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General Opinion on Catlinite Pipe - mid 1800's or modern

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  • General Opinion on Catlinite Pipe - mid 1800's or modern

    I am trying to get my feet wet with looking at Catlinite Pipes. Many have been marketed lately from dealers and some major auction houses. Many brought large sums of money - I was not content with what I saw or provenance in most - some were - in my totally novice opinion - good. These brought 5K and up. This is a dealer example - to me the file marks being stated as a bonus indicate more of a forgery. Am I correct in thinking that a true quality mid 1800's pipe would have those buffed out? The condition and color also lend me to think much more modern.

    Description:
    Antique Native American Catlinite Pipe with original wooden stem. This Antique Native American Catlinite Pipe is truly one of the best you will ever have a chance to own. This Original Native American Red Pipe is over 35" inches overall in length. The pipe alone is over 9" inches.
    This Antique Native American Catlinite Pipe has oral history of being a Chiefs Pipe and from the 1860s. I guarantee this Antique Native American Catlinite Pipe to be original and for sure 1870s Era. The original wood stem shows wonderful age and patina. The pipe bowl shows extremely nice age and usage. You can see the file work on the red pipestone. I love the patina and the perfectly aged coloration of the pipe.
    If you love Native American Relics this Antique Native American Catlinite Pipe should have you excited. I have never seen an example I liked better. I have seen similar examples $7,500.00 and up.

    Price is $4500.00

  • #2
    You might start by reading this thread, which has a wealth of excellent information largely provided by 'pkfrey'

    https://forums.arrowheads.com/forum/...atlinite-pipes


    Note: I believe the thread that the OP said that they had just read was this one, from our Information Centre, but wasn't that relevant to the discussion since it relates to fakery of much older pipes than the one you're showing here or the one referenced in the above thread:
    https://forums.arrowheads.com/forum/...strument-fakes
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have some contemporary Minnesota pipestone NA carved "t" pipes I have aquired from the makers and all have been used and I have carved a pipe for my personal use. The material is so soft they all show a nick or two on any square or exposed edge from use. I really doubt that a hundred year old pipe would make it through its life without some edge damage and scratches are easy to make. The wood stems are very easy to make with an "old look" too.
      For the kind of money the "old" ones go for exact authentication would be a must, but seldom is seen.
      Last edited by Rio Del Norte; 11-08-2019, 01:15 PM.
      Don't take for granted or misuse your lifetime membership to this planet.

      Comment


      • #4
        Paul Frey and his insight, web site, articles etc are a true treasure chest and an inspiration. I had read this one on the pipes and took it to heart. Paul's points are well structured and seem to point to a lot of modern pieces being marketed and 150+ years old Plains Indian - just generic. Even some of the large reputable auction houses are having Native American Artifacts and Art auctions quite frequently. The sheer amount of what seem to be top quality items - just simply cannot be true - reason would dictate that there were not that many items of this caliber and condition produced. Something that was ceremonial or utilitarian would be used and therefore deteriorated and worn. So much of the items I see are - nearly mint.

        Comment


        • Jethro355
          Jethro355 commented
          Editing a comment
          You are a quick study.👍👍

        • Havenhunter
          Havenhunter commented
          Editing a comment
          Buyers beware!

      • #5
        Collectors of Ancient Native American relics are usually different than collectors of Historic Native American art. You occasionally find an expert in both, but it isn't common. If you know ancient relics be cautious buying historic stuff because we tend to view it differently (over pay for something, not appreciate something else.) If you are a fan of historic items, the lack of provenance and history is tough with something that is technically prehistoric.

        When I was in college in Montana the archaeology lab had a great collection of both excavated and curated (made, used and passed down without being buried) catlinite pipes and the difference in patina between the types is significant. I don't collect historic catlinite pipes, but I've seen a lot of them and knew people that studied them.

        Excavated/field found- they can be historic or prehistoric and follow some pretty common styles (t pipe, disc pipes, tube pipes, larger hole stemless pipes, etc.) Catlinite is soft, chips pretty easily, and can lose it's polish over time. (A lot of collectors waxed pipes to bring the color back.) They look like a relic that has been buried for a long time. You can buy broken field found examples, and if you want to start those are a great place to start so you get a sense of what old looks like.

