Georgia Museum of Art

University of Georgia

Athens, GA



"His Horne Made": Engraved Powder Horns from the Collection of James E. Routh, Jr.


The Georgia Museum of Art will present "His Horne Made": Engraved Powder Horns from the Collection of James E. Routh, Jr., from December 18, 1999, through March 26, 2000, in the Martha and Eugene Odum Gallery of Decorative Arts. This exhibition of eighteenth-century powder horns includes nine horns from the collection of James E. Routh, a Southern artist best known for his prints of the 1930s. (left: works from the exhibition)

The tradition of carving powder horns developed in the eighteenth-century by early settlers of America. The horns, carried by soldiers and hunters, were used for storing and dispensing gunpowder. The engraving of these horns may have become necessary for identification purposes; however, it quickly became a decorative art, as well as a folk practice.

By the end of King George's War in 1748, the tradition was well established among American men, so much so that, at the beginning of the French and Indian Wars in 1756, the engraved powder horn was considered a fashionable accouterment for men. Men would include their names, dates and places visited on their horns. In addition many would add geometric figures and decorations, rhymes, tales of travel, or the type of game they hunted. Many of the horns were inscribed with the owner's name and the words "his horne made" followed by the date of its carving.

Many of the carvings were done by the owner of the horn, but, some men saved their money to have a professional engraver decorate their horns. Each inscribed horn thus represented the owner's individuality and uniqueness.

Curated by William U. Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art, the exhibition is made possible at the Georgia Museum of Art through partial funding generously provided by Director's Circle members J.P. Huskins and Helen P. McConnell. "His Home Made"will be accompanied by an illustrated brochure published by the Georgia Museum of Art, which will feature an essay by William Guthman, a recognized authority on carved horns.

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Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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