Early Virginia Shot Pouch & Powder Horn

Early VA shot pouch and powder horn
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Full Front (Click for larger image)

Shown here is an outfit that I made for myself consisting of an early Virginia shot pouch and a Virginia banded, screw-tip powder horn. Most of the shot pouches made these days are relatively complicated affairs using designs from the early to middle 19th century. If you want a shot pouch that is proper for the 18th century, take a close look at this shot pouch and powder horn.  I put together an outfit that I felt would be proper for 1775 on the Virginia frontier.

There are very few examples of shot pouches from the 18th century.  So, I was fortunate to be able to study an original early Virginia shot pouch that matches the size and construction of another published (Clash of Empires exhibition catalog, p. 30) pouch known to date to the period of the French and Indian War.  This original Virginia shot pouch was documented by Wallace Gusler in the December 2009 Muzzle Blasts(pp. 4-8).

The original one piece pouch is square at the bottom (although the corners look rounded due to use) and stitched up the sides with a very fine stitch very close to the edge. A divider that is open at the bottom serves as a welt between the front and the back of the bag. A pewter flap button is anchored to a stag horn button on the inside of the pouch. The stag horn button was covered by a round piece of leather that served to prevent the user’s hand from catching on the button. The flap extends approximately halfway down the front of the bag and has a slight beaver tail shape with a welted edge.

Early VA Shot Pouch & Powder Horn
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Front (Click for larger image)

The original bag did not have a strap attached and was missing part of the leather at one attachment point. However, there was evidence of a strap stitched to one side and a button hole on the other side. Actually, it was just a rough cut hole through which two buttons might have been tied to each other. Wallace Gusler indicated in his article that he believed two linked buttons (as in a cufflink) connected the strap to the bag using the button hole. The hole on the original pouch went through the welt and front of the bag as the back was torn away at that spot. I believe, the button was originally placed on the inside of the back and eventually pulled through tearing the back. That is why I did not run the button hole all the way through all three layers of leather on my recreation of the pouch.

I have made a number of hunting pouches based on this original. I have generally maintained the size and shape but varied the construction (i.e. external vs. internal stitching), the type of strap (i.e. leather vs. woven) and the type of attachment (i.e. location and number of buttons) for the strap. The original pouch actually appears to have rounded corners due to wear, and I made several copies that way before I realized that it was an optical illusion. Even in this very close copy, I still rounded the corners slightly in order to give the bag a finished look.

Not having Russia leather (a thin, textured, red dyed leather commercially available in the 18th century for upholstery work) which was most likely used to create the original, I created my copy of the original using 3-4 oz (may use 2-3 oz) vegetable tanned cowhide which I stained using aqua fortis to give a dark brown color.  I normally use vinegar and iron as a stain on my bags which usually gives more of a blue-black color. This bag is approximately the same size as the original at about 7″ square.  Just like the original, this pouch has a center divider as the welt and is stitched up the sides. In Bag #10, I rolled and hemmed the edge of the flap instead of using a welted edge. I now make these bags using a welted flap just like the original. I maintained the same flap button attachment as the original with an internal horn button used as an anchor for the external pewter flap button.    A leather cover is sewn over the internal button to prevent the hand from catching on it.

Bag #10, Horn #6 - Back
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Back (Click for larger image)

As for the strap, I attached it in a manner as close to the original as I could ascertain. One end of the strap is stitched to the right side (as worn on the right side), and the other end is attached to
the bag using a single small pewter button anchored to another small pewter button on the inside of the pouch. The strap may then be seasonally adjusted using buttonholes in the end of the strap. I usually only cut one set (strap and powder horn hangers) of button holes for the requested strap length, but more holes can be cut as required to adjust the strap.

Early VA shot pouch front panel decoration
Bag #10 – Front Decoration (Click for larger image)

The original pouch was decorated with stamped stars, some forming the initials of the owner. Consequently, I made a matching stamp to decorate my pouch. However, I decided to get a little fancier with a more refined design. I added diagonal lines reminiscent of English checkering patterns. On the bags shown below, I used the same stamp to create the owners initials and to do a Sun, Moon, and stars motif. In fact, I liked the Sun, Moon, and stars design so much, I used it on two bags, one of them is shown below.

