Native American artefacts break records in Indianapolis



2015-06-26 10:41:50

The first part of Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper auction of the Native American artefact collection of historian Earl Townsend Jr broke records for both the artefacts and the auction house, and the collection is expected to achieve highly again in the second part, on June 23rd.

Townsend’s collection of prehistoric carved stone artefacts is recognised as one of the largest and most comprehensive in existence. Much of the collection is made up of bird stones and banner stones, prehistoric Native American abstract stone carvings. Their purpose is not known and widely disputed, whether ceremonial or practical, and they are often found in graves. They are usually unearthed east of the Mississippi river.

The first part of the Earl Townsend collection was auctioned off in December 2011. The highlight was a quartz butterfly shaped sunset glory banner stone, sold for $245,700 – a world record for a banner stone. Two quartz hourglass banner stones sold for $20,700 and $41,400, and two hardstone porphyry granite popeye bird stones sold for $117,000 and $88,920. These, plus a wide array of the finest bird stones, banner stones, flints and axes, and other prehistoric artefacts, made the $1.2 million gross auction was the most successful ever sale for Antique Helper Auctions.

Known particularly for his book ‘Bird stones of the North American Indian’ (1959), it is no surprise that Earl Townsend’s bird stones are particularly sought after. The second part of the auction, to be held on June 23rd will feature the Smithsonian Bird, a prehistoric porphyry granite bird stone, considered the finest example of its kind. It is estimated to sell for $400,000-$600,000. Another reptile shaped bird stone in bluish-green granite is estimated at $40,000-$60,000, and a polished bust type bird stone has been valued at $75,000-$125,000.


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