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  • Bannerstone Fakes

    Some pointers on what to look for in authentic and fake bannerstones plus some fake examples, followed by some authentic ones:
    Bannerstone comprehension

    In ancient Europe and Asia, important persons often carried an ornamented staff. The finial atop their staff is similar to the design of some "Bannerstones" found in North America; hence the name. Many early archaeologists adopted this name to describe this category of artifacts. Warren K. Moorhead, famous archaeologist of the late 1800's simply preferred to call them "problematicals".

    Bannerstones are found in an area east and slightly west of the Mississippi River from Maine to Florida. The main concentration of highly developed forms is located in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It is postulated that the original primary forms developed in the deep south. Most Bannerstones found in the past have been surface finds. However, recent archaeological discoveries and illegal excavations for profit ventures have revealed the inclusion of bannerstones with persons of high rank as a special mortuary trait that developed during the long (6000BC-1000BC) archaic time period.

    Concerning the use of Bannerstone forms, some modern archaeologists agree with the theories of Dr.Webb, who discovered a number of primary form bannerstones associated with burials at the famous Indian Knoll site in central Kentucky. He discovered bannerstones that were in near alignment with the remains of the spear thrower distal end and its bone handle. The "atlatl" is a primitive spear thrower device used to propel spears or darts. The hook or distal end seats into a cavity in the spear shaft. The stone projectile was attached at the opposite end of the spear shaft. A number of scientific experiments have proven that a simple primary form of bannerstone could be used for this purpose.

    As for the more highly developed and delicate forms, a theory was introduced that these designs were strictly for ceremonial use. Today, many disagree with Dr.Webb's theory as those "Bannerstones" which have small 7/16" or 3/8" perforations would necessitate the use of a small size shaft. This small diameter shaft would not stand up to the rigors of the forced snap of the atlatl.

    No two bannerstones are identical, however particular designs and types can be assembled into specific categories for purposes of identification. Most bannerstones share common characteristics. Most are centrally perforated, having a slightly tapering hole ranging from 1/4" to 3/4" in diameter. The average perforation is approximately 1/2" in diameter. Experiments conducted with a stone age drilling apparatus revealed that as the drilling sub-stance/material continually wore away with each revolution, the hole would naturally taper. Bannerstones were perforated with flint drills, solid sticks, hollow reeds and possibly sel-ected animal bones of a specific diameter and consistency. A number of unfinished specimens support this evidence. Some device was used for perforation (possibly a bow drill) and with the addition of quartz sand and grease as a lubricant; such a device would have served as a reasonable reliable perforator.

    Material selected for making bannerstones varies with particular styles. Late archaic Hourglass, BiPenate Butterfly, and Bottle types are typically made of ferruginous quartzite. Spotted granite, porphyry, diorite, gabbro and trap rock were used in manufacturing of wing forms and some primary bannerstone forms. The fragile notched Butterflys, Knobbed Lunates and Double Crescents were exclusively made from a high quality banded slate.

    Ancient man had a sequence in the manufacturing of bannerstones that is never followed by those who produce fraudulent reproductions. Following the sel-ection of a suitable stone or pebble; ancient man roughly chipped and fractured the raw material to form a blank. This blank was further reduced by the reduction pecking process with a hand held hammer to obtain the final shape. Then the object was ground and polished. Normally, the perforation of the hole was the final stage. It was during this final stage that many bannerstones were damaged or broken, and rejected. Modern experiments conducted on hard quartz-like materials have required more than 200 hours of drilling time to finish a perforation.

    Because bannerstones have always been prized, this category of artifact has been extensively reproduced. Designs which produce the highest values are primary targets of the replicator.

    By 1950, reproductionists entered the bannerstone reproduction business in a wholesale manner. The increased production of fraudulent specimens flooded the collector market. For a while the market was dumfounded, until it discovered that makers had used the wrong materials and had made replicas better than those made by ancient man. Enter the era of the "ugly" bannerstones. Since the market rejected overworked repros of the wrong materials, it was determined to make the replicas look old and weathered; achieved by chemical ageing and artificial weathering. Stone workers learned to use proper materials so their replicas might appear correct to the viewer. Shortcuts in manufacturing techniques always trap the faker. Some makers have resorted to shipping proper materials with blueprints to a cheap labor market south of the border. Again, the majority of the reproductions in the marketplace are recognized for what they are - simply reproductions! Reproductionists always leave some clue of their handiwork which reveals the truth.