Early VA banded, screw-tip powder horn
Early VA banded, screw-tip powder horn; Horn #6 (Click for larger image)

I attached to the bag a Virginia single banded screw-tip horn that is similar to an original dated 1774.  The horn is approximately 15″ around the outside curve with a 2 3/4″ base plug. The base plug and stopper are turned walnut with the base plug attached with wooden pegs. The screw-tip and band are horn. The screw-tip is dyed to match the walnut. Hand forged staples are installed in the the base plug and throat for the attachment of the hangers. The hangers are attached to the bag strap with buttons just as the strap is attached to the bag. This attachment method is purely conjecture on my part, but I think it makes sense to be able to adjust the hanger attachment location as the strap length is adjusted. The horn is dyed yellow with aqua fortis and appropriately aged.

I distress the leather on most of my pouches to give them a used appearance. That means adding wrinkles, scuffs and scratches as well as a coat of black shoe polish to simulate a little dirt and grime. I try not to overdue it so that the function of the bag is compromised. I don’t generally distress the leather to be used on a bag that is to be highly tooled.

You might think that this bag is too small at about 7″ square.  I can assure you that it is not.   Period documentation indicates that most longhunters carried hunting pouches of this size.  They would just carry what they needed to shoot the gun. This generally meant a bullet mold, some bullets, patches, tow, and a wiper. A powder horn and powder measure with a vent pick and brush were generally hung from the strap.

In my bag, I keep some tow, a strip of pre-lubricated pillow ticking for shooting patches, five balls, two flints wrapped in leather, and a turn screw of a type typically used with muskets.  A turn screw would not have normally been found in an original hunting pouch as a longhunter would most likely have used their knife to turn the screws on their gun. However, being a gunsmith, I just can’t bring myself to risk tearing up my screw heads like that. All that said, this bag is plenty big for the listed items. I hang a pan brush, vent pick, and powder measure from either the pouch strap or powder horn hanger.  I made those from recycled tin plated steel from a cookie tin. I have attached small knife to the back of the pouch to use as a patch knife. The period longhunters would most likely have just carried a store bought butcher knife in their belt.  This is certainly all you need for a day of hunting and more than you need to carry to the line when shooting at the range.

Shown below are four more pouch and horn outfits very similar to the bag shown above.   They are of the same basic design with different tooling. The bottom two outfits have a different type of early Virginia horn. Horn #21 was made to the client’s specification and is not based on a particular original. They all have a welted flap just like the original, and I am currently making all these style bags that way.

Please note that I no longer hang the powder horn as high as shown on the bags shown on this page.    I have found that the outfit works better if you hang the horn below the flap button so that you can open the flap without moving the horn out of the way.    I will, of course, hang the horn where you want with the hangers as long (or short) as you want.    I  have made the hangers all lengths but tend to think about 8″ is long enough.   You can just tip the horn up to pour the powder.    When you place an order for this outfit,  I will ask for your input on the length of the hangers and where you want the horn hung.

Bag #17, Horn #16
Bag #17, Horn #16; This bag is tooled with the initials of the owner.
Bag #18, Horn #17 with Sun, Moon & Stars motif.
Bag #18, Horn #17 with Sun, Moon & Stars motif.
Pouch #20 with Horn #20 - Early VA style shot pouch with an early VA style powder horn with a turned antler tip and turned base plug
Pouch #20 with Horn #20 – Early VA style shot pouch with an early VA style powder horn with a turned antler tip and turned base plug
Bag #21, Horn #21, with just flap tooling and a completely custom powder
Bag #21, Horn #21, with just flap tooling and a powder horn with a screw-tip and a turned base plug with a band .

You can obtain your very own pouch and horn outfit like the ones shown above for the following prices:

  • Plain Early Virginia Shot Pouch (as shown above but without tooling) – $140 plus shipping
  • Powder Horn Hangers for Early Virginia Shot Pouch – $20 (Option with a pouch order)
  • Decorative Tooling on Early Virginia Shot Pouch – $20 (Option with a pouch order)
  • Leather knife sheath for customer provided knife – $35 (Option with a pouch order – customer must provide knife)
  • Virginia Banded, Screw-tip Powder Horn – $200 plus shipping
  • Virginia applied tip Powder Horn – $175 plus shipping
  • Tin Powder Measure, Brush and Pick set – $50

Priority shipping and insurance on a single item is $15. Shipping on an outfit is $20. I will collect VA Sales Tax for items shipping to VA residents.

To order a pouch or horn like the ones shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

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Plain Southern Powder Horns

The vast majority of original powder horns were as plain as they could be and still be functional. That means a flat pine (or other softwood) base plug and little or no carving of the throat; just enough work to contain powder and attach a strap. Many times a screw was used to attach a strap to the base plug. A grooved or simply reduced throat is enough to tie a strap around it. The two powder horns shown just below are based on an original southwest Virginia horn and are a little fancier than most with a turned base plug and carved rings at the throat. Even so, it is still much plainer than the carved and engraved horns from the French and Indian War. This horn could also be made with a turned and applied collar instead of the integral rings. The horn would dictate how it is approached.

