Lot 17

C. 1860-70 Pawnee War Tomahawk w/ Teeth Drop

Estimate: $8,000 - $11,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $5
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$25,000 $2,500
$100,000 $5,000
This is a fantastic rare circa 1860’s to 1870’s Missouri War Axe Tomahawk from the Pawnee Indians of Kansas. The piece is comprised of a hand-forged iron head with rare Buffalo Bison head effigy cutout (cut out) at the center along with two six-pointed star cutouts below just above the blade. The head has an oblong round eyelet hole with four filed ridges being secured to the wood haft with a leather hide gasket and solid brass trade tacks. The dark solid wood haft has a deep, shiny chocolate patina from honest age and use and is decorated with bands of solid brass trade tacked design. Just below the gripping area is a pierced hole holding the rare drop. The drop consists of old crenshaw twine, old tarnished brass trade beads and 18 human teeth, below there are two hand rolled tin jingle dangle cones at the base with old human hair plume fringes attached. This type of human teeth drop has been documented on other Pawnee attributed tomahawks, war clubs and lance poles by tomahawk shcolars and authors Peterson, Baldwin, Francis etc… The Pawnee were brutal killers and were known to mutilate the bodies of their war victims and make necklaces / drops from fingers, ears, teeth, hair and scalps. The tomahawk war club head has a larger wide triangular shape and is considered to be a "Missouri War Axe" a term coined by American Indian weapons collectors to describe this particular style of tomahawk. They were first discovered by Lewis & Clark on their 1804-1805 expedition financed by Thomas Jefferson, which sent them exploring up the upper Missouri River basin. Meriwether Lewis wrote about these weapons and sketched one in his journal, stating that the local Indians were fervently requesting the expedition blacksmith to make additional examples for them. He went as far as to state that it was the only item the Indians were willing to trade corn, grain and other expedition necessities for and that manufacture, and trade of additional axes is what solely got the explorers through the winter of 1805. Only a small handful of tribes were known to have used this style of tomahawk and in only one specific region. They were made in small numbers, making early surviving examples such as this extremely rare and historically important. The tomahawk war club shows some minor nicks, dings and scratches to the haft indicative of honest age and use and overall has a nice patina. Provenance: From the ex-collection of Cyrus Eaton of London, England, according to his collection log book Eaton purchased the tomahawk from a dealer at the Whitehawk Indian Show in Santa Fe, New Mexico circa 1992. The head measures 8”L by 4.75”W across the bottom of the blade. The tomahawk itself measures 22”L without the drop.