ENGRAVED MICMAC INDIAN POWDER HORN OF ROBERT MERCER
This horn is featured on page 165 of "Accouterments II" by James R. Johnston. Robert Mercer lived between 1737 and 1793. He was born in Cecil County Maryland and died in New Castle, Delaware. Robert fought in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Navy aboard "The Delaware". The first Delaware, a frigate, was built in 1775 by order of the Continental Congress in the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Upon her launching in July 1776, Captain C. Alexander took command. The Delaware served in the Delaware River, joining with Commodore J. Hazelwood's Pennsylvania state ships in operations, delaying the British Fleet in approaching Philadelphia and supplying the British Army. When the British took possession of Philadelphia September 26,1777. The Delaware, along with some smaller ships, advanced on the enemy fortifications which were being erected, and opened a destructive fire while anchored some 500 yards from shore. On September 27, she went aground on the ebb tide and came under the concentrated fire of the British artillery. After a brave defense against overwhelming odds, Captain Alexander was compelled to strike his colors. The Delaware was taken into the Royal Navy until sold in March 1783. Robert Mercer, along with many of the survivors of The Delaware, was taken prisoner and put on board the British Ship "Old Jersey" They were among the more than 8,000 prisoners on board. The horn itself measures about 12" across the bow. It has a tapered round spout section with a single relief ring. There was once a sleeve toward the opening, probably to reinforce it. The main body is decorated extensively with engraved geometric Micmac designs in the traditional style. The front of the horn is inscribed "ROBERT MERCER". Other designs include a mermaid, an elk and a boat. The convex wooden butt is carved in the center with a spiraling fan, iron loop for strap attachment.
CONDITION: Some minor splintering at tip of spout, some chipping to relief ring on spout section. Main body retains a pleasing honey patina and shows some carry wear. Mercer's middle initial appears to have been intentionally removed long ago. Flange at butt was broken or removed during period of use. A very nice Revolutionary War Continental Navy and Marine horn with great history.
PROVENANCE: James D. Julia Winter 2018 Fine Art, Asian, and Antiques, Lot 2011 realized $12,705 including premium. Ex. Jim Dresslar and Steve Fuller Collections.
When Robert Weil started collecting images for the Contemporary Makers book in 1973 the challenge to record contemporary gun work was daunting. Gathering material was difficult and time consuming. Few makers thought that there was any value in published documentation of their work. Electronic publishing has changed all that. Having a website or having one's work available to view on the internet is becoming a necessity. In spite of all the potential to finally have a true overview of what's being produced by the artists of today, a great deal of work still remains covered up and basically unknown. Our role is to make an effort to document some portion of what’s going on today. To comment on the established makers and to uncover the unknown. We welcome your comments and suggestions and look to you our readers to make us aware of the talented makers out there. Art and Jan Riser Robert Weil and The Makers