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Old 30th January 2020, 02:50 PM   #1
RSWORD
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Default Requesting information on trade axe

Looking for opinions on this axe. No markings. Plenty of pictures but happy to provide any additional information to help ID it. Many thanks in advance.
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Old 30th January 2020, 02:51 PM   #2
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Some additional photos.
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Old 1st February 2020, 07:59 AM   #3
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Default Nice!

Hello Rick! Good to see you on this half of the Forum for a change! I would agree first of all that this is indeed a trade spike hatchet, or tomahawk. Just like boarding axes, there might be differing opinions about camp axes, fire axes, etc, but I feel confident that this is a trade piece. The 'bearded' blade form were popular pre-1850 and I feel comfortable saying yours is in the 1830's-50's range. There were bearded axes from the earlier periods, certainly, but yours is more refined and modern than those. Spanish trade pieces were the start of this form (crescent shaped edge). Post-1850 axe heads were cast pieces usually with the makers on them. This was because the U.S. government started demanding that these cast 'tools' be so marked to make sure they weren't sold to Native Americans to be used as weapons. Many of the tool makers ignored the law, still made cast spike head axes and sold them to the Indians! Yours looks hand forged and certainly not one of the 'tool' patterns. Cast heads started as early as the 1830's, with so called trip-hammer examples, so it still might be cast. The shape of the head is amazing and I've actually seen others that closely resemble this pattern. Check out Hartzler's book on tomahawks and you'll see several like yours.

It is important to remember that 'tomnahawks', (as they were first called when the white explorers first stated coming to America) were an important tool and weapon of the early frontier. The classic pipe tomahawk came much later into the early 19th c. The fur traders carried them throughout the Hudson River valley and colonial soldiers also. The spike-types were also popular with Native Americans and that book I mentioned has old tintype pics of native chiefs armed with them. Of course, without provenance, all we can say is that it is a spike ax/tomahawk like the type used by all the above mentioned. The hole near the butt would probably have had a lanyard to wrap around the wrist.

These types are becoming harder and harder to find and capture great prices! I am envious of your find, my friend!

Mark

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Old 1st February 2020, 05:58 PM   #4
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Thank you Mark for all the information. Much appreciated!
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Old 2nd February 2020, 01:50 AM   #5
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No problem! And if you decide you don't like it any more, I'll be happy to take it off your hands!
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Old 2nd February 2020, 11:36 AM   #6
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Hi Rick
Your axe has many similar features to boarding axes and even without langets I thought it a possibility so I'm glad Mark has identified it. I have been looking into US boarding axes recently and it has led me to the link with tomahawks.

Existing in the same time period and sharing a lot of features spike tomahawks have much in common with boarding axes, not least the name which is also used for naval axes.
Some think that the boarding axe was copied from the spike tomahawk and others the reverse. In any event boarding axe heads have occasionally been found in Indian graves.

Can you post the measurements of the axe? Is that a metal pin going down into the eye, at one end, to assist in holding the head in place?

Regards.
CC
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Old 3rd February 2020, 03:41 AM   #7
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Excellent points, CC. I also forgot to ask the dimensions of the piece. Although it seems strange, some of these trade pieces could even reach the "presentation" quality range, with brass inlays, decorative elements to the haft, etc, when offered for trade.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 01:07 PM   #8
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The axe measures 22 5/8" from bottom to tip. The axehead is 11 1/2" across from spike to crescent. The crescent is 4" wide. There is not a metal pin at the eye. The wood has some chips which give this appearance.

Thanks again for all the information.
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