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A CURIOSITY  DISPLAY

OF ANCIENT NORTH AMERICAN ARTIFACTS

 CIRCA. 1890

This frame was assembled in the late 1890's or turn of the century. The family that owned it consigned it to Cornerstone Auction Gallery in Rhode Island in 2006. I purchased the frame the same year from Brant Mackley, a reputable dealer from Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I went back to the auctioneer and tried everything to get more information from the family through the auctioneer about the frame but all the family would say is that their great-grandfather was an "archaeologist" and was associated with Harvard but they would not divulge his name. That is all we could find out. Several other very nice ethnographic pieces were auctioned at that time from the same family.
This extraordinary frame of artifacts was probably assembled just prior or at the turn of the twentieth century. The frame, float glass, green felt backing and hardware are good indicators supporting this conclusion. The original string holding the artifacts onto the felt is also period correct. Observe the original felt color under the artifacts is much brighter than the exposed field to daylight over the last century.
Some of the points have fallen from the frame as the old silk(?) thread has broken. They can be seen at the bottom of the frame before opening it. After removing the back, we took a photo with everything in position. Four points had fallen to the bottom of the frame. The points are shown in the photographs at the bottom of the frame before I opened the frame and then again on the table in front of the mount after removing the backboard mount from the frame.
A wide variety of artifacts from across the North American continent are well displayed in this mission style frame. Many points have provenience in pencil on them directly or on original labels. Example, the beautiful bigger Hardin is marked Calhoun County, Illinois.
Personally, I am a collector of California and Great Basin artifacts and question the correctness of a few of the obsidian points. The only pieces that concern me are some obsidian pieces that the "archaeologist" who assembled the frame must have received from some ill-gotten source. As this was assembled over a century ago this seems quite plausible as little was known about what west coast artifacts should look like but everything else is authentic. The three obsidian pieces marked, “Indian Knives, Northern California” are quite questionable as ancient. But, please note the two obsidian Northern side-notch points flanking the classic and outstanding white Hardin Barb point. (These points are third to the right and second to the left of the Hardin in the top-center of the frame.)  These points are classic and assuredly authentic. Some of the small obsidian points in lower left have also been embellished. The Hardin barb points in the center of the frame are about as good as they come. A wonderful variety of super points are represented from much of north America.
I have taken the frame to well-known authenticator Ben Stermer of Western Typology. Beside the points that had previously fallen from their string mounts, Mr. Stermer removed specific points for close examination.  Mr. Stermer also made the same conclusions as to authenticity of the artifacts, that several small obsidian points have been reworked a century ago. But please be advised this frame is as assembled in the 1890’s.

 

PHOTOS OF THE ORIGINAL "INTACT" COLLECTION DISPLAY

   
         
   
Click on each Photo set above for an enlarged view        

 


 

 
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