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19TH CENTURY FRONTIER RIFLEMAN’S SHOULDER POUCH AND POWDER HORN – ORIGINAL SET AS FOUND – HAS A GREAT LOOK  FOR DISPLAY WITH ANY MUZZLELOADING RIFLE, MUSKET OR TRADE GUN USED ON THE FRONTIER – VERY NICE SPECIMEN:  Dating from the period of Western expansion as the restless settlers ventured forth in the early 1800’s from the Eastern Seaboard and over the Allegheny Mountains, and in later decades as their sons and grandsons explored the wild lands west of the Mississippi River, this handmade Shoulder Pouch and Powder Horn has for all appearances survived intact as an original set.   

The very simple one piece pouch is fashioned of what appears to be native or hand tanned leather which I suspect is deer, elk or antelope hide.  Measuring 7” wide and 7” high, the pouch is constructed from a single strip of hide which was folded over to form the flap which covers almost the entire pouch, and then stitched along both sides to form the body of the pouch.  The strap is a piece of heavy bridle leather likely salvaged from a piece of draft animal harness and it is attached to the upper rear corners of the pouch with heavy stitches.  The flap is held close with a hand fashioned leather button, formed by rolling a strip of leather back on itself and feeding the resulting knot through a slit in the strip.  The button engages a simple slit in the center of the bottom edge of the flap.   

The pouch and strap are in very good condition, showing only very minimal – and expected - evidence of aging.  The leather of both pieces is supple without any hardening or weak points, and the surfaces are overall smooth with no crazing or flaking.  The lower reach of the flap closure slit at the lower edge of the flap has separated with time and wear and was restored with the application of a small piece of leather glued to the reverse of the flap.  This is an adequate repair, but it could be improved upon if the new owner decided to do so.  As it is, it does not detract from the appearance of the pouch.   

The horn, suspended from the strap by old leather thongs, measures 9” along the outside of the curve (not including the plugs), and the base plug measures 2 Ό” by 2”.  The surface of the horn is naturally polished from being handled and carried for many years, and it has a nicely aged patina, definitely having the feel of an old horn.  The horn was scraped to reduce the thickness of the horn wall which not only reduced unnecessary weight, but made the horn translucent so the shooter could hold his horn up to sunlight and check the amount of powder remaining in the horn.  The base plug is hand fitted and secured with what appears to be iron pins, and the wood shows wear and has a feel commensurate with the wear on the horn.  The plug at the spout end is hand carved and from all appearances, is original to the horn.  Overall, the horn is very solid and has a wonderful appearance.   

There are additional leather thongs attached to, and hanging from, the carrying strap which probably held the various tools and implements the original owner used to load and maintain his rifle – items such as a bullet starter, a bullet block holding pre-patched balls, a priming horn for a flintlock or a capper for a percussion, and a vent or cone pick.   

The leather accoutrements carried by civilians and dating from the earliest days of our Nation had several factors working against their survival in order to be available to modern collectors.  At the risk of stating the obvious, by virtue of the fact they were the first accoutrements of their kind carried in North America, they have had to survive as much as 200 plus years of wear and tear and they have been subject to less than ideal storage.  Those that were not used to destruction or disposed of as no longer necessary, and survived to be forgotten hanging on a peg in a barn or shed, there was no structured surplus system that facilitated the survival and marketing of the wide range of antique military accoutrements available today.  Civilian accoutrements were produced on small farms or at the fireside along the immigrant trails and there was no record of their manufacture or their makers.  Like so many of the other trappings carried or worn by the civilian frontiersman, these pouches and horns were only of value for as long as they were needed.  When the guns these sets serviced were replaced by breech loading, fixed cartridge arms, these pouches and horns were cast off and succumbed to the passage of time, leaving relatively the few that exist today in public and old established private collections.     

It is very unusual for one of these sets to appear on the market, especially in such respectable condition, and this scarce and very collectable early Shoulder Pouch and Powder Horn Set will make an significant addition to even an advanced accoutrement collection and it would display very nicely with an early American long gun.  (0825)  $850     



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