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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17th Century Continental Horn Powder Flask
Oct 23, 9:00 AM EDT
17th Century Continental Horn Powder Flask
by Case Antiques, Inc. Auctions & Appraisals
Est: $600- $700
$6509 Bids
11 pieces of vintage Moorcroft powder blue vase 15 cm. (5.91 in.)
Oct 18, 7:00 PM AEDT
11 pieces of vintage Moorcroft powder blue vase 15 cm. (5.91 in.)
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD1106 Bids
2 Antique Powder Flasks
Oct 17, 10:00 AM EDT
2 Antique Powder Flasks
by Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $0- $0
$1005 Bids
The Joshua Knox Horn
Oct 23, 9:30 AM EDT
The Joshua Knox Horn
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$1254 Bids
Pair of Powder Horns and Bag
Oct 27, 11:00 AM EDT
Pair of Powder Horns and Bag
by Caza Sikes
Est: $100- $200
$1604 Bids
(5) Large Powder Horns and Metal Canteen
Oct 23, 9:30 AM EDT
(5) Large Powder Horns and Metal Canteen
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$603 Bids
LOT OF 3 VINTAGE POWDER HORNS W STRAP
Oct 28, 9:00 AM EDT
LOT OF 3 VINTAGE POWDER HORNS W STRAP
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $90- $140
$302 Bids
VINTAGE SCRIMSHAW POWDER HORN
Oct 17, 5:00 PM EDT
VINTAGE SCRIMSHAW POWDER HORN
by Puckett Auctions
Est: $250- $2,500
$602 Bids
Rumford Baking Powder Wooden Crate
Oct 23, 12:00 PM EDT
Rumford Baking Powder Wooden Crate
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $50- $75
$251 Bid
LARGE GROUP OF CARVED POWDER HORNS IN 18TH CENTURY
Nov 07, 10:00 AM EDT
LARGE GROUP OF CARVED POWDER HORNS IN 18TH CENTURY
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $700- $900
$3501 Bid
CIVIL WAR DISPATCH BAGS & POWDER HORNS
Oct 24, 3:00 PM PDT
CIVIL WAR DISPATCH BAGS & POWDER HORNS
by Midnight Sun Antique Auction
Est: $150- $250
$1001 Bid
(8) Leather Powder Horns and Shot Holders
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
(8) Leather Powder Horns and Shot Holders
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$1251 Bid
GROUP OF FOUR 18TH/19TH CENTURY POWDER HORNS.
Nov 07, 10:00 AM EDT
GROUP OF FOUR 18TH/19TH CENTURY POWDER HORNS.
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $600- $800
$3001 Bid
ANTIQUE AMERICAN POWDER HORN
Oct 24, 1:00 PM EDT
ANTIQUE AMERICAN POWDER HORN
by Charleston Estate Auctions
Est: $125- $175
$51 Bid
EARLY 19TH CENTURY SCRIMSHAWED POWDER HORN,
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
EARLY 19TH CENTURY SCRIMSHAWED POWDER HORN,
by Marion Antique Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$701 Bid
“JOHN DARBY” FRENCH & INDIAN WAR POLYCHROME NEW
Nov 07, 10:00 AM EDT
“JOHN DARBY” FRENCH & INDIAN WAR POLYCHROME NEW
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$2,0001 Bid
Pellet Powder Box
Oct 21, 10:00 AM CDT
Pellet Powder Box
by McCurley Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$11 Bid
(4) Small Powder Horns and Brass Flask
Oct 23, 9:30 AM EDT
(4) Small Powder Horns and Brass Flask
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$200 Bids
16th German powder pear decorated with engraved animal plaques Sizes: H=180mm L=140mm Weig
Oct 31, 10:00 AM CET
16th German powder pear decorated with engraved animal plaques Sizes: H=180mm L=140mm Weig
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €1,500- €2,000
€1,5000 Bids
Moroccan Powder Flask
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Moroccan Powder Flask
by Material Culture
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A GOOD 19TH CENTURY PERSIAN LEATHER POWDER FLASK, with embossed decoration of animals, 25cm
Oct 20, 10:30 AM BST
A GOOD 19TH CENTURY PERSIAN LEATHER POWDER FLASK, with embossed decoration of animals, 25cm
by John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
Est: £80- £120
£700 Bids
A CHINESE POWDER-BLUE PLAQUE, square, decorated to the roundel with a drago
Oct 23, 10:00 AM BST
A CHINESE POWDER-BLUE PLAQUE, square, decorated to the roundel with a drago
by Elstob and Elstob
Est: £600- £800
£3600 Bids
19thc Ornate Copper & Brass Powder Flask
Nov 13, 2:00 PM EST
19thc Ornate Copper & Brass Powder Flask
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $125- $250
$800 Bids
SILVER GILDED GEM INLAID POWDER BOX
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
SILVER GILDED GEM INLAID POWDER BOX
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$2,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Powder Horns


Poulin Antiques & Auctions

Poulin Antiques & Auctions

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.