Horn #7 - Side
Horn #7 – A SW. VA style powder horn
Horn #19 - A SW. VA horn in the basic style of Horn #7.
Horn #19 – A SW. VA horn in the basic style of Horn #7.

Please note the raw linen cord used to attach the horn in the photo below.   Cord was often found on southern outfits.    The outfit show below is much more historically correct for a southern mountain rifle than many of the sophisticated shot pouches and powder horns being recreated today.    Most of the original powder horns and shot pouches were very simple affairs, well worn and patched together.   You will see horns completely covered in leather to patch a hole or holes rather than just throw it away.   Even something as simple as a plain powder horn could not be easily replaced in the southern mountains and was highly valued.

I will make any plain powder horn with a flat base plug and simply carved throat and spout for $105 plus shipping. A horn like #7 with a turned, flat or domed base plug and carved rings would cost $150 plus shipping.

To order a powder horn or discuss any other project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

Horn #3 - Bag #8 - A plain southern powder horn attached by linen cord to a Southern heart shaped shot pouch laying on a flat surface.
Horn #3 – Plain southern powder horn, Bag #8 – Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch
Horn #4 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 3/4" outside curve, 2 1/2" dia. base plug
Horn #4 – Plain southern powder horn, 10 3/4″ outside curve, 2 1/2″ dia. base plug
Horn #4 - Top of plain southern powder horn with a wedding ring carved at the end of a bell shaped tip.
Horn #4 – Top – Plain southern powder horn
Horn #8 - Top of a plain southern powder horn wiht a large wedding band carved a the beginning of a bell shaped tip just above the throat.
Horn #8 – Top – Plain southern powder horn
Horn #8 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 1/4" outside curve, 2 3/8" dia. base plug
Horn #8 – Plain southern powder horn, 10 1/4″ outside curve, 2 3/8″ dia. base plug
Plain southern powder horn with octagonal shaped tip.
Horn #9 – Plain Southern Powder Horn, 11″ outside curve, 2 1/2″ dia. base plug
Top view of plain southern powder horn with an octacgonal tip.
Horn #9 – Top – Plain southern powder horn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right or Left Hand Carry Powder Horns?

There are both right hand and left hand powder horns shown above.   The question is what does that mean.   It refers to the side on which you carry the horn.   The tip always points forward and should wrap around your body.    In other words, the tip should not jut out so that it can catch on a passing object.

Technically,  a curve of the tip to the left as viewed from the top is a right hand carry horn and also from the right side of the cow.   A curve of the tip to the right would technically be a left hand carry horn and from the left side of the cow.   If there is no significant curve of the horn as viewed from the top, then the horn can be easily worn on either side.   Most horns have so little curve it really doesn’t matter.

Sometimes a horn that is technically a left hand horn might wrap around the body better on the right hand side and vice versa.    So,  in describing a horn for sale,  I will tell you whether a horn is technically a left hand or a right hand.  Then I will tell you on which side the horn was built to be carried,  if it is different.    I will also try to include a photo from the top of the horn so you can see the curve for yourself.     On which side you actually carry a horn, that is up to you.

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18th Century Style Mens’ Pocketbook

Mens 18th C fraktur tooled pocketbook

Not too long ago, my osteopath told me I needed to take my overstuffed wallet out of my back pocket and ditch it. It was pretty ratty anyway; almost worn through in places. I shopped around for a replacement but just couldn’t find anything just right. I needed to carry my drivers license, registration, proof of insurance, disabled parking card, and medical insurance card as well as some cash, at least one debit card, and a couple grocery discount cards. That was about as much as I could slim down. I had about three times that much stuff in the old wallet, not including the receipts, notes, and other paperwork. It was basically a traveling file cabinet. What I finally decided to do was design a little 18th century style mens’ pocketbook based on the construction of my early VA shot pouch and several original cloth pocketbooks that I had seen.

Fraktur tooling on 18thC men's pocketbookShown here is the result of my efforts. It is still a little overstuffed, but better than what I had. It is made out of goat skin (any new one would probably have to be calf skin), consisting of two sets of pockets flat sewn with a center divider serving as the welt for each set. The pockets fold like the pages of a book with a flap closure.

