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Powder flask

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    dated 1686 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved staghorn with iron mounts

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the late René L'Hôpital

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This powder flask was used to carry gunpowder. A measured quantity of powder was drawn off by using the spring-loaded pivoting cap on the nozzle.

Firearms became more and more sophisticated during the 16th-century but still required a number of accessories to load and operate them. The main charge, placed in the barrel with the shot, was carried in the powder flask. Smaller priming flasks contained fine-grain powder for priming the pans of wheel-lock firearms. Flasks were attached to a bandolier, a type of sling worn over the shoulder or around the waist, from which hung the various accessories required for a weapon including spanners for the mechanism, measured charges, powder flasks and priming flasks.

Arms and armour are rarely associated with art. However, they were influenced by the same design sources as other art forms including architecture, sculpture, goldsmiths' work, stained glass and ceramics. These sources had to be adapted to awkwardly shaped devices required to perform complicated technical functions. Armour and weapons were collected as works of art as much as military tools.

Like the pistols and guns that accompanied them, decorated flasks were costly items. Inlaid firearms and flasks reflected the owners' status and were kept as much for display as for use. Daggers, firearms, gunpowder flasks and stirrups worn with the most expensive clothing projected an image of the fashionable man-at-arms. The most finely crafted items were worn as working jewellery.

Physical description

Roughly triangular powder flask in engraved staghorn with iron suspension loops, decorated on one side with St. George and the dragon and on the other with a staghunt

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


dated 1686 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Engraved staghorn with iron mounts


Height: 7.37 in, Width: 6.25 in

Descriptive line

Powder flask of engraved staghorn with iron suspension loops, decorated on one side with St. George and the dragon and on the other with a staghunt, Germany, dated 1686


Staghorn; Iron


Engraving (incising)


Arms & Armour; Metalwork; Fashion; Tools & Equipment; Death; Accessories; Firearms


Metalwork Collection

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