Tuesday, May 26, 2020

2020 CLA Live Auction: PIPE TOMAHAWK By Simeon England, Mike Miller, and Kyle Willyard

Length 21 1/2" Head 5 1/2" tall.
The name tomahawk is a combination of tribal and English words. Algonnquin and Renapepeoples called their lightweight axes "tamahak," "tamahakan" European Americans pronounced these words as "tomahawk." They liked the size and weight of the original tool, but made their own adaptation by replacing the stone heads with iron heads having steel blades. Tribes who had never seen a tool with a wooden handle and metal head called it a tomahawk, adopting the European American's term.
In the early 1700s, Native Americans or European Americans adapted the original tomahawk into a new form known as the pipe tomahawk. The original tomahawk is an Indian tool with a wooden handle and a metal blade. What differentiates a regular tomahawk from a pipe tomahawk is its head, which consists of a cutting edge on one side and a pipe bowl on the other. Pipe tomahawks could be used for smoking and chopping when necessary, but they usually were more symbolic than practical.
Pipe tomahawks also are a mix of Old World and New World products. The majority of these tools were made in North America. Their handles are of native woods and their axe blades were metal. Blades were usually iron with a steel cutting edge or, if not intended for cutting, they were made of brass. Some of the heads and handles were decorated with silver, pewter, lead, brass, and copper inlays.
European Americans traded pipe tomahawks with native peoples during the fur trade era, from about 1650 to 1870. European Americans also presented pipe tomahawks as gifts in diplomatic agreements and treaty signings with tribes. Joseph Brandt was painted with one in his 1776portrait by George Romney; Tecumseh had one presented to him by Colonel Proctor. Lewis and Clark took 50 pipe tomahawks with them on their 1803-1806 expedition to trade or present as gifts.
When three noted CLA blade artisans get together on a project, it is certain something special will result. This year Simeon England, Mike Miller and Kyle Willyard have produced an outstanding pipe tomahawk. Historically correct in its features and embellishment, this is a significant display of exceptional work of these three talented artists.
As you can see from the photos, this pipe tomahawk is created with the correct architecture and materials. The knife inlay on the right side of the blade on the hand forged head is historically correct, appearing on an original pipe tomahawk attributed to John Small of  Vincennes. Sterling silver has been used for the haft cap, mouthpiece and inlay and the engraving is ‘top drawer’. The haft is a fancy piece of curly maple and features a flange for a wrist strap. Look closely at the attention to detail, including the engraved silver mouthpiece and the carved wood clean-out plug.

The CLF Live Fund Raising Auction has a history of offering fine presentation pipe tomahawks, but they do not come up every year. This is one of that select group and this year is your chance to own one.


This horn was on display in Fort Pitt's exhibit "From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America" between July 1 and December 31, 2018. This is one of only three known Fort Pitt horns by the noted artist known as the "Pointed Tree Carver". Walter stated "this professionally engraved horn depicts that indomitable English stronghold, Fort Pitt, here labeled 'PITSBOURG' in a banner, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they form the great Ohio, which is also depicted and labelled "OHIO / RIVER". Also shown is the British Great Seal, and a hunter shooting at a grazing buck. Undated, but of the 1760's. The horn has a short extended lobe with one hole for a carrying strap and a modest vase shaped spout. It is also fitted with a flat, wooden plug. Overall, this curved horn measures 14 -1/2 " overall. For another similar example, see plate 83 of John DuMont's book "American Engraved Powder Horns". 

CONDITION: Horn retains a dark undisturbed patina. The back side shows heavy carry wear and is worn smooth. Some chipping to relief rings below spout. Pressure fitted plug is loose and shows some chipping. A very rare French and Indian War Pennsylvania horn with a nice untouched surface.

Minimum Bid: $7,500.00

Current Bid: $7,500.00

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000

Number Bids: 1

Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

Happy Memorial Day
Thank you to all those who have given their lives in the service of our country.
JUNE 2, 1917
OCT 24, 1944


Photograph by Jan Riser.

"Into the Bluegrass" by Mel Hankla

The new publication  "Into the Bluegrass" by Mel Hankla is a grand visual and literary compilation of Kentucky folk art and Kentucky history.
With wonderful stories and artifacts, the author has seamlessly unified Kentucky as the background of a truly original American culture. 
Hardbound 330 pages.

Robert Weil

Friday, May 22, 2020


This horn is illustrated and described on pages 202 & 203 of "For Liberty I live" by Al Benting. Simon Stimson was born in 1756 and was enlisted in the 5th Company (Tolland, Connecticut) of General Joseph Spencer's 2nd Connecticut Regiment, raised from the eastern parts of the colony. Colonel Spencer and detachments of the 2nd were engaged at Bunker Hill and in Benedict Arnold's Quebec Expedition. The regiments enlistment expired in December of 1775, but Stimson served until 1782. The horn itself has a curved body of about 16" overall. The conacle spout section is followed by a set of double relief rings with serrated edges. The main body has a scalloped edge and depicts three naval vessels, one twelve gun with a British flag, behind two smaller unmarked vessels. Below them is a depiction of six fish and mammals including two eels, three fish, and a shark preparing to consume one of the fish. Above the owner's inscription there is a depiction of a New England town thought by the author to be Cambridge, Massachusetts showing Harvard Hall and Massachusetts Hall with a depiction of a large tree thought to be the elm under which Washington took command. There is also a depiction of a man's head smoking a pipe, possibly depicting George Washington facing away from headquarters, where nothing is happening. On the back there is a large tree that appears to bare fruit. Under which there is a depiction of a bare breasted woman and a gentleman. The professional inscription reads "Simon Stimson's Horn 1775". 

CONDITION: Horn is very good overall, with some of the engraving worn from carry and showing some scattered marks from use overall. The convex wooden plug has a screw in the center for carrying strap attachment. Horn retains a pleasing honey patina overall.

Minimum Bid: $2,500.00

Current Bid: $5,500.00

Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000

Number Bids: 5

Copy and photos from here.