    Facts about Fakes
    Pg.29,Vol.XIX, No.2, 1985, "Prehistoric Artifacts"

    I have elected to continue discussion on the "Ground Stone" tradition because so many artifacts were made in that manner. "Ground Stone" covers Pipes, Birds, Gorgets, Banners, Boatstones, Bars, Pestles, Celts, Spuds , Axes to name a few. This tradition began in the Archaic period, immediately following Plano and lasted right up into proto-historic times. About the only thing that isn't part of the ground stone tradition is Flint and Pottery. And if you consider ground limestone or shell as tempering ingredients, pottery might be considered part of this methodology.





    For your viewing displeasure, this time we present a "Bannerstone" reproduction. This particular example is very good workmanship. Fortunately, the pattern is not quite right. The slate material chosen has nice banding and even a natural fault line. The color is beautiful green/gray/black and heavily banded. As I look across the wings of this "Butterfly", the wings appear to line up precisely. Authentic ones don't.

    That's because each wing was worked independently in ancient times. There are sharp delineation of the planes, these are giveaways of modern man. The notches are absurd, ancient man sawed notches. The fake maker that dishonored this artifact must have heard about pecking. He even pecked the notches! Ancient man did not.





    While great criticism has been rendered on this "high priced" fake, I should pay tribute to the best part of the deceit. That is the hole! It is tapered and features concentric rings of the ancient style of drilling or a reasonable facsimile. I see novice collectors examining the hole of "Fakes". What is the point if the patterns and workmanship of the piece is highly questionable? But, if the maker was a diligent about the pattern and workmanship of the exterior as was the hole, maybe I wouldn't be able to write this article. P.S.The surface has no patination. And did I say it was "high priced". I consider $500 a high price for a fake. Then maybe it is cheap, when you consider an authentic specimen would cost more.


    "Facts about Fakes"
    Pg.29,Vol.XIX, No.3 1985,"Prehistoric Artifacts"

    While it has been stated many times that Fakes and reproductions of North American Indian artifacts has a history of some one hundred and fifty years plus; many serious collectors are truly concerned about the modern proliferation of new reproductions and fakes. Indeed, all of us need be deeply concerned. Because there are more workshops turning out spurious items today than at any time in the history of artifact preservation. The primary difference between today's reproductionist and many years past is the fact that today, proper materials are being utilized for manufacturing.

    We have attempted to expose this disease through words and illustration with the hope that the masters of deceit will enjoy a more difficult profit in the future. Let us cite some recent examples that have shown up at recent meetings and shows.

    One popular item that appeals to serious collectors is the bannerstone. Especially those examples of beautiful and attractive hardstone. In early spring, several dealers displayed Ferruginous Hourglass and Bottle bannerstone styles. All were perfectly made and priced attractively about $350 to $375 each depending on the quality of workmanship. To the inexperienced person, these offerings seemed like true bargains and a once in a lifetime opportunity. No so. Any experienced person knows that authentic specimens will bring $1500 plus for the real thing. Dealers with such offerings are invariably always looking for an opportunity to cash in on ignorance.

    While archaeological shows have ample shares of such bogus material; Flea markets and Antique shows are a real haven. A new collector was recently stung on an assortment of this type of junk. Here we are featuring a photo of the sting. Behold the fabulous "Knobbed Crescent" of attractive Blue/Gray and Black banded slate. The photo well illustrates this modern reproduction. Note that it features a raised ridge parallel to the central perforation. While the outline of this modern fake is reasonably accurate, the work lines are incorrect.





    Had the manufacturer worked all patterns correctly and attempted to simulate patination and age; many advanced collectors might have taken a chance on this colossus. As part of a package deal, this item was offered and sold at $375. During the past two years several specimens with true authenticity have sold in excess of $2500 each.
    With each new day, someone some-where makes new attempts to deceive his fellow man, and it won't stop tomorrow.


    Questionable Bannerstones



    Fig. FB#1 This Bipenate Quartz Butterfly is reasonably correct, but the wings are rounded greater than on ancient ones, plus they line up directionally, the perforation is without taper, finish is wheel polished. Sold @ $1500-2000



    Fig. FB#2 Simulating a single face Hourglass bannerstone, the most obvious mistake is the finish, it is sandblasted to give the appearance of having been weathered. The perforation is without taper. Sold @ $900-1200.