 

Fraktur tooling on 18thC men's pocketbook

Fraktur tooling on 18thC men's pocketbook

Fraktur tooling on 18thC men's pocketbookI tooled every exposed surface. The outside is decorated with typically English stamped geometric designs consisting mainly of diagonal lines and stamped stars. The inside panels are tooled with fraktur designs. The stain is vinegar and iron.

If anybody would like one, I will make one with stamped decoration on the exterior panels for $120. If you want original fraktur tooling on the interior panels, that will cost you $180.  I will make a wallet with a single set of pockets for $80.  I will have to add 5.3% sales tax for VA residents. Shipping is $15.

Download the pattern here if you would like to make the pocketbook yourself.

 

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Late Flint Virginia Shot Pouch & Powder Horn

Late Flint VA Shot Pouch & Powder Horn
Pouch #16, Horn #14 – Late Flint VA Shot Pouch & VA Banded, Screw-tip Powder Horn

I just finished this shot pouch and powder horn for a Virginian headed south to the Texas fight for independence. It represents late flint pouch from the central Valley of Virginia, and is based on an example from Rockingham Co, VA as documented by Madison Grant in his book on hunting pouches. The horn is my standard Virginia, single banded, screw-tip powder horn.

This pouch is three piece design of calf skin consisting of a back, front, and flap. The back and flap are connected by a separate panel that is perforated at the top for the straps which are sewn inside. The pouch is not lined, as most original pouches were not, but it does include a small hanging pocket suitable for balls or lunch money (according to my mother ;)). The bag is gusseted to increase the capacity; and all seams are welted which improves longevity. The flap and inside edge of the front panel are bound in goat skin. All my leather work is hand sewn with a saddle stitch using waxed linen thread. The leather strap is 1″ wide and is adjusted with an iron buckle. There is also a leather keeper to keep the strap end neat. The pouch is stained with a vinegar and iron solution which results in a dark brown to blue/black color through the leather. This is a chemical stain; not a pigment. It will not wash out. The outside and part of the interior of the pouch is rubbed with Mink Oil and then brushed to protect the leather.

During the construction process, the leather and the finished pouch was distressed giving it a well broken in appearance. Almost all my work is slightly aged. Hopefully, those of you who are re-enactors will not be accused of being farb on my account.

Click and drag your mouse cursor horizontally across the image to spin the powder horn below. You can use you mouse wheel (scroll) to zoom in and out. You must zoom all the way out in order to spin the horn.
You can obtain your very own pouch and horn outfit like the ones shown above for the following prices:

  • Late Flint Virginia Shot Pouch (as shown above) – $275 plus shipping
  • Powder Horn Hangers for Late Flint Virginia Shot Pouch – $15(Option with a pouch order)
  • Add Decorative Tooling on the flap and front panel – $20(Option with a pouch order)
  • Virginia Banded Screw-tip Powder Horn – $200 plus shipping

Shipping on a single item is $15. Shipping on an outfit is $20. I will collect VA Sales Tax for items shipping to VA residents.

 

To order a pouch or horn like the ones shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work.

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Late Colonial Powder Horn

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This powder horn was made from a raw horn in a late colonial style. I scraped it down, carved and filed the spout in the traditional manner. The plain domed base plug was carved from pine and held in place with wooden pegs. I turned the stopper from a scrap piece of curly maple. The stopper was stained with aqua fortis, and the aqua fortis was used to age the horn giving it the golden yellow color. Just like with staining wood, you have to apply heat to the horn to activate the aqua fortis and get that nice yellow color. The spout was dyed with dark brown Rit dye. Walnut hulls would probably have been used originally and I intend to switch to natural dyes in the future. The schrimsaw is not a copy of anything in particular, but something to my liking using period motifs. The strap is from Shayna L. Matthews ( www.fiberwoodart.com ). I like her work quite a bit and have bought several straps from her.

If you are interested in a powder horn like this, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. If you want me to make you a new horn similar to this one with YOUR name on it, it will cost you $375 (plus shipping and applicable sales tax). See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work.

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Tin Powder Measure Set

This is a powder measure set that I created for Bag #12. It consists of a tin-plated steel powder measure, pan brush and vent pick.  The pan brush is horse hair with a tin ferrule and the vent pick is made of music wire.   Three flats are ground on the end of the vent pick to use in scraping out the touch hole. I can make you a powder measure set like this for $50 plus $8 for shipping. I will make just a measure for $25 plus $8 shipping.

If you are interested in this pan brush and powder measure set or one like it, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work.

Tin powder measure, pan brush, and pick

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