Author Topic: Carved Butt Powder Horn  (Read 996 times)

Offline J Harvey

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Carved Butt Powder Horn
« on: June 10, 2023, 12:31:13 AM »
Hello to all,

This powder horn came in a group of items I purchased from a Massachusetts family, which had kept it in the family for many generations. This family were not collectors but had inherited a number of old items of interest. I solicit your opinions as to its age, nationality, branch of service (if any), etc..

The horn measures 15" in a straight line, from tip of spout to outside end of butt cap. I assume the brass hanger/ring thingies were added at some point and not original to the horn. I will gladly remove them, but first want to make sure they are not original.

It seems to be missing a spout cover, which may have served as a powder measure. It has interesting copper tacks securing the cap, in that they have 'wings' to prevent rotation. I thought this might help in determining the horn's age.


Butt Cap carving looks to be a General/Flag grade officer, by the cut of his uniform.










Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Carved Butt Powder Horn
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2023, 06:25:36 PM »
 I suspect that at one time all three of the pulls at the neck were the same. One ring was either lost or removed, a Layard was probably attached to the bottom one for the cap/measure and the other two for the strap or another measure, one of them looks polished or cleaned. Since it has a large carved ring at the bottom of the tip which could have been used for the strap I'm thinking the pulls were added later but well positioned because they seem to sit right in the center of the diamonds carved in the neck. The pull in the butt looks to be the same as the other three, so they could of all been added at the same time or are original to the horn. In the bottom Pic it looks like there is a groove where a cap may have been fitted so it could be twisted into place and not lost, got a better Pic of that, it must have been large based on the size of the carved ring. As for the carved butt, it may be a replacement, there doesn't seem to be much ware where the strap would have rubbed on it. The tacks in the cap are replacements, you can tell by the ghost ring left by the originals, which also makes ne think the butt is a replacement.
  Not much help, just my 2CW.

  Tim

Offline J Harvey

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Re: Carved Butt Powder Horn
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2023, 09:49:28 PM »
Thanks, that's a great deal of help.

Someone who's been collecting old stuff for 50 years (like me) should not have failed to notice the 'ghost rings' around the copper tacks. I'll chalk it up to my profound ignorance of powder horns. Also, the 'ghost rings' show up much better in photos than in natural light.

Your observations and comments have opened my eyes to a logical explanation of questions I have about the horn. The brass rings at the throat made no sense, in light of the carved ring in the neck. But with the same type brass ring in the butt, one must ask where the strap would have been secure to the butt. However, it now seems obvious that the original butt must have had something to which a strap could attach. At some time the original butt was replaced with the one currently on the horn; all the rings were then added.

I had also guessed that the groove in the spout was for securing a measuring cap. The one screw that's missing a ring is different from all the others, and must have been added even later. Here are photos of those two areas.

Any idea of the age of this horn? Any idea why someone would go to the trouble of carving a nice butt cap to replace a damaged one, unless it was replaced back when powder horn were still in use? Perhaps it's supposed to be George Washington: that would make some sense if the butt is a replacement at a later time than the revolution.





Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Carved Butt Powder Horn
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2023, 12:44:01 AM »
 Thanks for the extra Pix. The channel does look like it was cut to secure a cap/measure. As to the age, I would not hazard a guess. I have heard but never seen any hard evidence, that in the "20 or so some old horns were carved and decorated to increase their value. I could see a strap going through the two larger rings, added maybe for the "Bling" effect and the one in the base to make it useful. The one on the lower side having a tug attached to the measure/cap with the larger ring removed or maybe it just broke off.
 Hopefully a some of the other members will chime in. Learning is a probably the biggest reason this site exists and the expertise here always amazes me.
 Neat horn, I wouldn't hesitate to make it functional if nothing more than making a stopper for it. They all don't have to be put back into the as made mode. Especially this one since we don't know what the measure/tip, butt looked like or when in its life the pulls were added.

  Tim



   Tim