    Fig. FB#3: This attempt to duplicate a Saddle face Hardstone Bannerstone of Black -and- White granite failed because the finish is typical of the microwave specials made during the 1960-1970's. Sold @$600-700.



    Fig. FB#4 This early Shuttle Type southern Bannerstone is well known in many collections of the Deep South. The perforation is straight through which cracked the artifact, but the material is wrong as it is too reddish and fresh; it has not seen any time in antiquity. Sold @ $400-600.



    Fig. FB#5: A Bi-face Bottle Bannerstone type from the midwest convinced many expert collectors it was authentic, however the perforation countersink and the mellow machined buffed finish revealed otherwise. The rounded appearance of the stem is wrong. Sold @ $1150-1600



    Fig. FB#6: Duplicating a Southern primary form of Bannerstone found in a river, this artifact failed the test as the weathering was from an acid bath and the lines of the banner were incorrect. Sold @$350-450



    Fig. FB#7: This Wisconsin Wing form Bannerstone almost slipped by into authentic history, but for the fact the use of artificial ageing and the wings lined up perfectly, when viewed from end to end. The gently rounded wing ends didn't seem quite appropriate. Sold @ $3200-3500



    Fig. FB#8: Knoblock showed only a couple of this type, as it is a rare form of banded slate and a uniface type. A clever slate reproductionist from the Ohio valley is probably the maker. The finish is wrong as are the terminal ends which have been wheel polished. Sold @ $1800-2000.



    Fig. FB#9: The material used to make this reproduction was highly infrequent. Flourite/fluorspar; a soft clear purplish material was certainly pretty, but not normal for ancient Banners. Sold @ $750



    Fig. FB#10: This absurd form has no counterpart in the Bannerstone transition of antiquity. It is supposed the replicator had only pictures in an old published book for guidance. Sold @$250-475.



    Fig. FB#11: This hardstone travesty was apparently an inspiration to its maker, but it should have been recognized for what it is at first glance. The deeply fluted ridges next to the barrel is a giveaway. Sold @ $750-850



    Fig. FB#12: This uni face Hinge type is highly attractive with its spotted porphyry material and its luster of high wheel polish, but the material alone is wrong for the type. This is probably a replica of the mid '70's. Sold @ $650-900



    Fig. FB#13: Material seems to be the most prominent mistake of most pre-1990 reproductions. This jasper like hardstone is very attractive which is why the maker chose it, but it is wrong for an Hourglass. Sold @ $1100-1450



    Fig. FB#14: Material is not the problem here, nor is the shape or the subtleties of manufacturing as this is probably a 1990's reproduction. The perforation tripped up the maker who used a tapered reamer for the hole, then a high number thread tapper for the rings. Sold @ $500



    Fig. FB#15: Again the famous strange Gray Green stone finds a prospect the same way as does this strange Bannerstone design. Supposedly to simulate a notched slate butterfly, the style is totally wrong as is the material. Sold @ $750-850



    Fig. FB#16: More than often, material is the culprit, as repro artists often used what was available. Reddish claystone is wrong for a panel style generally found in the midwest. The finish is strange too. Sold @ $450-600



    Fig. FB#17: This monstrosity has everything going against it. We suppose no one really knows what it's to be, the soft material says no. Most of all, there are no such counterparts in Bannerstone antiquity. Sold@ $385



    Fig. FB#18: The large size of this Hourglass type dual-face Bannerstone reproduction, coupled with the gaudy purple, gray and pink hardstone surely was responsible for it getting a home. Sold @ $1200-1800



    Fig. FB#19: This bottle banner of creamy white quartz is more than an atrocity, it features a cartoon face of its ex-owner, who was also responsible for having it made; the finish and work is incorrect. Sold @ $2500-3000



    Fig. FB#20: Supposedly a highly developed form from the Northeast but it is not right. It has been subjected to a weathering process of acid and other ageing techniques, and the lines are wrong. Sold @ $200



    Fig. FB#21: Eastern coastal Bannerstones always end up in mid-western collections, and normally they are not correct. This whale-tail from New Jersey, wrong in workmanship and finish. Sold @$650-825



    Fig. FB#22: Microwave magic did not help this Saddleface triangular form with age cracks, nor did the acid bath give it the right type of age, and it has the wrong lines. Sold@ $950-1100



    Fig. FB#23: Bannerstones are never made of Conglomerate, but the novice doesn't know so this pretty replica of something like an Hourglass found a home with someone. Sold @ $2500-3000



