Spot the Repro: Native American pipe tomahawks

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Pipe tomahawks were commonly traded in the  18th and 19th centuries between tribes and European settlers. They were not a native weapon but they were eventually incorporated into the Apache culture.  These usually had a pipe-bowl carved into the poll, and a hole drilled down the center of the shaft for smoking tobacco.

Some were carved from polished soapstone and used in rituals. Unique to North America, they are powerful symbols of the choice Europeans and Indians faced whenever they met: one end was the pipe of peace, the other an axe of war, according to  Blade Magazine (F+W Media). Eric Bradley

tomahawk 1. This “Bat Wing” cut out pipe tomahawk measures 27 inches long and is decorated with brass. It was offered in 2008 at an auction in Findlay, Ohio.
tomahawk 2. This pipe features an oak haft (shaft) and is decorated in brass tacks with a pewter mouthpiece. It was offered in 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
tomahawk 3. This Western Plains pipe tomahawk has an incised blade and was offered in 2007 in North Canton, Ohio.
tomahawk 4. A simple brass pipe tomahawk measuring 21 5/8 inches long features an inlaid pipe stem. It was offered in 2007 in Findlay, Ohio.
tomahawk 5. This 21 inch iron pipe tomahawk is decorated in brass tacks. It was offered at a 2009 auction in Findlay, Ohio.

Can you spot the reproduction which sold for far less than the others? Scroll down for values and to learn which of these tomahawks is real and which one is a contemporary reproduction.

Photos courtesy LiveAuctioneers

1. This “Bat Wing” cut out pipe tomahawk is authentic and was sold by Old Barn Auction.
2. The brass tacks were a nice touch but it doesn’t help that this is a later creation. This repro was sold by Cowan’s Auction and was appropriately labled as a repro prior to the sale.
3. Made for the Western Plains in 1900, this pipe tomahawk is the real deal. It was sold by Homestead Auctions.
4. The brass inlaid was added to dazzle its recipient and one buyer was willing to buy it for $1,500 from Old Barn Auction.
5. This monster is also decorated with brass tacks like the repro above, but this one was made circa 1900 for trading. It was sold by Old Barn Auction.


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