        On the curated items, you generally have three types of them.

        1. 1800's trade- A surprising number of them were made by European Americans for trade and use, but many were made by Native Americans as well. All of these tend to be sold as being from one of the Plains groups, even if they were made by a Swede from Minnesota. These include most of the highly ornate ones (animals, people with hats, angled drilling with plugs, lead/stone inlays, etc.) These tend to be the highest quality, and can show a lot of use- Lots of hand polish from being held, scuff marks if the user wore a ring, teeth marks on the wooden stem, lots of discoloration from being used, gouge marks in the bowl from being cleaned, polish where the stem meets the bowl where it was inserted and removed a bunch of times, etc. Catlinite and Meerschaum were basically higher end pipes while common people used pamplin pipes. They usually didn't come with a beaded bag, and the stem was often replaced over the life of the pipe (or cut to a shorter length.) Most of the file marks would be polished out, but occasionally you'll see repair work on them. You see a lot of them pop up in estates because great, great grandpa was a pipe smoker not because he was a buffalo hunter who traded with the Sioux. Skinner's and other gallery/auction sites have lots of them, you can get a decent example for a couple hundred dollars and they go up from there. The galloping horse type is a popular style.

        2. 1900's Reservation period for the tourist trade- These were made pretty quickly and were sometimes used by the buyer. Lots of these were sold in bundles with a beaded bag, and often have undocumented provenance of being from Sitting Bull, Lone Elk, Crazy Horse, etc. (or what ever the seller told the buyer.) Thousands of them were purchased at stops along the Empire Builder train route from Chicago to Seattle 1929-1950's or near Mount Rushmore on vacation road trips. These tend to be relatively lower value items, and not really well made. Sometimes people used them, but often they are unused. Occasionally the beaded bag can be spectacular and worth a lot more than the pipe.

        3. Native Made for Native Use- These tend to be heavily used, but are often plain T pipes. Some were personal use, some were group/ceremonial use. Some started life as prehistoric Mississippian pipes that ended up in Oklahoma as tribes from Ohio & Indiana were moved west (being passed down in families.) They are harder to pick out, but seem to be the ones that bring the most money. These were often purchased or taken from members of the Plains tribes during the treaty & reservation period or their family members years later, and in some cases removed from burials. Some of them are pictured with the original owner, gifted at ceremonies, gifted to generals, fur traders, etc. Small personal ones often reach the several hundred dollars. Get the right blend of documented history, some microscopic analysis, and Sotheby's can sell them for north of $10K, with a connection to a well known chief, you can go north of $100K. You generally won't see the high end ones for sale outside of specialized auctions or well known collections.

        Comment


        • Cecilia
          Cecilia commented
          Editing a comment
          This is fine stuff!

      • #6
        IDK a thing about the pipes, I’ve only found one broken one here and it was stone with incisions. I think the NA people here mostly did peyote buttons so they really didn’t need a bong .....!

        Comment


        • Rio Del Norte
          Rio Del Norte commented
          Editing a comment
          LOL...good point

        • Lindenmeier-Man
          Lindenmeier-Man commented
          Editing a comment
          I’m still looking for the other piece of that pipe....I’d show it too but it would take awhile to find somewhere in the mist !

        • Lindenmeier-Man
          Lindenmeier-Man commented
          Editing a comment
          Heck , I’ll look for it...

