FOLK ART POWDER HORN WITH WONDERFUL U.S. EAGLE BY C.J. AVINGER, LIKELY ORANGEBURG, S.C.

$2,800.00

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Item Code: 766-1755

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This powder horn shows old insect damage with losses to the horn and a missing plug, but has a very impressive American eagle carved on it, not affected by the losses, stretching out its wings over much of the center of the horn and following its natural curve. The spout with collar is in place and below it is a five-pointed cross-hatched star in a circle with cross-hatched tulips and long stems underneath, more of which appear at the wider base, which also has a rather heart or flower-shaped U.S. shield, balanced to a degree by a rather heart-shaped flower at the other end.

The eagle has a long and broad tail, and grasps arrows in one claw, and in the other the long stem of the flowers at the tip. The eagle’s feathers are detailed with cross-hatching and chevrons. Its head is surrounded by thirty-one six pointed stars made with cross cuts and staining. The artist has given it a banner scroll to hold in its beak that has forked ends and twists in the middle showing its edge as a simple line, which is a good touch, but then seems to have lost his train of thought and given it a rounded tip, only to realize he had wanted a forked tail on the other end as well and added a second, shorter banner to get it. Both elements are simply cross-hatched, with no attempt at the national motto. The forked ends come across slightly as snakes, but we think the intention was clear, if not the execution. Not only are the eagle’s feathers well delineated, the eagle bears a nicely rendered US shield on its chest, showing thirty-three stars, rendered as white dots, with the eagle has a whole colored with a thin yellow.

The owner, and certainly the carver as well, included his name in shaded letters, “C.J. Avinger.” One cannot rely too much on exact star counts around the eagle and on the shield on his chest, especially when they differ, but likely date the carving to the 1850s, which suits the style as well. An Avinger family genealogy yields a good candidate Calvin J. Avinger 1/6/1816 – 1/5/1865, of Orangeburg, South Carolina, who would have been 40 or so at the time. He was too old for regular service in the Civil War, but did serve to terms in the South Carolina state troops and ended was killed, accidentally, in the line of duty in early 1865.

“Calvin J. Avinger enlisted in Co. H, 11th Regt., South Carolina Reserves, C. S. A., on November 7, 1862, at Orangeburg, S. C., and served through December of that year. He enlisted a second time on August 1, 1868, in Co. C, 2d Regt. S. C. State Troops, and served until his death. He was buried in the cemetery near Parler, S. C., about five miles from Elloree, in what was once called “Baldrick’s Old Field.” On his tombstone is this inscription: ‘Calvin Avinger, son of Laurence and Susanah Av- inger; Born Jan. 6, 1816, and died Jan. 5, 1865. The deceased came to his untimely death while discharging the duty of a soldier in Columbia, S. C., by an accidental shot of a sentinel on post. He was respected by all for his brave conduct while in camp. He belonged to Capt. Moorer’s company of Reserves and did arduous duty in Charleston and Columbia guarding prisoners. Reader pause, reflecting, pass on.’ Mrs. Mary C. Avinger, wife of his brother William Avinger, was with him in Columbia at the time of his death. From the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D. C., March 4, 1948, the record shows C. J. Avinger, a private in Co. H, 11th Regiment South Carolina Reserves, ‘90 days (1862 to 1863), Confederate States Army, enlisted 7 Nov. 1862, at Orangeburg. The company muster roll for 7 November to 31 December, 1862, only roll-on file, shows him present. No other record of him had been found as a member of that organization.’ The records also show that C. J. Avinger was a private in Co. C, Second Regiment S. C. State Troops and present on muster roll of December 31 to February 2, 1864."

Our own reading of the rolls indicates that the 2nd SC State Troops was organized for six months’ service on Aug. 1, 1863. This would not get him to service in January 1865, but records indicate he had joined that unit from the 14th SC Militia, at least two of whose companies were from Orangeburg and his stated date of death, 1/5/65, corresponds to the date they were later called up for active duty. This was at Branchville, but they served at Columbia, cited as the location of his death. There is obviously some confusion in the records, but it seems a likely explanation.

Regardless of the maker’s biography, his carving has a good deal of charm and energy, and displays very well. [sr] [ph:m]

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