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Powder Horns

Once a critical tool on frontiers and battlefields, the powder horn has become an informative resource for early military and civilian history, particularly that of North America. Aside of details about genealogy and location, powder horns offer a glimpse of human hardship, beauty, and hope.

Early powder horns date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, making appearances in King George’s War and the French and Indian Wars. Used to hold black gunpowder, the horns were air and water tight, durable, and non-sparking, important criteria for soldiers of the time period. Using a horn from a cow, buffalo, or ox, the piece was first boiled in water and scraped smooth. Each end was then fitted with wooden plugs, and holes were drilled at the wide end in order to insert a carry strap. Finally, the powder horn was engraved, some featuring a simple name and date, others an elaborate scene or map. Although horns were often engraved by owners themselves, some were fashioned by master carvers such as Jacob Gay and John Bush.

Powder horn values range widely depending on condition, type of carving, and market conditions. A simple piece containing a name and date could be worth a few thousand dollars, while intricate examples with historical engravings have been valued at $30,000 or more.


Quick Facts

  • Powder flasks have the same utility as powder horns, but are instead made of wood, ivory, or non-ferrous metal. Many were manufactured commercially in the 17th and 18th centuries before the advent of self-contained gun cartridges
  • A powder horn once owned by Captain Abraham Perry during the French and Indian War sold for $25,000 at a 2015 Freeman’s auction
  • Scrimshaw powder horns were highly detailed pieces made using chisels and awls. After placing patterns on horns, carvers would cut, polish, and color them

Recommended Items at Auction

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A CONTINENTAL BONE SCRIMSHAWED POWDER-FLASK OF LARGE SIZE,
Nov 21, 10:00 AM GMT
A CONTINENTAL BONE SCRIMSHAWED POWDER-FLASK OF LARGE SIZE,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £300- £500
£5508 Bids
Antique Scrimshaw 1830 Powder Horn
Nov 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Scrimshaw 1830 Powder Horn
by Paul Arsenault Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$2505 Bids
Antique Scrimshaw Powder Horn
Nov 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Scrimshaw Powder Horn
by Paul Arsenault Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$1755 Bids
Three Powder Flasks
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Three Powder Flasks
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$504 Bids
Seven Powder Flasks
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Seven Powder Flasks
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$703 Bids
Three Powder Flasks
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Three Powder Flasks
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$302 Bids
A group of six powder horns and flasks, 19th century
Oct 13, 9:00 AM EDT
A group of six powder horns and flasks, 19th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $300- $400
$2252 Bids
(2) Powder Horns
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
(2) Powder Horns
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$602 Bids
Two Large Powder Flasks
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Two Large Powder Flasks
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
Metal Powder Flask with Birds
Oct 15, 9:00 AM CDT
Metal Powder Flask with Birds
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
(4) Nice Powder Horns
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
(4) Nice Powder Horns
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
(3) Old Powder Horns
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
(3) Old Powder Horns
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
Ornate Powder Horn
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
Ornate Powder Horn
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
(2) Powder Horns with eccentric tops
Oct 08, 10:00 AM EDT
(2) Powder Horns with eccentric tops
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
2-Dupont Gunpowder Cans Eagle & FF
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
2-Dupont Gunpowder Cans Eagle & FF
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $10,000
$1001 Bid
A SCARCE HORN POWDER-FLASK FOR A VOLUNTEER BAKER FLINTLOCK RIFLE, muster no. G47,
Nov 21, 10:00 AM GMT
A SCARCE HORN POWDER-FLASK FOR A VOLUNTEER BAKER FLINTLOCK RIFLE, muster no. G47,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £200- £300
£2001 Bid
Pulverflasche mit Treibjagdszenen, J. F. Götze, Hohenlimburg, 18. Jhdt
Oct 08, 9:00 AM CEST
Pulverflasche mit Treibjagdszenen, J. F. Götze, Hohenlimburg, 18. Jhdt
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €900- €1,800
€9000 Bids
Pulverhorn 19. Jh.
Oct 08, 10:00 AM CEST
Pulverhorn 19. Jh.
by Leo Spik
Est: €70- €84
€500 Bids
1830's Hunting Powder Flask
Nov 05, 2:00 PM EDT
1830's Hunting Powder Flask
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $100- $200
$750 Bids
Large Ornate19thc Copper & Brass Powder Flask
Nov 05, 2:00 PM EDT
Large Ornate19thc Copper & Brass Powder Flask
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $100- $200
$750 Bids
Gunpowder flask
Oct 14, 3:00 PM UYT
Gunpowder flask
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $70- $100
$600 Bids
Gunpowder flask
Oct 14, 3:00 PM UYT
Gunpowder flask
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $80- $120
$700 Bids
Brass Ornate Powder Flask
Oct 15, 9:00 AM CDT
Brass Ornate Powder Flask
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$150 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Powder Horns


Hermann Historica GmbH

Hermann Historica GmbH

Sofe Design Auctions

Sofe Design Auctions

Terri Peters & Associates

Terri Peters & Associates