Dating powder horns

Dating powder horns

The following year, 1759, a Philadelphia combmaker named Christopher Anger advertised powder horns, in addition to combs and punch ladles, among his wares.[iii] Horners used vast quantities of horns to produce a wide variety of finished goods.

This Germanic engraving from the late 17th century illustrates tools and techniques that would have been familiar to many American craftsmen. While no signed horn by Anger is known to exist, the latter half of the French and Indian War marked the emergence of a style that would become synonymous with Pennsylvania in later decades.

Horn was also naturally waterproof and already hollow inside.

, their extra cost and small benefit to civilian users discouraged wide-spread adoption of them except for militia duty.

Heating the naturally thermoplastic horn almost to the point of scorching it, they pressed and molded combs, spoons, and translucent panes for .

Other articles, such as cups, ink wells, and snuff boxes were artfully turned using a foot-powered reciprocating lathe.

In mid-June 1758, George Washington, busy supplying his provincial troops for the upcoming expedition against Fort Duquesne, suggested to Col.

Henry Bouquet that powder horns might be “ordered to be made at Philadelphia, & sent from thence.”[i] Less than a week later, Brigadier General John Forbes, in Philadelphia at the time, told Bouquet that he was sending 28 dozen powder horns to Carlisle to be “disposed of as you shall direct,” and would have another 20 dozen ready for shipment by the end of the week.[ii] As vessels laden with British goods occasionally carried powder horns to Philadelphia, it is not certain where Forbes’ horns were made, though Washington’s comments suggest that he thought local craftsmen capable of doing the work.

An important safety concern was that when reloading a muzzle-loading gun soon after a shot there might be small pieces of wadding burning in the muzzle, which would cause the new load of powder to ignite as a flash.

In some cases the point was closed and the mouth used for both, with a powder measure, a type of scoop used to dispense the powder, and in others both ends were open and the horn merely used as a funnel.

The horn was typically held by a long strap and slung over the shoulder.

The inside and outside of a powder horn were often polished to make the horn translucent so that the soldier would be able to see how much powder he had left.

The use of animal horn along with nonferrous metal parts ensured that the powder would not be detonated by sparks during storage and loading.

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The advantage of paper cartridges was speed; 3 to 4 rounds a minute were possible using paper cartridges.

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