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The Many Patinas of Knife River Flint

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  • The Many Patinas of Knife River Flint

    Hey everyone. This write-up has to do with patination associated with Knife River Flint.
    Lately it hasn't been that bad but in the past year or two I've seen a few bogus Knife River Flint artifacts with terribly faked patina. It really bugs me that people try to sell these items off as real, even if they don't know they've got a bad artifact, so I'm going to list a few examples of real patination and a few pictures I saved over the years showing obviously fake patination.
    One of my favorite artifacts is a scraper with very unique flaking. With this item, the patination is heaviest along the flake scar ridges but is still fairly prominent in the shallows of the flake scars as well. (Picture 1-authentic) Something that I've seen in a few occasions but it is quite rare to see it to this extent. (Picture 2 - not authentic - notice fake chalky white patination with none on the flake scar ridges)
    A lot of times the artifacts I do come across with the heaviest levels of patination will be entirely white. It is usually even, across the whole face of the artifact. You will never see an artifact with one area on each face patinated entirely white and the rest of the surface that wasn't "patinated" being completely brown. (Picture 3-not authentic) Sometimes you'll get a point with nearly white patination covering an area on each face but at the same time the rest of the artifact that wasn't patinated white will at least be moderately patinated and be somewhat of a bluish brown color. (Picture 4- Authentic - Notice the white patina along a lot of the flake scar ridges)
    Another common form of patination is having one face patinated white and the opposite face being almost entirely brown in color, but in most cases having a white border around it's perimeter. (Picture 5- authentic Hell Gap from Mountrail County, ND) This is the result of the patina going all the way through the stone's surface along the edges where the point is almost always the thinnest.
    A person sometimes comes across KRF points that are spotted. I believe what that is the fossil inclusions in the stone more readily patinating than the rest of the surface. (Also Picture 4)
    I've also heard the argument before, quite a few times in fact, that an artifact made from KRF is not old/authentic because there is no patina on it. Definitely not the case......
    Many, many Folsom points from Mountrail County are completely brown with no traces of white patination anywhere on them. In contrast, I've also seen many small, Plains Side-notched points that are so heavily patinated that not only are they completely white in color, but they are also starting to fall apart. By that I mean the minerals have somewhat dissolved the rock in a way that flakes start coming off of the surface, somewhat similar to fire damage in appearance. (Picture 6- Besant Knife from Carter County, MT)
    So in the end, patination cannot always be the best way to tell if a KRF artifact is real or not. But, it can, in a lot of cases, tell you if one is fake.
    Disclaimer (Sort of): You may or may not have ever seen any of the photos (of the faked artifacts) I posted on this thread but if you have and know which sites they came from, I need to make it very clear that I am in no way trying to discredit the seller(s) selling these artifacts. The sites from which I got these photos almost always contain some of the best, authentic artifacts out there. In the end, someone is usually going to overlook something or just not know what they are dealing with.......which I, myself, have done a couple times in the past when purchasing artifacts from areas other than what I'm familiar with. And again, my message here is to hopefully educate, not to discredit anyone.
    I will try to keep adding new photos of different artifacts with varying patinations as time goes by.

    Here is a hide scraper, of which I found bth pieces which had been broken in ancient times. I recovered this scraper from one of the Hell Gap campsites I discovered a few years back. It is a really good representation of how age does not matter when it comes to patination. The working end has no patina what so ever and the end with the bulb of percussion is heavily patinated on both faces.

    Here are a couple more obvious fakes. (One picture is of the other side of the point in picture 2.)

    One more picture added of a "Clovis" point with fake white patination. Again, you will never see a KRF point with patination in the shallows of flake scars and not along the flake scar ridges at the same time.

  • #2
    Thanks for showing those. I am totally lost when it comes to Knife River knowing if its authentic or not. Thats why I stick to the midwest lol


    • #3
      Glad to help!  And if you ever come across an item that you'd like to acquire but are questioning it's authenticity, you can always send me a picture and I can try to help you out.  I'm not an "authenticator" but I've found and seen more than enough KRF artifacts to be able to tell if something is authentic or not. But when it comes to obsidian and some of the far east materials, I'm not so sure about what I should be looking for.  I try to stick to my area as far as collecting goes as well, but I have and am still acquiring Clovis points from Kentucky and Tennessee.  I really like the tan colored ones made from Ft. Payne chert and some of the ones made from Indiana Hornstone.  Beautiful stuff!


      • #4
        Really excellent post!!!!  Thanks for this specific information!


        • #5
          Thanks Steve!  I will probably try to add a few more High Plains specific articles, time allowing........(which at my job out here on the rigs, I sometimes have plenty of!)


          • #6
            Lots of good info in this post, thanks for the explanation. It made me pull out some krf scrapers I've got and give them a good looking over. I'm not concerned they're not authentic just interested in the patina differences, only 2 out of 12 have the white patina going on. Beautiful material.