      • #7
        ​​

        That pipe isn't very old. The first thing that gives it away is how the surface still retains it's mirror like finish. That was probably done on a buffing wheel that created heat, and that's the white stuff you see in the grooves between the ridges. It's white dust from the polishing wheel that adheres to the surface from the heat created. This pipe is ca. 1870, and after years of handling, the ridges are now worn smooth, and on the one you posted, the ridges are flattened in several places, probably from the polishing wheel accidentally going across them. There would be a soft build up of dirt between the ridges, ( this one was cleaned for eye appeal, it shouldn't have been! ), all the cutting and gouging marks would have been buffed out using strips of Native tanned leather, sometimes with the addition of sand and water, and a lot of hot animal fat. This one has the nice uniform matte finish, with out any visible scratches and grooves. Under a scope or just a 10X loupe, this pipe would be scratched all over the place with Ghost scratches. For those not familiar with the term, look at a coin from your pocket change under a 10X loupe. Scratches aren't visible until they're magnified, hence the term " Ghost scratches". The one you have has intentional scratches that were just made at random with a sharp object to simulate use wear. Now there's more, but without the pipe in hand, I can't pick out the smaller details that would not be in a ca. 1860 - 1870 pipe. I did notice the bowl was cut off using a metal saw, maybe a bandsaw. This area should really be smooth. The stem, it's hard to see, but doesn't really look like it's to old. It doesn't have that nice brown, smooth finish that wooden stems have. Most of these stems were made from Ash. The bag isn't old. The way it's laying over that log implies it's very pliable, probably contemporary, commercially tanned buckskin. The beads may be vintage, but that's a problem. Vintage beads from the 1840s - 1880s can be purchased by the thousands. People who do restoration work on beaded items keep vintage beads on hand for replacement purposes. But, then what some do is take the vintage beads and use commercial buckskin to make all kinds of Plains Indian beaded accessories, that end up in the market. Native tanned buckskin and rawhide becomes very hard over time, from the moisture evaporating. Kind of like those dog bone things you can get at a pet store. Those long strands of buckskin hanging down are synthetically dyed and to soft to be 1870s, as well as the upper unbeaded part of the bag. The provenance? ORAL? That's like, my wife's cousin's nephew's son's grandfather's second wife owned this in 1873!! Oral provenance is ok if what is said can be verified by names, that must match up to the date of the item described. But normally, oral history is just that, a made up story. Chief who? I think, Chief Black and his brother, Decker!! P.S. On the stem of the one you posted, you can't see much in the picture of the original pipe and stem that I posted, but it does give you an idea of what a vintage, original stem should look like. A smooth golden to brown color, and absorbed into the wood, not just a varnished finish.
        Last edited by pkfrey; 11-08-2019, 11:45 AM.
        http://www.ravensrelics.com/

        Comment


        • Cmcramer
          Cmcramer commented
          Editing a comment
          PK is The Man.

        • pkfrey
          pkfrey commented
          Editing a comment
          Thx. Chris, but I am not " The Man. " There are a lot of people, many on this forum, who know a lot more than I do. I've been in this hobby for over 50 years, learning as I go, and try and pass what I've learned to someone else. And then I listen to another collector, and learn a little more about something I don't know a lot about. It's the fun part of the hobby, listening and learning, and self educate yourself every chance you get! The repro artists have cornered the market, so collectors need to be even more aware than they did 35 years ago. If you would ask me what my top, best advice would be to a newcomer? If you have an extra $200 to buy another artifact, buy a microscope instead. And learn how to use it. The repro problem will only get worse, and the only line of defense is self education, plus listening to some of the " Old Timers! "

        • Cecilia
          Cecilia commented
          Editing a comment
          PK, humility aside, you know you one o’ da “The Men”, thank goodness! Your time and hard work learning not unnoticed .....

      • #8
        Hey Hoss, My post was identified as spam, now I'm hungary for a sandwich!!! I've been spammed!!!!
        http://www.ravensrelics.com/

        Comment


      • #9
        Paul Frey your observations are priceless. When seriously thinking it through - and not going with the "I want to believe!" mindset - its easier to spot items that are not what they are reported to be. By the way - that $4500 is pipe ONLY that bag would probably be another $2K from that dealer. He deals in all relics - Native American Items are something he buys, collects, and sells - but I have to believe probably 95% of what he is buying is post 1900 tourist items or decoratve items - to possible deliberate fakes. That bag is not for sale that I know of and yes to me its an obvious newer more cheaply made beaded bag. I have met this dealer and have friends that know him very well - I don't think he is trying to deceive - but I think he is wading in waters where his knowledge is not where it should be. Civil War relics and firearms he knows backwards and forwards. If you go to gun shows, Civil War Shows, Military fairs, etc - you will see TONS of Native American items - moccasins, pipe bags, pipes, pipe tomahawks, etc - as you know all listed as late 1800's Plains Indian. This is why I have for the most part STAYED AWAY from Native American artifacts - arrowheads and excavated items included. Watching the big auction houses: Cowans, Heritage, Skinner etc - I even being a novice, see things that make me scratch my head. Pieces may come from a "well known collection" of a collector that collected from 1930 to 1990 - but to me look like 300 - 500 dollar pieces and they sell for 5K - 10K etc. That is such a travesty - but a real world fact - when people pour thousands of dollars down the drain on Re-enactor made pieces, fakes, and cheap tourist junk that somebody aged. I think Native American artifacts actually beat WW2 German militaria in the fakes category - and that is about as bad as it gets. Through this board I hope to find archeology shows, meet collectors of reputation, and get opinions on items before investing any money. I love Native American history and Georgia has such a rich, rich, rich heritage.

