Archive for June, 2012

Copy of an 1812 horn by Francis Tansel made by Tim Crosby and TC Albert

June 21, 2012

Ft. Meigs Tansel Horn by Tim Crosby and engraved by TC Albert

This horn is featured in Muzzle Blast Magazine May 2012.  It is also on The Contemporary Makers blog. The Ft Meigs horn was made by Tim Crosby and TC Albert, long-time friends of ours.  This copy is based on two original horns made by Francis Tansel. One horn is currently displayed at the Fort Meigs museum and historic site. The other is in a private collection.

Two very similar Ft. Meigs were made by Francis while he actually served at Ft. Meigs as a volunteer in Boswell’s 10th Kentucky Militia regiment. Being listed as sick, Francis Tansel was left behind at Ft. Meigs, Ohio country. General Harrison ordered all but a hundred of his troops north into Canada where they arrived in time to help defeat the British Army at the Battle of the Thames on October 5th 1813. It was probably during these events that Francis Tansel carved his Fort Meigs powder horns.

Ft. Meigs events

TC Albert writes:

“Trench art is generally defined as an object relating to a war or conflict that was decorated by a direct participant during those events.  Francis Tansel joined Boswell’s 10th militia in May 1813 from Scott County Kentucky.  He carved and dated a pair of powder horns while stationed at Fort Meigs during the war of 1812. ”

“The special horn for this set, complete with its turned and applied walnut tip, fish mouth, and toothed engrailing  was crafted by Tim Crosby. Then, using images of the original Tansel Fort Meigs horn as a pattern, the horn was engraved by T.C Albert.

Detail of the craftsmanship of Tim Crosby and TC Albert

Contemporary Longrifle Association’s live auction commemorating the War of 1812

“Francis and his sons, John, Timothy and Stark are widely known for their famous carved powder horns, engraved in what has fittingly become known as “The Tansel” style. That they eventually settled in the Indiana territory as farmers and horn smiths is also common knowledge, but it’s not so well-known that Francis himself was a veteran of The War of 1812. We can only speculate what the bulk of his war-time experiences were, and how they influenced the recurring use of patriotic themes on the horns that he and his sons carved. This Live Auction offering tries to bring a little bit of that experience back to life.

This horn and many other 1812 items will be available August 18th 2012 at the CLA Live Auction in Lexington Kentucky.

Text from the articles  by TC Albert. Contemporary Makers Blog and Muzzle Blasts Magazine.  Photos by TC Albert

Wild Willy Frankfort on the cover of The Horn Book

June 13, 2012

This is the cover of The Horn Book (winter 2012), the magazine of The Honorable Company of Horners.  It is an original painting by Willie Frankfort of himself sitting at a table with horn items around him.

The sign reads, “Horn Shop at Ye Gaston Town. Makers Powder horns ~ Cups ~ Spoons ~ and Snuffboxes.

At the bottom, it says: ” The Master Craftsman

A Canvas sits alone and bare awaiting a touch so tender with care

Strokes applied with care and delight, images forming an incredible sight,

A splendid design of flowers and vines of birds with feathers appearing to shine,

If you look in the center you will see the master craftsman looking at thee. ”


Willy Frankfort tells me that this painting although nice, it’s not his favorite style.  He is an illustrator and a cartoonist and likes the folksy sketches from the 17th and 18th century.  He likes to mingle his style with that of past artists and I think it  came out really nice.

Willie writes in his biography.

Wiilliam “Wild Willy” Frankfort

Hello, I am Wm. “Wild Willy” Frankfort artist and professional Horner.

I am a registered Master Horner with the Honorable Company of Horners.  A Guild started in 1996 to assist and instruct artists and craftsmen in the endeavor of creating powder horns and other horn items.  (Cups, spoons, combs, etc.)  I became a Master in 2006 and have accumulated numerous awards for my craft.  I am a founding member of, “Rangers of the Ohio Company” and currently a member of, “The First Virginia Regiment” Experimental Archeologist, and Re-Enactors.  My passion is 18th century frontier history, particularly the Virginia backcountry.

I am currently teaching at Pricketts Fort, West Virginia in the, “Teaching History Through the Arts” program and have been an instructor with the National Parks Service and many private and local programs for the last twenty odd years.

I was looking on Wild Willy’s website and the Jamestown Horn caught my eye. It is a late 17th century style flat “partitioned” horn.  It is about 13″ long and has three panels on both sides.

The first panel is a map of the Roanok area with shipwreks, islands, and natives.  It is taken from one of the original Jamestown maps.

The next panel is of the compass rose of the of the original map, and the last is a ship from the map.

The top band states, “The pictures of sundry things from the voyage made by Sir Walter Raleigh Knight 1585.”

A WERON (Warrior)

The reverse side offers three panels of the natives from that area.

