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Long missing powder horn back at Deerfield museum

July 2, 2014

DEERFIELD, Mass. (AP) — An intricately carved Colonial-era powder horn is back on display at a western Massachusetts museum 65 years after it was stolen, and exactly 254 years after it was engraved.

The horn, originally owned by Greenfield resident Jonathan Smead, was placed on display Wednesday at the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield.

It went missing in 1949, and was actually found in the 1950s by Longmeadow resident James Richardson, who as a child, loved to scour through the town dump for unusual items.

“There was this big trunk full of stuff that was on fire, and some stuff had spilled out of it onto the ground, so I started kicking around in the burning leaves, and I kicked out the horn,” Richardson told The Recorder (http://bit.ly/1m85CUo ).

Richardson, now 77, had no idea it was stolen, so he kept it for decades until he took it to be appraised recently and found out about its rightful owner.

“Ethically and morally, I felt like it had left this collection and should be returned,” said Richardson, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and the curator emeritus of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Museum curator Suzanne Flynt received a call from Richardson about the horn in March.

“I was shocked,” Flynt said.

When the horn was stolen, the museum had no curator and no security system.

The horn is now in a sealed case with an alarm.

The museum has a collection of about 12 other powder horns, but none as intricate as the Smead horn, which includes his name, the date he commissioned the carvings — July, 2, 1760 — and images of deer, mermaids, ships and fish.

The horn was made at the British fort of Crown Point, where Smead served in the militia, Flynt said.

“The artistry on the horn is magnificent. It must have been done by an artist-soldier who had a lot of experience doing this sort of thing and was serving in the militia with John Smead,” she said.


Information from: The (Greenfield, Mass.) Recorder, http://www.recorder.com

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