Author Topic: Powder Horns  (Read 806 times)

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Offline wsdstan

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Powder Horns
« on: October 17, 2020, 11:40:39 AM »
I have, over the years, picked up a few old powder horns.  Some of them came off of the Indian Reservations and were used for a long time.

Here are four horns and a couple of patch cutters from an auction of Indian Reservation items.

The three smaller horns are most likely those used for percussion revolvers in the latter part of the 18th century.  One of them still has the powder measures attached and one measure is a .32 S&W cartridge which came out in 1877.  The larger horn would more likely be for a rifle or shotgun.



All of these horns have hand carved end plugs.  Some have holes for quicker filling and some do not.  While I have no provenance on any of these, one of the small horns (the second in from the left), is from a museum collection and dated to 1845 on the auction receipt.




These patch cutters were well used and came with the two of the small horns.  Likely for a small rifle, maybe .36 caliber or so.  The auction these came from had a large number of brass trade pots and blacksmith forged hawk heads from a local reservation collection.



When out and about I frequently carry a replica of a 1851 .36 caliber Colt percussion revolver.  It is about the same size as a Colt 1860 Army.  It shoots well and I probably should use one of these horns with it. 

From a bushcraft standpoint black powder arms have a lot of versatility between bullets and power levels with various volumes of powder. 

If you have any horns post them up, new or old.

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Offline randyt

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 04:39:16 PM »
here's a few of mine.








Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 05:20:18 PM »
Nice horns Randy.  The second one looks quite a bit like the ones I have as far as color and the plug on the large end.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2020, 10:28:48 AM »
I have only one OLD powder horn and it appears to be a twin to the one in Randy's first photo.  It was given to me by a friend of Heather's who purchased it at a garage sale.  When asked how the owner came by it or if she knew of any of the old horn?s history, she told him that it was her great grandfather's and had been in her family for as long as she could remember. 

He paid $.25 for it! :shrug:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2020, 03:48:22 PM »
Some guys have all the luck.   :-X
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline randyt

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2020, 05:34:51 PM »
when I was a kid I made a powder horn. Carved a nice apple wood plug, thinned the horn down some, carved the neck. Anyhoo on the way home from my grandparents I was in a old ton and a half flatbed, probably a 1954. The floor boards left a lot to be desired and my horn slipped out and was never found. Talk about heart broken.

A year ago or so I was at a garage sale. They had a big box of horns from india. I asked them what they wanted for them, they said 20 bucks. There must be 12 to 15 horns in there. Not powder horns but horns ready for projects. 

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2020, 07:13:42 PM »
I have a couple of horns from cows laying around somewhere.  I was going to boil them after cutting them in half lengthwise and then press them flat and see what happens. 

I wanted to make knife handles out of horn.  Someday I might get to it.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 10:32:44 AM »
Just a 'heads-up' for you, Stan.....don't boil those babies in Sue's kitchen! :puke:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2020, 10:50:02 PM »
Good that you said that cause I probably would have.  Thanks   :-*
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2020, 08:00:49 AM »
Good that you said that cause I probably would have.  Thanks   :-*

  Actually,  as long as the core has been removed and they've been dried out a bit there shouldn't be much smell,  when I made flat powder horns I boiled them to soften them up for bending into shape in my kitchen and the wife never complained. 
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2020, 09:16:25 AM »
I will do the first one out in the shop just to be safe.  How long do you boil them?
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2020, 09:43:35 AM »
I will do the first one out in the shop just to be safe.  How long do you boil them?

 Just until they get a little pliable,  and take your time, if you try to make them flat (for knife scales) in one try they'll most likely crack,  you may have to repeat the process a few times before you get them where you want them, when you do keep pressure (in some sort of vice) until they are well cooled to insure they keep their shape.
 When you saw them in half, be sure to cut away the tip of the horn up to where it meets the body of the horn, the tip is solid and won't flatten, but it could cause the body to crack if it's still attached.
 
 * be careful, they stay hot for a few seconds after you take them out of the boiling water,  use gloves or a folded rag to handle them until the cool a little.
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2020, 10:15:36 AM »
Thanks Moe.  It will be awhile before I do this and I appreciate the advice.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline Dabberty

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2020, 01:36:00 AM »
Nice, some real history there, I'm kinda jealous :-)
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2020, 09:09:26 AM »
A correction to my original post in this thread.  I said "18th century" when noting when these horns were used.  That, of course, should be the 19th century.  Sorry.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2020, 08:14:16 AM »
A correction to my original post in this thread.  I said "18th century" when noting when these horns were used.  That, of course, should be the 19th century.  Sorry.

  You never know Stan,  Horns and flasks became popular for carrying BP and other dried staples such as salt and sugar as early as the 15th. century, and they became an indispensable item in the American colonies from the 17th ~ 19th century,  some of the larger horns were turned into drinking mugs and some fashioned to carry rum and other spirits.
  Most of the early horns that survived are riddled with worm holes from years of neglect, but some that still retained powder (bugs don't like gun powder) have survived pretty well intact,  I have one that was shipped to the colonies from England before the Rev. War, probably to service British troops during the F&I war,  the grain of the horn is very thick because cattle back then weren't as well kept as cattle are today,  and the horn is dyed with a greenish tint from the brine that they shipped in in barrels aboard British ships,  the brine was to keep the horns from smelling bad and to keep the bugs and ships pests from eating them away.
  My horn was found along with a Third model Brown Bess used in the war of 1812,  it's believed that the owner either picked it up in battle or was one of the British soldiers that deserted and stayed in the country after the British army were driven out,  mine was found in a boarded up attic in Boston leaning against a chimney and the horn was found next to it still filled with powder, a shot pouch was also found but was pretty well eaten away, the Bess was still loaded  with about a hundred grains of very crude powder and an equal amount of dried kernel corn (probably used for pest control in the garden),  the horn was hanging from a Bayonet on a lanyard.
 I bought the gun, horn, and bayonet from a friend who purchased it from the remodeling contractor that found it,  I sold the Bess and it's bayonet to a friend who hounded me for several years and finally made me an offer I couldn't refuse, but I kept the horn and still have it,  and it doesn't look like it's going on 260 years old.   
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Powder Horns
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2020, 12:48:45 PM »
I think these are likely mid-eighteen hundreds on as they came off the Indian reservation in South Dakota.

I know a fellow who has a very well preserved powder horn from the Revolutionary War if the expert who looked at was correct.  It was in the guy's wife's family and has scrimshaw of period troops and houses on it and I think there is a man of war in the harbor.  I has been a long time since I saw it and he is in his late eighties and out on a ranch somewhere last I heard.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)