1812-20’s Era U.S. Navy Powder Bucket


Ultra Rare; once on display at the USS Constitution Museum.

Out of stock


Contact Us About This Product


Several years ago I came across this powder bucket in a collection of U.S.S. Constitution related material. At one time, or specifically, in 1998 the small identified collection of material was displayed in the Constitution Museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard. This was the only item that was not directly id’d to “Old Ironsides,” but they had it on display because they did not have one, and it was a great example of what would have been aboard with the part of the gun’s equipment.

That being said, this massive old bucket is constructed of wood and leather and brass. The bucket proper is 11 inches high, overall height with the handle fully extended is approximately 19 inches. The base diameter is 13 3/4 inches and is wood with outer surface being leather (wood 12 3/4 “). The leather at the base is nailed to the wood. The diameter of the top (without wide leather trim) is 11 1/2 inches and a total of 13 1/2 with the leather trim added.

The leather bales that hold the two brass “D” rings for the carrying handle are fastened to the leather that forms the bucket’s body. The bales are held by staples, and are supported in between the body and the heavy leather trim that surround the upper bucket diameter. The handle is made of rope covered in leather and fastened around the brass “D” rings.

The opening at the top of the bucket is 8 inches wide; that being the opening of the brass circular plate that forms the base for the lid which is no longer present. The brass plate is riveted to the thick leather top. That’s a lot of measurement I know, but look at the photos, it will all come clear.

All of the outer surfaces were painted black, everything. The interior is painted in a brick red. The paint is flaking, and no doubt is not the first paint. Do you know any sailors that paint anything only once onboard ship? The leather shows great age and use, but surprisingly is very sturdy. The weakest part is the handle and would hold the weight of the bucket, but why bother holding it that way now.

I search for some time on the internet to find another example, and did see an old photo of an American Man-of -War showing one cannon below deck, with all the gun equipment around it, and a bucket that looked just like this was hanging on the beam above with a water bucket which was much more narrow. Other than that, I saw in an auction a few years ago a C-1900 US Navy powder bucket constructed in a similar fashion and having the brass circular top with its cover, but the size had reduced significantly width wise and looked more like a fire bucket at first glance.

It is the thought of some that this bucket is probably just after the War of 1812 era; someone threw a date of 1819 at me which could very well be accurate. I know the museum believed it was a great representative of equipment used aboard U.S. Navy vessels in the age of “Fighting Sail.”

I have not seen another, nor have I spoken to anyone who has either. I can see where in poor conditions the leather would rot, but this leather feels like wood. A fabulous piece from the days of our sailing navy.



Additional information

Dimensions 26 × 26 × 20 in