Virginia Applied Tip Powder Horns

Applied tip powder horns, as the name implies, have turned horn, antler, or bone tips that either screw onto or are pinned to the powder horn body.  These are professionally made horns that had turned butt plugs as well, and sometimes turned horn bands. Screw-tip powder horns were made as early as the French and Indian War in Philadelphia and spread west into Pennsylvania and south into Virginia and North Carolina.   The best supported explanation for the purpose of screw-tip powder horns, as presented by Art DeCamp, is that the turned screw-tips (and other applied tips ) allowed for the mass production of powder horns where each step of the manufacturing process could be handled by one person.    Turned horn bands and turned wood base plugs served the same purpose.   By turning all these parts,  a fancy powder horn could be made quickly by professional horners.

I performed all the steps myself for the screw-tip powder horns displayed below.   Each is an example of a Virginia screw-tip powder horn.   The single turned band is the defining feature of a Virginia powder horn.   The shape of the base plug is characteristic of powder horns from the middle portion of the Valley of Virginia.   As with most southern screw-tip powder horns, the screw-tips on the powder horns below have an internal thread.   The powder horn bodies have an external thread.  Both these horns have turned walnut stoppers.   Both screw-tips are dyed to match the base plugs and stoppers   The band on Horn #5 below is also dyed horn.   The base plug on Horn #5 is maple stained with aqua fortis.   The base plug on Horn #6 is walnut.   Both powder horns are stained with aqua fortis and aged.

I will make any banded, screw-tip powder horn, with a turned base plug like the ones shown here for $200 plus shipping. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work.

Horn #5 - Outside curve of small Virginia screw-tip powder horn with single band.
Horn #5 – 13 1/2″ outside curve , 2 1/4″ dia. base plug
Horn #5 - Top of small Virginia screw-tip powder horn with band.
Horn #5 – Top
top of single banded, screw-tip powder horn
Horn #6 – Top
Side view of single banded, screw-tip powder horn
Horn #6 – 15″ outside curve , 2 3/4″ dia. base plug
 Horn #26 - A slightly smaller version of Horn #6 - 15" around the outside curve, 2 3/8" dia. base plug
Horn #26 – A slightly smaller version of Horn #6 – 15″ around the outside curve, 2 3/8″ dia. base plug
Horn #21 - A slightly different banded, screw-tip horn - 14 1/2" outside curve, 2 3/8" base plug
Horn #21 – A slightly different banded, screw-tip horn – 14 1/2″ outside curve, 2 3/8″ dia. base plug

 

Below is another kind of applied tip powder horn. This one is based on an early Virginia horn documented in Jay Hopkins book;
Bone Tipped & Banded Horns, Vol 1; pp. 138-9. This horn has a pinned turned antler tip. The butt plug and stopper are turned curly maple. The wood, horn, and antler were stained with aqua fortis (iron nitrate). The butt plug and tip were pinned with steel (iron on the original) wire pins.

Horn #20 - 16" outside curve, 13" tip to tip, 2.5&quot dia. butt plug
Horn #20 – 16″ outside curve, 13″ tip to tip, 2 1/2″ dia. butt plug

I will make a similar pinned tip horn with a turned base plug for $175 plus shipping. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work.

If I can make a powder horn for you, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

Right or Left Hand Carry for Powder Horns?

What is right or left hand carry?  Simply, it is the side of the body on which a horn is intended to be worn.  Historically,  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 historically  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 with no conflict.   Most horns have so little curve it really doesn’t matter much and the modern pattern of carry is frequently opposite of the historical pattern.

Carrying a horn on the same side of the body as it came from the cow results in the tip pointing toward the body and the base pointing away from the body.   I also like the base of the horn to point toward the body, as do many modern wearers, so I usually use the opposite side horn and rotate it about 90 degrees so that both the tip and the base of the horn point into the body.    This makes a horn from the left side of the cow into a powder horn you can carry on the right side of the body.     This is my personal preference, but not generally historically correct.  Historically,  powder horns were usually carried on the same side of the body as they came from on the cow.   If you want to be completely historically correct,  you need to understand that.

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,  I will tell you whether a horn is historically 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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John Davidson Rifle

AH Davidson - Full Right


Shown here is a previously unpublished John Davidson longrifle. It was made for a farmer in Rockbridge county Virginia and is still in the family. While the rifle is the victim of a very poor restoration job many years ago, there is still considerable artistic merit to the gun.

The longrifle is mostly intact. The original nose piece is missing as is the trigger guard. The guard on the rifle now does not belong by any stretch of the imagination. It was just stuck on there so there would be a guard. Missing wood in the forearm and around the lock and tang was replaced with body putty, but the thimbles appear to be original as does the lock plate with a period conversion from flint to percussion. The best part of the longrifle is the butt stock. It has a typical John Davidson patchbox with some great engraving, and some unique floral cheek side carving.

Rather than further describe the longrifle, I will let the photographs speak for themselves. I do have to beg your indulgence for any deficiencies in the photographs. They were, by necessity, taken at the owners house, outside, on a sunny, windy day, in the partial shade of a large tree. It is amazing they turned out as well as they did.

PDF Data Sheet for John Davidson Rifle

Excel Data Sheet for John Davidson Rifle


John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Full Left

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Full Top

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Full Bottom

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Half Right

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Half Left

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Half Top

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Half Bottom

John Davidson Virginia longrifle - Lock

AH Davidson rifle - Tang

AH Davidson rifle - Rear Thimble

AH Davison rifle - Patchbox

AH Davidson rifle - Cheek



Photos are Copyright 2011 Mark E. Elliott, All Rights Reserved, published with the permission of the owner. Please do not duplicate without permission.


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Wm. Britton Rifle

Wm. Britton - Half Right showing fancy pierced brass patchbox.Shown here is an original rifle attributed to William Britton of Hampshire County, West Virginia.   It is published on page 64 of Gunsmiths of West Virginia by Lambert and Whisker.    This rifle has been re-converted from percussion to flint.   The Maslin lock shown is not original to the gun and is poorly fitted in the lock mortise.  The forearm has been replaced forward of the rear thimble.   Otherwise, everything else appears to be original.  The best features of the rifle are the incised carving in the wrist and buttstock and the engraving of the side plate, toe plate and patchbox.

  • Overall Length:  61″
  • Barrel Length:  46″
  • Caliber: 50

Wm. Britton - Half LeftWm. Britton - Half TopWm. Britton - Half BottomWm. Britton - Lock - a Maslin lock that is obviously a replacement - it doesn't fit the lock mortice.Wm. Britton - Side PlateWm. Britton - Tang - spear shaped with simple incised carving around it.Wm. Britton - Trigger GuardWm. Britton - Toe - showing a rectangular patchbox release button in the toe plate.Wm. Britton - Patchbox - a fancy, four-piece, pierced brass box with a stylized adelweiss flower in the finial and extensive engraving.Wm. Britton - Cheek - showing simple incised carving typical of the Winchester, VA area.

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