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Ivory powder horn with carved decoration

Created by
horn and wood
L x diameter x weight: 10 1/2 × 3 1/16 in., 152Grams (26.7 cm, 0.2 kg)
powder horns
18th century; engraved after 1861
A powder horn with scrimshaw decorations. The powder horn shaft is made from cow horn. On one side of the horn's base, there is an engraved illustration of a seated African American officer smoking a cigar inside a tent, guarded by a white soldier in a tattered uniform. The text underneath the image reads: [Negro officer / & / White Soldier]. On the reverse side of the powder horn is an engraving of an African American man dancing with a white woman. The African American man is wearing trousers but no shirt, and the woman is wearing a long-sleeved dress with her long hair pulled back into a bun. The text above the image reads: [New England Ladies / teaching Negroes]. These images are surrounded by decorative, architectural borders. Most engraved areas appear to have been colored with an iron-based substance, possibly iron gall ink, and the surface of the horn appears yellow, whether by age or artificial coloration. The circumference of the base has jagged edges, with some remaining peg holes through which pegs or nails would have been placed to secure the base, although none remain. A replacement circular wooden butt plug is glued into the base. The narrow end of the powder horn is carved, turned, and colored dark brown. Originally it would have been closed with a peg or stopper, now missing.
African American
American South
Race relations
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Marion T. Lane, Ed.D.
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Tools and Equipment-Military
Double Victory: The African American Military Experience
On View
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Community/Third Floor, 3 053
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

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