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Three and Three-Quarters of United States Copper Powder Flasks

Part 2 of 3


     From May 5 to May 14, 2000, the featured Collector's Item of the Week topic was 3 different examples of the U.S. Peace flask. This week we will be looking at the second of three and three-quarters of other U.S. military copper powder flasks. Part 1 was posted on July 20, 2000. A picture of all these flasks follows: 

Three and three-Quarters of United States Copper Powder Flasks


Top: An 1845 dated "Fouled Anchor" U.S. Navy flask by Stimpson. (See August 3 Collector's Item)
Center Left: A "topless" 1832 U.S. Rifleman's "Bugle Eagle" flask by Robert Dingee. (This Collector's Item) 
Center Right: A complete 1833 dated U.S. Rifleman's "Bugle Eagle" flask by Robert Dingee. (This Collector's Item)
Bottom: An undated 1825 -27 U.S. Rifleman's "Public Property" flask. (See July 20's Collector's Item



     Please note that the definitive work on Powder Flasks, of all types, is Ray Riling's "The Powder Flask Book" published in 1953. It is a magnificent tome and it is highly unlikely that it will ever be surpassed in its breadth and study scope of powder flasks. Therefore, rather than reinvent the wheel, I have paraphrased or repeated directly herein some of his comments on the subject powder flasks. I pray to God that I have done right by Mr. Riling and can only belatedly thank him for the unbelievable effort he put into his book and the great and lasting knowledge and benefits he passed on to the entire world.



     With the exception of the "Fouled Anchor" U.S. Navy flask the official U.S. government powder flasks were intended to be used only for issue to Riflemen in the Regular Service and to Militia Units. They may, of course, have been used irregularly with muskets. However, these flasks, along with the Hall rifle flask manufactured at the Harper's Ferry Arsenal and the later "Peace" flasks, were generally meant to serve the Model 1803, 1814-20 U.S. flintlock rifle, the Model 1814 U.S. flintlock rifle, the Model 1817 flintlock "Common Rifle" and the percussion conversions thereof plus the U.S. percussion rifle, Model of 1841. The "Fouled Anchor" navy flask was originally manufactured for use with the Jenks Navy Carbine and the Ames Boxlock single shot pistol. 

     Last week we started with the earliest of the grouping. That was the James Baker "Public Property Flask" of 1825 -1827. This week the featured flasks are Robert Dingee's


"Bugle eagle " Flasks of 1832 - 1833

     Robert Dingee, the maker or contractor for the "Bugle Eagle" flask, was listed as an "inspector of green hides" at 96 West in the New York City Directory of 1832-1833. On February 20, 1832 he was awarded a contract for 3,450 copper powder flasks to hold 9 ounces of rifle powder to be supplied with a regulating charger, with the smallest setting to be 70 grains. The cost per flask would be $1.30. He received later contracts for Hall's rifle accoutrements complete with 250 sets of black leather pouches and copper flasks to hold 8 ounces of of powder plus 250 rifle flasks in 1834. In January of 1836 another contract called for 200 rifle flasks of copper carrying 8 ounces with charger top providing a maximum of 100 grains and minimum of 85 grains in loading measurements. In 1837, Dingee would turn down supplying any more flasks as he had experienced a loss upon those he had formerly manufactured. Later contracts for the "new" Peace Flask would then go to Ames and Batty. 


     The 1832 flask pictured here does not have it's top and is unmarked. However the eagle and bugle design is the same as that on the 1832 dated flask pictured in Riling's book. A third flask is pictured in his book. That flask does not have the U. S. in the loop of the bugle. Riling offers that it may have been purchased by certain militia units which equipped their own corps. 


     A Major Campbell, quoted in Riling's book states: "The eagle ornament is of practically the same design as worn by Infantry and Artillery on belt plates from 1832 to 1836. The bugle is not an accurate representation of the infantry insignia for the period. Mounted riflemen used a somewhat similar bugle in 1844 which rested on it's bell." The bugle on this flask model is much like the one on the Public Property Flask. Both are without carrying rings and neither are emblematic of U.S. Corp insignia at the time they were issued. The visual evidence follows:


"Bugle eagle " Flasks of 1832 - 1833


Left: The 1833 Dated Flask    Right: The Topless 1832 Flask


     The approximate measurements of the 1833 dated flask are 9½" overall including the 1¾" "regulating" adjustable spout. The width, at the widest point is 4". The top diameter is 1½". The bugle stamping is 2-5/8" long by ¾" in height. The inside bell measurement is 9/16". On the 1832, the bugle stamping is 2-5/8" long, 15/16" in height with an inside bell measurement of 5/8". Riling states that the actual average measurements of powder from the chargers of his 3 samples were 68, 74.5 and 85 grains. The 1833 dated flask is marked on the top of the collar "R. DINGEE/ NEW-YORK" in 2 lines directly across from the date of "1833".  There are no inspector's initials, numbers or any other markings. Identical Bugle Eagle stampings are on both sides of each flask.



A Photo Comparison Of The Bugle Eagle Stamping

A Photo Comparison Of The Bugle Eagle Stamping 

Left: The 1833 Dated Bugle Eagle flask     Right: The "Topless" 1832 Bugle Eagle Flask

     As can be noted, the left wing (to the viewer's right) of each eagle is distinctly different. Additionally the bugle loop and bell are thicker on the 1832 as are the US markings. The stampings measurements are slightly different between flasks. They are, without doubt, 2 different stampings.









Top View of Flask Top and Spout

Top View of Flask Top and Spout

View of Spout With Regulating Stops

View of Spout With Regulating Stops


Bottom view of Flask Top and Spout

Bottom view of Flask Top and Spout


Carrying Ring - Same on Both Flasks

Carrying Ring - Same on Both Flasks



Next Part - An 1845 Dated USN "Fouled Anchor" Flask



     As stated last week, I hope that everyone likes this series on American military copper powder flasks both in words and pictures. Full credit for the descriptions used should be given to Ray Riling along with our deep gratitude for his epic powder flask book. Once again, my thanks to Reed Radcliffe, my son, the webmaster of this site. 

 Next Part 3 of 3 

Dave Radcliffe