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Masonic Powder Horn with Cap
1810-1825
Maker not marked
USA: Eastern United States
Cowhorn; brass
overall: 3-3/4"h x 10-3/4"w x 3"d
Museum Purchase
97.010a-b

a: Engraved powder horn, or container, b: fitted with a brass screw-on powder flask cap and adjustable nozzle, the cap stamped "SYKES/ PATENT"; base plug is sheathed with a flat conforming brass plate; there are three ring-and-staple suspension rings are mounted on horn's inner curve; sides are knife-cut-engraved with a view of a 34-gun Brig of War flying a British Union Jack and Masonic symbols which include: Masonic Royal Arch, Jacob's Ladder, a large Masonic pillar, scales of Justice, skull & crossbones on a coffin, serpent & rod (Aaron's Staff), a Sojourner (pilgrim), Ark & dove, Bruning Bush, beehive, mallet & chisel, trowel, three crowns, crossed swords, crossed quill pens, All-seeing eye, square, plumb, level, square & compasses, the Pentalpha, sun, moon and seven stars.


In the 1700s and 1800s, sailors and soldiers needed light, waterproof and portable containers to keep their gunpowder dry and readily to hand. This container was made of cow horn with a brass cap and nozzle produced by a British manufacturer. The horn’s owner or a professional artist engraved the horn with Masonic symbols and a warship, suggesting life at sea and Freemasonry both held an important place in the horn’s owner’s life.