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   LOT 1285
Extremely Rare and Historic Finely Engraved Silver Mounted Pre-Alamo Texas Buffalo Horn Powder Horn with Finely Jeweler Inscribed Silver Plaques Reading: “The Horn of the Buffalo Killed by Col. John Darrington on the Upper Brassos, 1835” and “Presented by J. Darrington to Col. Wade Hampton” - A silver mounted buffalo horn from a Texas buffalo shot the year before the historic Battle of the Alamo and presented by a Texas land owner, southern planter, and U.S. Military officer who witnessed the Texas Revolution
is truly in a class of its own. Historic artifacts from 1830s Texas and the Texas Revolution are extremely rare, and those with documentable history are particularly scarce and desirable. On top of this, western buffalo powder horns themselves are also very hard to come by, and American powder horns with silver mounts are hard to find in general, regardless of the source of the horn itself. This historic buffalo powder horn is certainly one of the finest early Texas associated powder horns in existence, if not the finest, and is a tremendous piece of Texas and American history.
This distinctive western style powder horn measures 14 inches around the outside curve, 10 1/3 across the curve, and has a 3 1⁄2 by 3 1/3 inch base cap. The main body is a dark brown buffalo horn. It is fitted with a threaded brass spout, silver bands, suspension rings, oak leaf and acorns on the center band,
a silver base cap engraved with a detailed scene of a hunter shooting one of a pair of buffalo from a perch in a tree, and a pair of presentation inscribed silver plaques: one inscribed “Presented by J. Darrington/to Col. Wade Hampton.” and the other inscribed “The Horn of the Buffalo killed/by Col. John Darrington, on the upper Brassos, 1835.” The silver base cap alone is spectacular. The detailing of the engraving is particularly noteworthy as it shows Colonel Darrington in a gentleman hunter’s attire in a tree taking a shot at one of two running buffalo with his percussion “Plains rifle.” The buffalo themselves are of note given they appear more like shaggy cattle than an actual buffalo. Prior to George Catlin’s famous paintings from the 1830s and 1840s from the West, few Americans
had actually seen an accurate representation of a buffalo, let alone seen one in person, and representations of buffalo in art are thus generally inaccurate based on written or oral descriptions of the massive beasts of the plains. The detailing of the oak leaf and acorn band in the center is also interesting, given
204 the prevalence of oak leaves and acorns in German art and the influx of German
immigrants into Texas in the 19th century starting in the 1830s. Oaks are symbols of courage, strength, and hardiness, appropriate motifs for a horn presented by a former military officer to his comrade.
The fact that the horn is clearly inscribed as taken from a buffalo shot by Colonel Darrington on the Upper Brazos in 1835 is also very significant given
that year marks the beginning of the Texas Revolution and pre-dates
the famous Battle of the
Alamo in February-March
1836. The Upper Brazos
region was truly a dangerous
frontier in the 1830s and
marked the boundary
with the Comanche Nation.
The Comanche warriors
were a terrifying threat
for those settling in Texas
and frequented the Brazos.
Their raids against the Texas
settlements directly led to the
formation of the famous Texas
Rangers, and a running battle
between the Comanche and
the Texas Rangers is famously
memorialized in the roll-scene
on Colt’s Walker and Dragoon
Revolvers. The fact that a southern
gentleman like Darrington came
out to the Upper Brazos to hunt
a buffalo is a clear demonstration
of his interest in the Texas frontier
along with his personal bravery,
sense of adventure, and keen interest
in hunting.
The inscriptions indicate the horn was
presented by Colonel John Darrington
(1786-1855) to Colonel Wade Hampton
II (1791-1858). Both men were well-
educated wealthy southern planters from
South Carolina in the antebellum era and
served in the U.S. Military in the early 19th
century, including together during the War
of 1812 under Hampton’s father, General Wade
Hampton I (early 1750s to 1835) at the Battle
of the Chateauguay on October 26, 1813, near
Ormstown, Quebec, Canada. Darrington was then
a lieutenant colonel and the commanding officer
of the 4th U.S. Infantry, and the younger Hampton
had become a lieutenant in the dragoons in 1811. After
his father resigned in 1814, the younger Hampton served
as General Andrew Jackson’s acting inspector general and
aide during the Battle of New Orleans, and helped prepare the
American defenses, and then personally rode to Washington, D.C.
to share the news of the American victory. Both the Wade Hampton II
and Darrington submitted depositions on General Hampton’s behalf in a
case relating to the false imprisonment of a British spy/smuggler.
The elder Hampton had previously led the U.S. troops that crushed the German Coast Slave Insurrection of 1811 in Louisiana. This bloody incident was the first time Federal troops were used to put down a slave insurrection and also the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. Darrington, serving under Hampton, is reported as making the first contact with the rebelling slaves. General Wade Hampton I, a veteran of the American Revolution, was by many estimates the wealthiest slaveholder in the United States at the time of his death on February 4, 1835. Darrington was also a wealthy slaveholder and plantation owner and had inherited much of the family wealth upon the death of his brother Thomas.

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