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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Skidmore, Joseph
Title:powder horn: Joseph Scidmore
Date Made:September 1791
Materials:horn; wood; base metal
Place Made:United States; Northeast
Measurements:Overall: 7 1/8 in x 2 3/8 in x 2 1/2 in; 18.1 cm x 6 cm x 6.4 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2019.13
Credit Line:Gift of Jack and Janice Marino

Powder horns and flasks have been in use since the early 15th century to carry the black powder necessary in the use of firearms. Whether made from ox or cow horns or from wood and iron, power horns and flasks had to not only hold black powder, but to keep the powder dry. Every powder horn’s design and style was unique. Some were ornately decorated while others were plain without markings. Used to carry gunpowder, this diminutive sized powder horn, or priming horn, would have fit conveniently into a soldier or hunter’s haversack or bag. Its small size would have allowed the user to pour a controlled amount of black powder into the pan on the lock of a musket or pistol, thereby preparing the gun to fire. While a number of these engraved American powder horns survive and date to the middle of the 18th century, this horn, inscribed "BY JOSEPH SCIDMORES HORN MADE SEPT 1791," illustrates just how late horn carving of this sort took place. The horn’s inscription is also significant in that it provides the name of another powder horn carver: Joseph Scidmore. His identity is currently unknown. Small powder horn, the spout end has no surviving plug, about half of the horn has been partially removed creating a darker section and a lighter section which is engraved, the engraving consists of a heart, within is the inscription, "BY JOSEPH SCIDMORES HORN MADE SEPT/ 1791", the base of the horn is engraved with sailing ships of many sizes, on the reverse of the horn are engravings of a flower with a heart base and many scrolling leaves, one of the leaves has a small bird perched, many of the designs are cross hatched, the plug is made out of wood with a metal ring for removal.

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