skill and artistry and will enjoy seeing more of your work given that the earlier effort was very good.
Dick