    Fig. FB#24: H.C.Wachtel would turn in his grave if he knew this was attributed to his collection. He didn't use the Dymo label and he didn't enter the fake plow scar or edge nick on this absurd type of butterfly bannerstone reproduction. Sold @ $1400-1600



    Fig. FB#25: Notched Ovates of slate are one of the premium styles that appeal to collectors and few own a single example. Unfortunately this one is made wrong in the notches and finish. Sold@ $2750-3500



    Fig. FB #26: Part of the Mississippi Valley Crescent typology, this one will not make the grade. It has been lightly sandblasted overall to achieve a smooth pecked and polished look. Sold @ $600-800



    Fig. FB#27: Another quartz travesty in the form of the Bipenate Butterfly bannerstone. The material is acceptable; a honey colored quartzite, but the pecking over the polish and lines are not right. Sold @ $650-800



    Fig. FB#28: The great highly developed banded slate notched Butterfly, envy of all serious collectors. This one will not make the grade; although the color is nice, the lines are not. A few nicks make it appear old to some. Sold @ $950-1200.



    Fig. FB#29: Whatsit is probably appropriate as we never saw anything like this stranger. The lines, workmanship, material and design are inappropriate to the Bannerstone realm of ancient America. Sold @ $450



    Fig. FB#30: What a beauty we heard some say. The gaudy ferruginous quartz is the right material, but the workmanship is wrong from the notches to the wings, looks like Mickey Mouse's ears! Sold @ $3500-4000



    Fig. FB#31: Old labels and documented information doesn't make an authentic butterfly bannerstone. In this instance, the banded slate has been artificially aged and looks well worn. It is less than 50 yrs old. Sold @ $850-950



    Fig. FB#32: This is a shame. Published in 1939 in Knoblock, but it is not authentic. Reason is that it was an eastern piece and Knoblock relied on photos and he didn't see every piece in person. 60 years of history didn't help the owner in this situation. Sold @$1250-1500



    Fig. FB#33: Not much one can say about this foolish looking notched Ovate bannerstone of some design. The space between the wings is too wide, the wings are too small, the finish is wheel polished. Sold @ $675



    Fig. FB#34: It is said that collector desire drives the replicator market. This showy Bi-face Hourglass is highly polished but wrong. The surfaces, and the perforation is not correct. Probably 1960 era, the seller promised full documentation, really? Sold @ $3500-3850



    Fig. FB#35: With colorful yellows, reds, whites; this quartzite bannerstone had 60 years of documentation. But this one has no place in history, other than the fact that it is not authentic. Sold @ $4500-8500



    Fig. FB#36: It's often said that so called "Worm tracks" designate an authentic artifact; they didn't help this Class A Butterfly primary form bannerstone. The wheel polish and the straight hole finished its opportunity for fame and a place in antiquity. Sold @ $1250-1600


    Authentic Prehistoric Bannerstones



    Fig. AP/B1:This Class C,Double Notched Butterfly Bannerstone is very highly developed. The material is Blue/gray banded slate and it measures 4" in length, Found in Perth County, Ontario. John Schultz Jr. collection. Value range $3200-3800



    Fig. AP/B2: A Uniface Bottle type Bannerstone made of banded Reddish brown Claystone, measuring 2 l/4" in height, the blemish near the center is ancient, with an engraved leaf design, Henry Co.,Tennessee. Wilkes, 0' Neill, Berner; Value $2000-2500



    Fig. AP/B3: A combination of Reds, Yellows and pale Grays make up this Ferruginous quartz Hourglass type Bannerstone. The top portion has been modified anciently. Found in Mississippi county Arkansas and measures 4 1/8" in length. Value range $3500-4000



    Fig. AP/B4: A rare form, this Clarksville type Bannerstone is made of Gneiss, black and white quartzite. A triangular type with raised ridge, fluted end panels and a small hole, it was found across the river in Kentucky by a construction crew in 1986. Ex.Beutell, Berner collection. Value range $3000- 3500



    Fig. AP/B5: Large Reel type southern Bannerstone measuring 4 1/2" in length. It is made of muted Reddish Brown banded Claystone and well polished. Found in Itawamba County, Mississippi, Brown collection Value range $1200-1500



    Fig. AP/B6: Black Ferruginous slate (unusual for the type) it measures 4 1/4" in width. The nicks are ancient. Found on the Spurlin farm, Wayne Co. Ohio. Ex.Beutell, Berner collection Value range $3800-4200



