1799 DATED PENNSYLVANIA CARVED POWDER HORN

$3,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 909-184

This horn dates right in the Golden Age of the Pennsylvania rifle, but in contrast to the high-art, Rococo elements of that quintessentially American firearm, displays traditional Pennsylvania German decorative elements on an accouterment meant to serve it. It is in great condition, with no insect damage or chipping.  Overall the horn measures 15 ½” in length. The two principle panels of the horn are defined by saw-tooth borders that also form the edges to two rectangular bands running lengthwise. One of these bands is filled diamonds of nine dots, each set within a border line. In the other band the owner’s name and date of the horn are spelled out, with open diamonds of nine dots separating the first and last name of the owner, and the month, with the day and year separated by a line of three dots and the panel terminated with an open diamond of four dots: “Henrich * Keller * May * the 27 / 1799 *”

At the upper end of the horn, below the turned and facetted spout, the panels have the same carved saw-tooth border, above which a band of diamonds, done in outline with darker diamonds inside, picks up both the saw-tooth and diamond shapes, which are after all, two triangles or saw teeth joined. The lower end of the panels and the horn as a whole is bordered by an applied brass band, tacked in place, and having a saw-tooth upper edge.

The two main panels are decorated with quintessentially Pennsylvania German motifs: tulips, scrolling flower stems, rounded leaves or opened bulbs with jagged interior edges, and flowers with rounded petals or petals in the form of an eight-pointed star, all with cross-hatching and arising from a heart-shaped bulb at the base of the horn near the brass band.

The horn has the remains of a woven carrying cord with tassels. The small wood molds over which a knot would have been woven are present, but exterior fabric is not. Enough of the color remains on the cord and tassels to show that it was likely crimson, though now faded to a purple. The cord is tied around the spout and on the base plug passes through an iron staple. Below the staple is tacked in place an inset brass flanged disk bearing a crowned Prussian eagle with the cypher “FR” on its chest. While a contrast to the peaceable floral motifs on the horn, the use of an eagle to express strength and courage is common in Pennsylvania German imagery. Here, of course, it might be a reminder of the owner’s heritage, but the presence of a predator on a hunting horn is appropriate.  [sr]

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