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Perfect Arrowhead Phenomena

Pg.9, Vol.XXXI No.2,1997 “Prehistoric American” 

Perfect means flawless. Phenomena means an unusual, unaccountable, remarkable fact or occurrence. The appearance of thousands of perfect arrowheads in the last 10 years; must certainly be a phenomenon. With 35 years of mainstream collecting, even I was amazed. Bob Overstreet, author of the latest “Arrowhead Identificat­ion Price Guide” describes the perfect artifact and I quote:”Grade 10. Perfect in every way, including thin­ness, flaking, symmetry and form. The best example you would ever expect to see in any given type”. He goes on to say: “this grade is extreme­ly rare, and therefore hardly ever seen,etc.”. 

This essay was prompted by a ques­tion posed to me by Dr.J. Neal Brown, a highly regarded authority on Southern artifacts and a good friend who asked: “How many Clovis points of any significance have you seen in your 18 years in Georgia?” I remembered four. Then he related to his home state of Mississippi. He could not recall more than a dozen. Then we covered other states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and the Carolinas. All of a sudden, hun­dreds of perfect points of all types are appearing on the market; Hardins, Clovis, Dovetails, Lost Lakes, Daltons, etc. Some collectors, new to the artifact field since 1990 can boast hundreds of fine perfect points. Where do you suppose these fine points were hiding up until then? The subject of how many fine points appeared in the great Edward Payne collection of the late ’20s and ’30’s were G10’s? Review illustrated many 6,7 and 8’s and a few 9’s. No 10’s! Were the perfect points ignored dur­ing these years? I think not.

What prompted the “Perfect Arrowhead Phenomena? Several pos­sibilities. Twenty years ago, several major dealers began buying up slight­ly damaged major pieces. At the same time there was an upsurge in the prac­tice of flint knapping. More than one old damaged piece was rechipped by experienced knappers and then aged to cover the work. In 1975 I noticed a large Dovetail of flint ridge with a broken base. 30 days later I saw the same piece which was now a perfect Ohio “Fracture Base”. Also many pieces with impact tip fractures are now without blemish.

But the real issue is the number of finely made reproductions which have entered the market. These are the G1 O’s marketed to the young execs and the movers and shakers who want to build a perfect invest­ment portfolio. I guess you know, real pieces are not perfect. Few of today’s new collectors ever picked up a piece of worked flint in a freshly plowed field. Many G10’s don’t have a histo­ry that exceeds the past 20 years. Artifacts made by ancient man in North America were made for a spe­cific purpose, primarily a tool for sur­vival. He probably was not trying to impress his friend. Look deeper for authenticity and less for perfection. I think you’ll enjoy the point.

“Used by Permission of the Author” and originally published in American Indian Artifacts; Genuine or

Reproduction by Col. John F. Berner. Copyright © 2000 by American Antiquities, Inc.