Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3086: 1775 Dated Engraved Large Powder Horn

Auction Date: September 12, 2021

Historic 1775 Dated Revolutionary War Era Engraved Large Powder Horn with Dual Inscriptions for Israel Potters and Ephraim Munson

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $5,000 - $7,500

Historic 1775 Dated Revolutionary War Era Engraved Large Powder Horn with Dual Inscriptions for Israel Potters and Ephraim Munson

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
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Item Views: 513
Item Interest: Active
Catalog Page: 62
Class: Other
Description:

This larger carved powder horn has a rounded base plug, engraving consisting of simple floral designs and a single masted ship with five guns, and octagonal throat with a scalloped edge and a raised ring before the octagonal spout. It is inscribed: "Israel Potters horn June th 1775/Branford May th 27 AD 1775/Ephraim Munson his horn." No documented provenance is included with the horn, but a letter from Walter O'Connor in 1999 discussing possible men is included. Another very similar horn inscribed for a "Ephraim Monson" and dated August 21, 1775, is also documented in "Engraved Powder Horns of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War Era" by Nathan L. Swayze (copy of the page included), and there is also another horn inscribed for an Israel Potter. Swayze notes that while there is no documented provenance with the other "Monson" horn as well, "'Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War' shows quite a record on an Ephraim Munson of Granville, beginning with his participation in the Alarm of April 19, 1775, through 1777." The entry reads: "Munson, Ephraim, Granville. Private, Capt. Lebbeus Ball's co. of Minute-men, which marched April 20, 1775, in response to the alarm of April 19, 1775; service, 9 days; reported enlisted into the army April 29, 1775; also, Capt. Lebbeus Ball's co.. Col. Timothy Danielson's regt. muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775; enlisted April 29, 1775; service, 3 mos. 10 days; also, company return dated Roxbury, Oct. 6, 1775; also, order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money dated Roxbury, Dec. 22, 1775; also, Private, Capt. William Cooley's Co., Col. John Mosley's (Hampshire Co.) regt.; enlisted July 9, 1777; discharged July 30, 1777 ; service, 27 days, including travel (100 miles) home; company marched to reinforce Northern army." Ephraim Munson (1744 - 1809) was born in Branford, Massachusetts, and later lived to the north in Granville, Connecticut. Among the possible Israel Potters in the region at the time who could have also used this horn is Israel R. Potter (1754–1826), something of a mythical figure from the American Revolution. His life story has been told and retold with plenty of heroic embellishments as "The Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter" by Henry Trumbull (written largely in an attempt to secure Potter a pension) and Herman Melville's novel "Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile." He was reportedly a "bastard" born in Cranston, Rhode Island, as Israel Ralph but was raised largely by John Potter, possibly his actual father according to some sources. He later ran away from an apprenticeship and became a fur trapper, hunter, and sailor. He served in the Rhode Island militia which was stationed at Roxbury during the Battle of Bunker Hill. He then served on-board the brigantine USS Washington which was captured on December 3, 1775, by the HMS Fowey and taken to Boston. After being transported to England as a prisoner, he reportedly escaped and worked in King George III and Princess 's Amelia's gardens as a laborer before being forced to flee again. A letter of introduction for him delivered to the Franklin still exists, but it is doubtful that he actually acted as a spy and courier for Franklin as he later claimed. However, it is documented that Franklin assisted Potter with funds to return to American, but he instead returned to England where he married and had children, is said to have spent roughly 45 years in exile before returning to the United States and died in 1826 in poverty.

Rating Definition:

Very good overall. The horn shows moderate wear and aging overall, light but distinct designs and markings, and some faint cracks. This is definitely an interesting horn dated to early in the struggle for American independence.



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