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Powder Horn

Sarrazin, Jonathan __Engraver
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
horn, ink, mastic-like filler
approx. LOA 13;
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: curved horn engraved with a British ship entering Charleston on one side with a small inset engraved with a dog and a map of the Cherokee area of South Carolina on the other; an inset to the upper right of the map depicts a Native American holding a tomahawk and pointing a bow in the direction of a fort nestled in a valley; the body of the horn has an extended lobe with two holes engraved with diaperwork; the tip of the horn is turned with a set of rings in the center and a turned spout.

This horn was made in Charleston ca. 1762-1764, undoubtedly for a British officer who carried it back to Britain; his family crest is in a rectangular reserve above the Indian scene. The map of the Cherokee towns commemorates the campaign of the early 1760’s; the scene of the fort is likely Fort Prince George, although it could also be Fort Loudoun. The British did not carry powder horns, either for military or sporting purposes; this horn, like many horns of the French and Indian War, was a souvenir. It shows no sign of wear, which is also typical of map horns of the Hudson Valley and New England.

This is one of four horns known that are by the same artist. One is in a private collection in Scotland where it has been since the 18th century, one is at Yale University Art Gallery, and another is privately owned. All are of the same period; one is dated 1764. They are considered to have been made in Charleston by a professional engraver, artist, or carver, certainly a craftsman well-schooled in design and drawing. The scene of fortified Charleston shows the Half Moon Battery at the foot of Broad, a site taken over by the construction of the Exchange in the late 1760’s . St. Michael’s spire is evident to the left of the Battery, although with slightly incorrect gabling of the church roof parapets. St. Phillips’ tower is at far right; the Granville Bastion is on the left. Inclusion of the Half Moon Battery as well as St. Michael’s shows that the artist made his own drawing of the city, ostensibly from Shute’s Folly, since there is no published view of Charleston showing the city in this phase.

Research by Nick Powers during the 2008 MESDA Summer Institute convincingly argued that the engraver Jonathan Sarrazin was responsible for this group of horns. Typical of the artist’s work are the boldly cut “raffle” leaves accompanied by a delicate diaperwork ground, all serving as a reserve for a portion of the map of the Cherokee towns. The finely-cut shading of the Fort scene, the techniques used for the representation of leafy branches, and the method of cutting all of the lettering steps well beyond the usual quality of American horns. In addition to the usual pull-cut “scrimshaw” technique, the artist also used an engraver’s burin, principally for the heavier lines. This is evident in the progression-marks visible in curved cuts. Burins are not known to have been used on other American horns. The cuts were filled with a black mastic-like material, and both sepia and red inks used to highlight finer cuts such as those of the fort scene.

The horn body has been shortened 3/8-1/2″, evidently due to damage, and the base plug–and the attendant holes for its pin fastening–are gone. The drilled extension at the base is for a carrying (or hanging) strap; the hatchwork on this recut protrusion is later. probably 19th century. The original shaping of the horn was similar, but almost certainly with a fancier profile.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund