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Personal Effects, May 05

Question: Hey, is this a horn that someone made from a powder horn. I’ve never seen one like it before.

The tip is brass. What does the brass plaque on the front mean? It’s brass and says E. Gates St. 4 –1993 2567 Berne St Akron 12 Ohio. Overall its size is close to 13 inches. I put the leather straps on. It also has some tiny holes and nibbles in it. Will mice eat horn. Is it real? It worth much? Appreciate it.

Answer: Well, you have a hunter’s horn used to call the hounds or alert the riders. 

There are several different types of hunter’s horns out there. Yes, it’s a real piece of cattle horn. There was a time that horn was used for many things. Not just for powder horns and hunter’s horns, but softened and flattened, it was formed into spoons, small bowls and snuff boxes. 

I don’t think that your piece is that old. I think your piece dates to likely the 1930s.

I think that the plaque on the front was the previous owner. I did a quick — and I mean quick — search and found no E. Gates who died in or near Akron, Ohio, that fit the parameters of your horn. Yes, I say it was an owner and that was his address. There is a Berne Street in Arkon, so it makes sense.

Everyone thinks of fox hunting as a residue from the Old South. Well there are many states, northern and southern, that hold or host active fox hunts. Today, they are used to hunt coyotes that can damage or kill live stock and pets. Some clubs don’t hunt any thing and just do whats called a “drag.” A burlap bag is drenched in an animal scent and is sent dragging behind a four wheeler around and through the countryside. The hounds pick up and the scent and the party moves on towards the end. Great fun and exercise. 

Clubs can be formal and firmly established, like the Iroquois Hunt Club (IHC), based in Fayette County, Kentucky. IHC was formed in 1880 by General Roger D. Williams. That’s well over 100 years old. Or they can be just more casual get togethers. 

I did see that there are several active fox hunt clubs in Ohio. We may never know the reasons for the plaque, how old it is or what it was used for (I like to think it was a honorary gift from a hunt club.) 

What concerns me are what you call the “nibbles.” First off, mice will eat horn. They love it. But you don’t have mice. You have something more serious.

You have what old collectors call horn weevils, horn worms or more commonly, carpet beetles. Dermestidae, particularly the genera Anthrenus and Attagenus, if you want to get fancy. Carpet beetles are drawn to natural materials; your wool Oriental carpet, your cashmere sweater, your silk undies, leather bound books, alpaca socks and your horn items. Vacuum carefully and fully where this item was. Washable items should be washed with hot soapy water and left to dry. Rub in a thin dusting of boric acid. Boric acid is non toxic to humans, but will kill most insects. However, it has a bleaching effect, so don’t use it on dark items. For valuable items consult an expert. For heavy infestation call an exterminator.

All in all I like your horn and its mysterious plaque. I think in a retail store it would sell for about $40. Thanks for sharing it and for a great question.