A Cheiff Lorde

The horn is covered in geometrics and has one applied ring and spout.  For more information contact William Frankfort,, or if he is out of town, his son Zachary,

West Coast Horn Fair 2012 Report

June 11, 2012


An enthusiastic group of people gathered in Morro Bay, California on Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, 2012. It was hosted by John and Linda Shorb, owners of Powder Horns and More.

Visitors at the display tables

Participants and visitors were from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and many parts of California. At 10 AM, Scott Morrison and John Shorb played their blowing horn serenade across the floor of the hall. This signaled the opening of the West Coast Horn Fair.

Examples Steve Vance brought for his talk

Steve Vance gave a two-hour talk on historic types of scrimshaw. He gave many illustrations and had several horns that showcased his topic. He discussed historical viewpoint, tips on achieving a better appearance, and the layout of scenes on a horn.

Steve Skillman at his table before his presentation

Next, Steve Skillman presented a talk about the specialized tools he uses in his horn work. High points included the thought of heating and bending files, the use of pen mills to square horn tips, and examples of many of the files Steve uses in his work. Ace Hardware is not the last place one should look for files. They are available from many other sources.

John Shorb teaching his class on blowing horns

John Shorb then discussed blowing horns. The size and thickness of the tip of a blowing horn is a major concern, as it has to be big enough to work with. He uses a hole saw to shape the outer edge of the mouthpiece and a pen mill to drill the inner recess.

A Dremel tool can be used to contour the inside of the mouthpiece. After that, it is just sand and polish.

Steve Skillman, Don Kerr and Steve Vance before the class on period correct horn repair.

Most of us gathered at Dorn’s Breakers Restaurant for dinner and great fellowship. We had a private dining room for our use. The food was fantastic, and the conversations were even better.

Horn examples for John Shorb’s class on horn selection and what makes a good or a bad horn.

Scott and John again provided a rousing chorus on their blowing horns, signaling the start of classes for the next day.

John Shorb discussed several topics, the first of which was shop safety. Keeping the eyes, ears and fingers all attached and in good working order is a prerequisite for happy horn making. Dust control and protection was also stressed. Next, he talked about horn selection, not trying to turn ugly horns into pretty powder horns, appropriate sizes, and right and left-side carry horns. He also discussed the first steps he takes in making a powder horn and the tools he uses, and why those steps are taken.

Scott Morrison talking on The placement of rings panels and grooves.

Scott Morrison next talked about The Golden Mean concept and how it figures into horn design. He discussed how to lay out horns for the placement of rings, panels, and grooves. The concept is to divide the horn into 8 segments, the body will comprise 5 segments and the neck will be 3. The old saying, “The eye don’t lie!” tells it all. If it doesn’t look right, it isn’t

Some participants attending the class on horn finishes.

After another Divine Catering lunch we waddled back into the class room for a round table discussion led by Scott Morrison and Steve Skillman on various horn finishes and finishing techniques. RIT dyes, potassium permanganate, acids, and natural dyes like walnut stain; berries, onionskins, etc were discussed.

A small part of the Horn books that Jim Hayden brought and discussed.

Next, our itinerate book peddler, Jim Hayden, discussed some of the many books available on the subject of powder horns. He left us all with a great bibliography on the subject and a CD filled with engraving scenes suitable for horn work.

In final session we talked about next year’s West Coast Horn Fair. We will try to implement many of the new ideas. It will be held on April 26 and 27th, 2013 in either Washington or Oregon. Details will be posted in the Powder Horns and More newsletter and

Our Banquet

Finishing off the event was a banquet fit for a king. A crew from Cayucos Community Church came in, prepared a sumptuous feast. They cooked tri-tip roasts on the barbecue pit. And in addition they served a spring mix salad, oven cooked rice pilaf and candied carrots. For desert, there was a sheet cake with the West Coast Horn Fair logo powder horn on it.

The grand prize winner of the NMLRA 1 of 1000 print by David Wright.

Tickets for the Raffle prizes were drawn, and there were many happy winners. About half were from mail in tickets and the other half were bought at the event.

In closing, I would like to thank all the people who registered and attended, and the people who bought raffle tickets. Steve Vance, Steve Skillman, Scott Morrison, and Jim Hayden did a great job of making presentations. Thanks to my wife, Linda Shorb, who puts up with me on a daily basis. Without her, this would not have come about. The event was informative, successful and loads of fun. Hope to see you next year.

J R Robison’s horn was featured in the American Traditions Magazine

June 3, 2012

JR Robison a long time friend of ours had one of his horns featured in the  American Traditions the magazine of the Contemporary Longrifle Association.

Powder Horn by J R Robison

Another horn by JR Robison

JR’s horn featured with a pouch by Allison

J. R. Robison

Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us.