Kyle on Antiques: Two items identified by reader

skinning axeUPDATE: The mysterious stone artifact on page 20 of the Feb. 13 issue seems to me to be a skinning and butcher knife. It is too fragile to be an axe. The large round curve is probably for separating the hide from the carcass, without cutting holes in the hide, and slicing the meat. The pointed end at the top would be useful for opening the hide along the midline and along the inside of the legs, cutting through joints, etc. It likely did have a handle to make it more effective. Many stone knives are mistakenly labeled spear points. Kansas was buffalo territory, with a lot of large animals to skin and butcher.

The small hole may be where the implement was “killed” to let its spirit go with its owner to the next world, when place in a burial. This is common here in the Southwest. Pots in burials have intentional holes in the bottom to let the spirit go.

blacksmith tool, ferrier tool You also had what was thought to be a “bullet mold,” which I think were actually farrier’s tongs, used in shoeing horses. Blacksmiths could hold the hot shoes while they are being formed on the anvil and in the forge. They do have a round hole in them, like a bullet mold; the hole lets the edges of the jaws of the tongs grip the shoe, rather than the middle, so it doesn’t twist around in the middle, giving more control. I have a similar pair, even with the same bend at the end of the handles. They were factory made around the end of the 19th century, and were in early Sears & Roebuck farrier’s kits. There is no sprue hole to pour lead in, as would be found in a bullet mold.

I am a retired Earth Science and metals teacher. I have made extensive studies of Indian artifacts and do blacksmith and wheelwright work. — John Cram, Fredonia, Ariz. 

civil war era bitQ Can you help us with this item? We have attended some appraisal groups and haven’t found anyone specializing in Civil War items in this area. Can you recommend someone if you don’t know about it?
— D.H., Decatur, Ill.

A There are a number of major Civil War-oriented groups. If someone can check on the Internet it shouldn’t be hard to track them down.

Although I don’t have a reference specifically on Civil War cavalry accessories, I did locate one book on Old West antiques that includes a section on bits. They did, in fact, show a bit very similar to yours that was dated to the Civil War era. Of course that doesn’t guarantee that yours is the same age. I believe I can see some impressed wording near the top edge of one side of your bit. That could be a great clue as to the age and origin of your piece. By the way, the Civil War bit I found was valued in the $300-$500 range.

vintage police call boxQ My husband got this police box 20 or 30 years ago from our son-in-law, a policeman. He got it at a police auction. I remember seeing these on telephone poles when I was 6 or 7 years old back in the early ’30s. This one is in good shape. We have the key, but not the phone that was inside. The color is deep orange. Maybe you can give me more information and a value.
— J.M., Mesopotamia, Ohio

A You have an interesting law enforcement-related collectible. This call box probably does date from the first half of the 20th century and would be of interest to collectors of law enforcement items. There isn’t a lot of information available on such items but it might make an interesting decorator piece and perhaps a new phone could be installed to make it practical as well as decorative. My best guess is that in the right market it might sell for $50-$100.

antique photo frameQ I am hoping you can tell me the value of this piece. It’s a photo of my grandfather, George W. Thomas (b. 1860, d. 1918). The frame was made circa 1900 when he was 40 years old.
— B.S., Abingdon, Va.

A Your gilt plaster oval frame appears to have curved glass in it and that would date it to the early 20th century. It appears to be a good size and in fine condition so I think it could be valued in the $100-$200 range. Of course, the photo of your grandfather is priceless.