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‘The Common Man’s Fancy Powder Horn’ by Tad Frei


hite cow horn was the starting point for making a powder horn before extensive hunting of the Eastern buffalo made that beast’s black horn available to horners. A small horn like this could have been made for a boy, but more likely served a frontiersman to carry his priming powder or perhaps a city gentleman for an occasional hunt or charging a pistol. This horn’s artistic embellishments set it apart from the majority of utilitarian accoutrements used in colonial America. The fitted pine base plug speaks to a concern for compactness and simplicity, but the elaborate spout carving reveals the maker’s desire to show off his skill. Scrimshaw, normally applied by the owner, was a means of personalization and sometimes an artistic expression in itself. Tad Frei is a social studies teacher with a lifelong interest in early American history. He began making powder horns about five years ago and what started out as a simple project quickly became a passion.

“The Common Man’s Faincy Powder Horn.”

Tad Frei

“When I started, I wanted to recreate museum-quality originals with elaborate carving and engraving,” Frei says, “but I became more drawn towards the common folk art style as time went on. To me, folk art just has a certain character that professionally made pieces lack. I’ve always been fascinated by original accoutrements because they feel like tangible links to the past. They all have a story to tell through their character and patina. My favorite part about working with a historical art form is the chance to create that story.” Contact him at

‘Hunting Knife and Sheath’ by Todd Daggett


or frontier blacksmiths, old leaf-springs were a source of high-quality steel for knife-making. This knife is hand-forged with hammer and anvil from an antique buckboard wagon seat spring and stamped with the maker’s mark. The genuine antler handle is fitted with a cast pewter bolster. To make the knife rugged for hard use, the handle is both pinned through the tang, and the tail of the tang peened over an iron washer at the heel of the handle. The deep, protective sleeve-type sheath is made from scraps of hide stitched with deer sinew and re-enforced at the blade’s tip with three brass tacks (actual antique tacks, in fact) to protect the stitches from getting cut from the inside. It has the look of a primitive, rather than professionally made, piece that shows the practicality you would expect from a settler or hunter. Todd Daggett lives a relatively quiet life with his lovely wife and four wonderful children in northern Illinois. His interest in primitive skills, hunting and trapping started at an early age. It didn’t take long for these interests to move him toward knife-making. Daggett built his own all-masonry coal forge on his property and uses only hand tools. “I prefer to use hand tools on the knives I make,” he says. “It’s just more meaningful that way.” Contact him at Todd Daggett 


American Shooting Journal // July 2019

“Hunting Knife and Sheath.”

Editor’s note: For more on the auction and how to bid by phone or online, call the CLA office at (540) 886-6189 and visit

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American Shooting Journal July 2019  

American Shooting Journal July 2019  

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