Lepley Carved Deer Antler, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

An old photo of the tine of a deer antler that has been partially formed into a powder measure.

First photo of a partially made powder measure made from the antler of a deer.

Second photograph of apartially made powder measure made from the tine of a deer antler.

Third photo of a partially made powder measure based on a deer antler.

Fourth photo of a partially made powder measure that was being made from the antler of a deer.

This carved deer antler was found in a bucket of old Lepley rifle parts and gunsmithing tools in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA. The overall length is 3.18". I solicited comments on what it might be, and the answers I received are:

  • "I`m almost positive that this tool was used for final smoothing of the rifle stock before oiling it."
  • "I think the carved antler is a powder measure."
  • "The carved deer antler you asked about, I have a very old whistle that was my Great Grandfathers and it is shaped almost identical to your picture. It appears that it was not completed however. The flattened end is hollowed out and a pea is installed."
  • "Antler you have is most likley a powder measure. Groove cut around center is for a thong to be attached to hunting bag."
  • "I am a blacksmith interested in the gunsmith trade in the handmade days... The antler that had no identification is possibly a burnishing tool for the wooden gunstock. Look it over on both ends for signs of polishing wear to see if it supports my theory."

    Me personally? Considering the context of where it was found, and the similar shape (including lip) of other deer horn powder measures that I have seen lately in published photographs, the suggestion that it is a partially finished powder measure seems compelling. I cannot, however, discount the possibility that it is a partially finished whistle or some other implement. If it was planned to be a powder measure, it was probably for a pistol or a squirrel rifle, based on the limited available space to drill the powder reservoir. I very much appreciate all the comments I have received about the possible purpose of this artifact.

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