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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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Colt's Patent Brass Powder Flask
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Colt's Patent Brass Powder Flask
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$754 Bids
BLACK FOREST CARVED ANTLER POWDER FLASK
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
BLACK FOREST CARVED ANTLER POWDER FLASK
by John McInnis Auctioneers
Est: $200- $400
$1502 Bids
Group of 3 Powder Horns and More
Feb 24, 9:00 AM CST
Group of 3 Powder Horns and More
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$152 Bids
COPPER POWDER FLASK
Feb 29, 9:00 AM EST
COPPER POWDER FLASK
by Fairhill Auction LLC
Est: $80- $140
$401 Bid
VINTAGE GUN POWDER HORN FLASK LOT OF 6
Feb 28, 9:00 AM EST
VINTAGE GUN POWDER HORN FLASK LOT OF 6
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $100- $200
$301 Bid
Various Vintage Artists’ Powders
Feb 22, 9:00 AM EST
Various Vintage Artists’ Powders
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
MUGHAL NAUTILUS SHELL AND MOTHER-OF-PEARL GUNPOWDER FLASK, BARUTDAN
Feb 22, 10:00 AM GMT
MUGHAL NAUTILUS SHELL AND MOTHER-OF-PEARL GUNPOWDER FLASK, BARUTDAN
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £300- £500
£2401 Bid
LOT OF 5 VINTAGE GUN POWDER HORN FLASKS
Feb 28, 9:00 AM EST
LOT OF 5 VINTAGE GUN POWDER HORN FLASKS
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $80- $150
$201 Bid
VINTAGE COPPER GUNPOWDER FLASK WITH EMBOSSED MILITARY MARKINGS
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
VINTAGE COPPER GUNPOWDER FLASK WITH EMBOSSED MILITARY MARKINGS
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $40- $80
$201 Bid
GUNPOWDER HORN
Feb 29, 9:00 AM EST
GUNPOWDER HORN
by Fairhill Auction LLC
Est: $40- $80
$201 Bid
A pressed horn and brass-mounted powder flask,
Feb 22, 10:00 AM GMT
A pressed horn and brass-mounted powder flask,
by Sworders
Est: £150- £250
£1200 Bids
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3 pieces - powder antique gunpowder translucent horn
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
3 pieces - powder antique gunpowder translucent horn
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $250- $500
$900 Bids
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Antique small gunpowder horn, 102 g, 1750 - 1850 AD
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique small gunpowder horn, 102 g, 1750 - 1850 AD
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $300- $600
$900 Bids
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SYKES PATENT, antique brass & leather gunpowder horn, 19th century
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
SYKES PATENT, antique brass & leather gunpowder horn, 19th century
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $300- $600
$900 Bids
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Antique huge gunpowder horn with copper enforcement belts, 540 g, 63 cm
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique huge gunpowder horn with copper enforcement belts, 540 g, 63 cm
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $600- $1,200
$1800 Bids
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Antique small gunpowder translucent tan black horn, flint primer, 77 g
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique small gunpowder translucent tan black horn, flint primer, 77 g
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $250- $500
$900 Bids
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Antique gunpowder horn with a horn scoop & wooden cork
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique gunpowder horn with a horn scoop & wooden cork
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $300- $600
$800 Bids
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Antique small 26 g gunpowder horn
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique small 26 g gunpowder horn
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$800 Bids
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Antique long gunpowder horn, 171 g
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique long gunpowder horn, 171 g
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $400- $800
$900 Bids
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Antique small 53 g, gunpowder horn
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique small 53 g, gunpowder horn
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$800 Bids
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Antique, gunpowder horn, 272 g
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique, gunpowder horn, 272 g
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$900 Bids
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Antique gunpowder horn, 213 g
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique gunpowder horn, 213 g
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $160- $320
$800 Bids
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Antique pre-Civil war period, 1848, small gunpowder horn, 90 g
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
Antique pre-Civil war period, 1848, small gunpowder horn, 90 g
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $400- $800
$1800 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Powder Horns


Eternity Gallery

Eternity Gallery

Homestead Auctions

Homestead Auctions

Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven