BRITISH BOARD OF ORDNANCE MARKED POWDER HORN

$650.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 401-41

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This is a classic British military issue powder horn made from cow’s horn with the wide end closed by a turned oak plug held in place with small tacks and fitted with a threaded oak stopper in the form of a handle to permit refilling. The narrow end is fitted with a conical, incised, sheet-brass dispenser (charger) fitted with a brass L-shaped lever and steel spring. Two small eyelets are screwed into the body of the horn for a suspension cord. The body of the horn is branded with a small broad arrow and “BO” for “Board of Ordnance.”

The largest user of these horns was the British navy, where they served to prime the vents or gunlocks of shipboard artillery. An identical example captured from HMS Guerriere by the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) in 1812 is illustrated by Gilkerson (2.73.) The same pattern seems to have been used earlier by land forces also, not only as priming horns for artillery, but for musket powder for light infantry, provincial and militia troops. Size is sometimes taken as determining who used it, but it is worth noting the Guerriere horn fits the “intermediate” category also appropriate for infantry. We have not seen firm cut-off dates for the markings, “BO” rather than “GR” or the later “WD,” but they likely point us back to the Napoleonic and War of 1812 period, in which case shipboard use is most likely since in 1790s the board restricted its supply of horns to the navy only. (Bailey, Small Arms, 263.)

This is in excellent condition, with no worm or insect damage to the horn or wood, and nice color. The base and plug are firmly in place and have nice surface and color. The suspension loops are present, as is the spout, which is complete and functional. It could be used to illustrate the type of horn used as early as the French and Indian War, but would make a great addition to a War of 1812 naval collection and not a few must have made their way into American hands from captured British vessels. The performance of the U.S. Navy was one of the few bright spots during the war.  [sr] [ph:m/L]

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