    Fig. AP/B7: This finely made double notched Butterfly type Bannerstone is made of gray/black banded slate and has a high-ly developed central ridge for the barrel support. Steimle collection Value range $3500-4500



    Fig. AP/B8: The "L" Banner or Geniculate is an unusual style, it is not similar to any kind other than the "Panel". This specimen is highly developed and made from well banded slate. Value range $2500-3500



    Fig. AP/B9: Not the largest, but one of the prettiest Southern Bannerstones, this Biface Bottle type is made of Ferruginous Red and white quartzite and was found early 1900's, Alcorn County, Mississippi and originally in the M.T.Gray collection. J.Neal Brown collection. Value $4500-$6000



    Fig. AP/B10: This Knobbed Lunate Bannerstone of banded slate was found in Randolph County, Indiana by James Keesling in the early 1970's during an eclipse. It is without blemish. Value $7500-10000



    Fig. AP/B11: The "Reel" type slate Bannerstone is one of the highest forms of archaic development. This would have to be one of the best examples of this type. Gerber collection. Value range $10500-15000



    Fig. AP/B12: This uniface Bottle type bannerstone is made of highly polished Claystone and represents one of the nicest forms of development. Found Mississippi, J. Neal Brown coll. Value range $3500-4500



    Fig. AP/B13: This double notched Butterfly has a well developed ridge on both sides. It was found in Parke County, Indiana and formerly in the Ritchie, Berner, Huff and Beutell collections. Value range $2000-2400



    Fig. AP/B14: Many Bannerstone collectors have never seen a "compound" Bannerstone. This one is made of shell discs and pink claystone, found in Davidson County, Tennessee. John Mark Clark collection. Value range $1500-2500



    Fig. AP/B15: This is the Southern "Covered Wagon" type, with highly developed terminal ends. Top -and- bottom specimens, Claystone; Both from Mississippi. J. Neal Brown collection. Value range $2500-3500 ea.



    Fig. AP/B16: Another highly developed Class "C" Butterfly Bannerstone of banded slate. What makes this one rare is the fact that it is Red/gray/yellow banded slate. Formerly in Townsend, Fuller and now in the O'Neill collection.Value range $4000-5500



    Fig. AP/B17: Another rare form, this Tennessee Spotted Bottle banner is made of reddish brown Claystone and is one of less than a dozen authentic types. Found in Henry County, Tennessee, it resided in the Steere, Berner, Tucker, Walsh collections. Value range $3500-4000



    Fig. AP/B18: This large hardstone notched Ovate is one of the earliest forms, found at Stallings Island, Georgia; it was ceremonially killed before being deposited in a cache. Dr. Boyd collection. Value$5000-8000



    Fig. AP/B19: This highly developed Reel type Bannerstone is fashioned from Maroon Banded Claystone and is in the Bannerstone book, listed as Hamilton County, Ohio; it is probably Hamilton County, Tennessee and a southern style. Felke collection. Value $3500-4000



    Fig. AP/B20: A unique form with slightly rounded wings and a ridged barrel, this dark Red Jasper Bannerstone has tallies on the ridge and wings. Delaware Co. Indiana, #1 Stephens, Putty collection.Value range $1500-2500.



    Fig. AP/B21: The epitome of hardstone Bannerstones is the Bi-penate Butterfly ferruginous quartz. It has rounded wings, large barrel and is beautifully made. This specimen is from Virginia. Value range $12500-15000



    Fig. AP/B22: Right up there at the top, Spotted Wisconsin Wing form pictured in Knoblock, found 1878, Milwaukee Co. Wisc. and Moorheads Stone Ornaments. Ex.Ringeisen, Whaley, Dominy, and Kono collections.Value range $15000-17500



    Fig. AP/B23: This Bipenate Limonite Bannerstone was cataloged as having been found in Champaign County, Ohio and from the Dr. Gordon F. Meuser collection. It is most likely a southern form and carried north in archaic times. Meuser, Berner, Gehlbach collections. Value range $850-950



    Fig. AP/B24: The fluted tubular Bannerstone of banded slate is one of the primary forms of the archaic period. It was discovered that some were made in multiples and simply sawed apart. Ref: "Redskin, No2.1970".Value range $450-650


    “Used by Permission of the Author” and originally published in American Indian Artifacts; Genuine or Reproduction by Col. John F. Berner. Copyright © 2000 by American Antiquities, Inc.
    Last edited by painshill; 01-27-2016, 11:57 AM.
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