Powder Horn

Unknown American, American


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Horn, pine, iron, string

Overall: 13 3/8 in. (34 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Marie Elaine Tefft in memory of William Paul Nelson, Class of 1961



Place Made: United States, North America



Object Name

Armament: Accessory

Research Area

Decorative Arts

American History

Not on view


Inscribed: SAML PEASLEE / HIS HORN 1780


Powder horns provided a fireproof and waterproof means of carrying gunpowder in the era of muzzle-loading firearms. They gained widespread use in this country during the Colonial Wars and the Revolution, but became obsolete with the growing availability of cartridges in the nineteenth century. As seen here, they could also serve as a palette for carved inscriptions and decorative designs. The similarity of the fanciful, stylized animal motifs on this example with at least two other examples suggest a shared design source—possibly a book illustration—or one carver imitating the work of another. This horn belonged to Samuel Peaslee (1746–1821), one of the first settlers of Sutton (formerly Perrystown), New Hampshire. He ran a tavern and brickyard and served as a member of the local militia during the Revolution.

From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art

Exhibition History

American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-September 12, 2021.

American Folk Art at the Hood Museum of Art (a thematic partial permanent gallery installation); Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, July 16, 2015.

Published References

Grangsay, Stephen V. American Engraved Powder Horns: A Study Based on the J. H. Grenville Gilbert Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1945. Guthman, William H. Drums A'beating, Trumpets Sounding: Artistically Carved Powder Horns in the Provincial Manner, 1746-1781. Hartford, Conn: Connecticut Historical Society, 1993. Guthman, William H. “Powder Horns Carved in the Provincial Manner, 1744–1781.” The Magazine Antiques, October, 1993, 494–501. Routh, James E. Jr. his horn[e] made: Engraved Powder Horns from the Collection of James E. Routh, Jr. Athen, Ga., 2000. Worthen, Augusta Harvey, compiler. The History of Sutton, New Hampshire, 2 vols. Concord, N.H.: 1890.


A descendant of the original owner then residing in central New Hampshire; sold to Marie Elaine Nelson (later Tefft), c. 1969–70; given to present collection, 2012

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