Help with age, maker, type of stone and possible value of this Fish Effigy Pipe!
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Thread: Help with age, maker, type of stone and possible value of this Fish Effigy Pipe!

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  1. #1
    Charter Member
    us
    Jun 2013
    East Tennessee
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    Help with age, maker, type of stone and possible value of this Fish Effigy Pipe!

    Hey TNET Folks,

    I picked up a really nice Native American Indian Fish Effigy Pipe at an Coin and Native American Indian Relic Auction on Tuesday night that is apparently signed by the Native American who made it. I am hoping you knowledge folks in this forum can help me with the age, maker, type of stone and possible value of the pipe! This piece was noted in the Auction as being found in Greene County here in Tennessee and was likely found near or along the Nolichucky River. I am also wondering if this piece is Cherokee or from an earlier Tribe that lived in this same area??!! Any help would be truly appreciated!


    Frank

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  2. #2
    us
    Jun 2009
    Florida & Hong Kong
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    Short version: It doesn't look ancient to me.

    Long version: It is made from catlinite, which is from Minnesota (or Ontario, Canada.) The material was traded in prehistoric times, but usually only in a couple of styles of pipe. So the material is probably wrong for an animal effigy from Tennessee.

    The style is wrong for ancient or historic tribe made pipes from what I have seen. You can google Catlinite Fish Pipe to see some examples. Unlike coins almost every Native American relic is unique and handmade, but like coins most things follow certain styles. (If there is one, there should be others like it.)

    The other issue I see is the workmanship and carving. Even relatively close the quarries where the material was common, the workmanship is almost amateur. I know some guys who have practiced making pipes, and it's not hard to get better. (One of the members here has made turtles and other animals from a local, harder variety of pipestone and with practice they look pretty good.)

    Archaeologically the theory is that children apprenticed with adults for skilled crafts. A kid would handle a couple of steps in making something (my guess is the boring labor intensive stuff), and the adult would be there to get them by any problems they hit and handle anything too technical. The skill of carving was learned over time without wasting as much material.
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  3. #3
    Charter Member
    us
    Jun 2013
    East Tennessee
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshuaream View Post
    Short version: It doesn't look ancient to me.

    Long version: It is made from catlinite, which is from Minnesota (or Ontario, Canada.) The material was traded in prehistoric times, but usually only in a couple of styles of pipe. So the material is probably wrong for an animal effigy from Tennessee.

    The style is wrong for ancient or historic tribe made pipes from what I have seen. You can google Catlinite Fish Pipe to see some examples. Unlike coins almost every Native American relic is unique and handmade, but like coins most things follow certain styles. (If there is one, there should be others like it.)

    The other issue I see is the workmanship and carving. Even relatively close the quarries where the material was common, the workmanship is almost amateur. I know some guys who have practiced making pipes, and it's not hard to get better. (One of the members here has made turtles and other animals from a local, harder variety of pipestone and with practice they look pretty good.)

    Archaeologically the theory is that children apprenticed with adults for skilled crafts. A kid would handle a couple of steps in making something (my guess is the boring labor intensive stuff), and the adult would be there to get them by any problems they hit and handle anything too technical. The skill of carving was learned over time without wasting as much material.
    Thanks for the information!

    I don't have a clue as to whether the pipe is a genuine Native American Indian artifact or not and that is the reason I posted it here. I do know that the many Indian Tribes here intermingled with and traded with the Mississippian Indians, many tribes as far North as Michigan and maybe even Canada and West to at least the Mississippi River. There have been thousands upon thousands of Native American Indian artifacts found in Greene County and practically all of the counties in any direction due to the Nolichucky, French Broad, Clinch, Powell and Tennessee Rivers here as well as the many of the tributaries that flow into the aforementioned rivers. True artifacts found, date from mainly from the time of the Trail of Tears back many thousands of years and yes, Pre-Woodland and Prehistoric. Even some of the tribes that migrated here, came from around the Great Lakes and possibly even further North. I had looked up Catlinite but wasn't sure that the Pipe was carved from it. Although everything I have read points to Catlinite (Pipestone) deposits being only in Michigan and Ontario, I have seen deposits of similar stone/rock in Tennessee and North Carolina. Also, as far as workmanship is concerned, I have seen genuine specimens of effigy pipes and other items, that shown similar to less quality workmanship than my' Fish Effigy Pipe.

    I hope others will post their opinions whether positive or negative and I will likely take the specimen to a professional for an opinion.


    Frank
    Last edited by huntsman53; Feb 04, 2017 at 02:38 PM.

  4. #4
    us
    Apr 2013
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    From what I see it is Catlinite stone like Joshua said, it looks to be an effigy of a catfish to me. I have some concerns on it being very old, #1 NA did not sign their work as a norm, #2 the hole for a pipe stem looks real small, #3 pipes from prehistory sites in Green co. where made different, #4 the bowl does not have a tapered drill look to it like you would find on prehistory items. Maybe if we could get some better photos that are more in focus so we can enlarge them may help. If it is an original pipe then I would only date it around the early 1900's without looking closer at it. Photo's down at the top of the bowl and closer views of the carving lines would be great.
    Last edited by monsterrack; Feb 04, 2017 at 03:28 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Apr 2008
    Southern Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshuaream View Post
    Short version: It doesn't look ancient to me.

    Long version: It is made from catlinite, which is from Minnesota (or Ontario, Canada.) The material was traded in prehistoric times, but usually only in a couple of styles of pipe. So the material is probably wrong for an animal effigy from Tennessee.

    The style is wrong for ancient or historic tribe made pipes from what I have seen. You can google Catlinite Fish Pipe to see some examples. Unlike coins almost every Native American relic is unique and handmade, but like coins most things follow certain styles. (If there is one, there should be others like it.)

    The other issue I see is the workmanship and carving. Even relatively close the quarries where the material was common, the workmanship is almost amateur. I know some guys who have practiced making pipes, and it's not hard to get better. (One of the members here has made turtles and other animals from a local, harder variety of pipestone and with practice they look pretty good.)

    Archaeologically the theory is that children apprenticed with adults for skilled crafts. A kid would handle a couple of steps in making something (my guess is the boring labor intensive stuff), and the adult would be there to get them by any problems they hit and handle anything too technical. The skill of carving was learned over time without wasting as much material.

    I have to agree with Joshua. It looks like an amateur attempt to make a Pipe.

    These are the pieces Joshua referred to. I carved these out of local Pipestone from here in Scioto county Ohio. Some of it I did by hand but for the most part I used a Dremel.
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  6. #6
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    no real patina either.

  7. #7
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    I also wanted to show this Pipe that was a gift for my States Collection. This is from South Dakota and was made in the 40's or 50's according to the sender. You can tell this one has been handled quite a bit by the darker color that is all over the piece and it's made of the same material as yours, Catlinite. If you look at the lines in yours you can see they look a different, lighter color because they were made recently and it hasn't been handled much to get the patina the same. Mine shows the same dark color on the entire piece.
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  8. #8
    Charter Member
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    East Tennessee
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    I will post better pics in natural light whenever Mother Nature gives us some decent weather. There is plenty of patina as well as dirt and grime in the cut/carved grooves that did not show up in the first pics I posted. I grant you that the overall outside of the piece doesn't appear to show much patina but I would imagine that the previous owner cleaned it and the piece has likely been handled a lot. Who knows, it may have washed out during flooding and could have been found in gravels of the Nolichucky River, I just don't know the history of the piece but wish I did!!


    Frank

 

 

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