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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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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