        Comment


        • pkfrey
          pkfrey commented
          Editing a comment
          The artifact reproductions have infiltrated every avenue of the market place, and I know some people who have become so discouraged, they just quit collecting. It's not so much a matter of years of experience, because people who have collected for only a few years won't have the experience. But it is a matter of education. People have got to start self educating themselves on what they collect, or stop until you have the education to proceed. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every year on reproductions, and many are based on the COA and opinion business. The repros will not stop until people stop buying. It's not really rocket science, but I see people not taking the time and putting the effort into learning anything. The learning process is more fun that the actual collecting! Finding out how a certain culture made their stone artifacts, how the Plains Indians stitched their beaded accessories, how pipes were made, what are concentric waves, oxidation, the blade and core industry, etc., etc. When a person can take a single flint artifact, and talk about it for fifteen minutes, that person has learned something about artifacts. This hobby is a life long learning experience, but it takes time and effort. I've been collecting for 57 years, and every time I see a new collection, I learn something new. The satisfaction of learning something new is the driving force that keeps the passion in you to keep collecting. And, use a lot of common sense and logic sometimes. Like this pipe you posted, what the heck is Oral Provenance it belonged to a Chief!! How vague is that!!

      • #10
        I've made a pipe or two from Catlinite, and Paul is right, too shiny to be old. Don't give up looking!
        "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

        Comment


        • #11
          Great Post. Saw this last week. Decided to share/dig out my Circa 1880’ Catlinite Pipe. Thanks to PK for his input. There’s a bunch of great folks here that have combined years of experience and just plain hospitality to help folks learn. A little background on this Relic. It’s very special to me. My father received it from a woman who passed away few years back in her 90s. Her and her husband lived near the Klamath Indian Reservation from the Early 60s to mid 70s. They were friends with a few families and Elders of the tribe. This was gifted to Her by an Elder. The Klamath tribe is the most South western of the Plateau Culture. The Pipe was possibly traded across trade routes of the plains through the Shoshone Country of Idaho into North Eastern Oregon to the Klamath. This Pipe is very unique in that it’s Long Stem is Carved from Catlinite also. That’s very rare. Quite a work of Art. It’s a huge pipe. I’ve seen old photos of wood stems similar but smaller. I’ve only seen one Antique photo of a First Nations person holding what appears to be a large Carved Catlinite stemmed’ Pipe like this. As you can see the Pipe stem is cracked in one spot and the Reed was broken on one end. My father left it as is and so shall I. Hope you enjoy! SHJ

          Comment


          • pkfrey
            pkfrey commented
            Editing a comment
            And what a remarkable pipe that is! And it fits all the criteria I was trying to explain. You can see how the once polished surface on the pipe bowl is now faded by use, by the oils in peoples hands and fingers creating a now smooth matte finish. And it has the smoothed, nice contoured look around the ridges, and you don't see enhanced grooved tool marks. They were polished out a long time ago. And there's the presence of nicks and dings where the pipe was used and recieved a little bit of abuse, enough to scar the surface in random places. When a catlinite pipe is old and vintage, it will simply show that, and is very visible with out a lot of examining. The native put a lot of time into making this because it was special. Pipes are one of the most important items an Indian will make and use. Good for you, you have a beautiful pipe!!!
            Last edited by pkfrey; 11-14-2019, 08:43 PM.

        • #12
          Thanks PK. Really appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot from knowledge and input on this post and many others as well

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