The Honourable Company of Horners

A Guild of Contemporary Horn Workers and Collectors

Crafting & Collecting Works of an Ancient Material: Cattle Horn

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In 1996, Roland Cadle of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, who had long been interested in the historic 18th Century horn trade, decided to host a “Horn Fair” at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA. The horn fair consisted of a series of seminars and exhibits on the subjects of collecting and making objects from cow horn. It was such a positive experience for those who attended that eleven workers and collectors met afterwards to form a new organization called the Honourable Company of Horners (HCH). The founding members decided that the purpose of the organization would be to promote and preserve the knowledge of horn working. Members decided to meet each year to hold seminars and do the work needed to accomplish that purpose.

During its first few years, the HCH was largely concerned with conducting its annual horn fairs, attracting new members and organizing itself. Regular annual meetings were held in numerous locations including the Ohio Historical Society, Davis-Elkins College, Colonial Williamsburg, and Connor Prairie. By 2000, the HCH had over 100 active members. Bylaws were adopted in 2001 and the HCH became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in 2002. In 2004, the HCH adopted a unique voluntary guild structure for its horn working members.

Today, the HCH remains firmly committed to its original mission – educating its members and the public about horn working and its history. Currently, the HCH has over 350 members and publishes a newsletter called The Horn Book, which comes out three times per year.

Their annual meeting is open to the public and is held the first part of March every year. Anyone interested in horn working or collecting and would like to know more about the HCH should consider attending one of these meetings.

The 2018 Annual Honourable Company of Horners Meeting at the AHEC, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

The Honourable Company of Horners (aka the Horn Guild) met for their 22nd Annual Meeting and Banquet on March 2 & 3, 2018 at the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center (USAHEC) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Many Guild members dress in 18th century attire to enhance the colonial atmosphere of the gathering.

Photos by Ginger Reddick

This year featured a fascinating display by Roland Cadle of folding horn combs carved with the effigy of an American Indian woman, as well as other displays and sales tables with numerous finished powder horns, cups, woven straps, and various other accoutrements. An Interactive Workshop with several work stations manned by Master Horners and Journeymen featured demonstrations of horn and wood turning on the lathe, the use of a spring pole lathe, horn coloring and engraving and scrimshaw work, and many other aspects of hornwork. As always, there was an ample supply of materials available for restocking your supplies, including cow horns, horn rounds and sheets, and other related materials.

A small cafe is incorporated in the facility in case you need a break, just want pause for a cup of coffee or snack, or have lunch with friends. The AHEC also maintains a very fine museum showcasing the heritage of the U. S. Army, with both indoor and outdoor facilities.

Access to all events at the conference including exhibits, horn work demonstrations and all seminar speakers is included with the registration.

Attendance at the Conference is by pre-registration and is free to all members. The public is welcome as well at the Army Heritage & Education Center.

Key Activities this year included:

  • The Annual Business Meeting took place on Friday morning at 10:30 AM.
  • Seminar entitled “The Enigma of the Effigy Combs” was presented by Master Horner Roland Cadle.
  • Master Horner Roland Cadle presented a seminar entitled “The Enigma of the Effigy Combs”
  • Awards Judging for the horn competition and evaluation of horn items submitted by members desiring to advance to Master Horner took place. This year there were 4 petitions for Master: Ed Long, Walter Mabry, Rex Reddick and Tim Sanner, all of whom advanced to Master. There were no applications for advancement to Journeyman this year. 2 Masters Presentations were made: “Making Horn Cups” by Rex Reddick and “Making Flat Powder” Horns by Ed Long.
  • Door prizes – The drawings took place during the Saturday evening banquet and several prizes were distributed, including subscriptions to “Early American Life” magazine and Horn Guild logo coffee cups.
  • National Muzzleloading Rifle Association – The NMLRA was in attendance for assistance, answering questions, membership signup, and to accept the 2018 – “1 of 1000” Powder Horn made by Clinton Byers, Journeyman Horner.
  • Saturday Night Banquet – The Saturday night festivities began at 6:30 PM with a social, followed by the banquet which took place in the new room across from the exhibit hall. Live entertainment was provided by Guild member, Nathan “Bucky” Blauch.
  • The after dinner program began with the presentation of the 1 of 1000 Powder Horn to the NMLRA representative and former NMLRA President, Jim Fulmer. Winners of the horn competition were announced and advancement ceremonies for Master took place. The prestigious Kiselica Award, a solid gold horn pin which is only presented when there is a deserving recipient, went to Sharon DeCamp this year for her dedicated service to the Guild over the years.
  • The culmination of the Banquet was the installation of our new Guild Master, Carl Dumke, and presentation of the Guild Master’s Gorget.

Membership in the Honourable Company of Horners

Membership in the organization is open to anyone interested in hornwork and its history. Dues are $40.00 annually and include a subscription to the organization’s journal, “The Horn Book”, and informative, full color publication distributed 3 times a year with information articles and news of the Guild. Also included is registration for the annual conference.

Honourable Company of Horners Website

Their website is both informative and interesting. “Master Horner Profiles” provides a series of articles on those members of the Honourable Company of Horners who have achieved the status of Master Horner. The Blog and galleries provide both photos and information that is sure to help anyone interest in the craft or collecting.