One of the most fascinating historic artifacts and collectibles for sure are arrowheads. Now you all must be thinking who on Earth collects and invests money in some old items they would never put to good use? However, no one thinks about how many fantastic backstories these artifacts hold.
Technically, you all know what arrowheads are. But what makes them special and valuable is not their purpose, it is in fact the period when they were handcrafted and the material that was used. Arrowheads were in most cases stone tools, however, sometimes these were made from shells, metal, animal bone, or glass as well which makes them very valuable. We will talk about this in detail a bit later.
The great thing about arrowheads is that they can be found all over the world, but if so, are they really worth the money? That’s the question this article will answer, comprehensively. The following text will discuss the most valuable and rare arrowheads. So let’s get right to it!
Brief History Of Arrowheads
These historic artifacts were made for thousands of years by natives worldwide but mostly in North America. That is the main reason why they are relatively easy to find, luckily there are still some pretty rare and unique examples. What will make a major difference in price is the period when and where the arrowhead you are interested in is made.
Naturally, the prehistoric arrowheads from the stone age feature a significantly different design from most Indian arrowheads made in North America. For instance, arrowheads that are dated back to Paleo Indian Period (10,000 – 14,000 years ago) are among the most valuable ones on the market.
However, many valuable arrowheads are found in three other archeological stages:
- Archaic stage (7,000 to 5,000 BC)
- Woodland stage (500 BC to 1,000 AD)
- Mississippian stage (1,000 to 1,600 AD)
Most sought-after types of arrowheads among the collectors
There are many different types of arrowheads that can be found nowadays. Some can’t be placed in a specific category but that does not lower their value. However, there are five basic types of arrowheads that you can come across on the market:
- Clovis arrowheads – This is the most sought-after type of arrowhead among collectors. There are only a few thousands of these arrowheads found in North America. These arrowheads are 16 to 20 centimeters long and usually made from obsidian or flint which was the “IT” material at that time. You’ll recognize them by the thickness and the sharp pointed tip. Clovis arrowheads were used for hunting animals like mammoths who weighed several tons.
- Lanceolate arrowheads – These arrowheads are also known as leaf arrowheads, which point out their unique form. Typically these were made from silver ore deposits, while some specific areas are made from copper. They are small, usually under four centimeters in length and less than a centimeter wide. Unfortunately, they are pretty common so their value isn’t great, but some examples in great condition can be sold for a nice amount of money.
- Tapered arrowheads – What is characteristic of this type of arrowhead is their design. Even though they look simple, the crafting process wasn’t simple at all. They are made of a single piece of flint which is pointed on one end and tapered down to a point on the other end. Considering how they look these arrowheads were rarely used as a tool for hunting.
- Stemmed arrowheads – One of the most unique arrowheads are stemmed ones. The blade is made from obsidian or chert with a hefted point on one end. A three-centimeter-long arrowhead is attached to an eight-centimeter-long stem. Mainly these were used for hunting deer or rabbits. A stemmed arrowhead in good condition can be worth a lot of money.
- Elf arrowheads – In all honesty, this type is just a variation of a stemmed arrowhead. The point is a bit thinner and smaller and it is attached to a five to seven centimeters long stem. This is the thinnest arrowhead used in North America.
- Folsom arrowheads – Folsom arrowheads were crafted to replace the Clovis arrowheads. These arrowheads feature wide grooves along their edges and are mainly fluted. They currently reach prices of a few hundred dollars.
- Dalton arrowheads – These arrowheads were used from 10500 BC to 8500 BC. They typically feature fish-shaped blades. You’ll notice how it has an inward curve near the base and an outward curve in the middle and near the bottom of the arrowhead which gives that distinct fish shape.
- Plano arrowheads – Plano points are later prehistoric points used in great plain regions. Plano points are not fluted like Clovis points, and flaking was used to create its edges. Many of the Plano arrow points seemed too fragile to have been effective.
How To Identify A Valuable And Rare Arrowhead?
There are a few things you need to pay attention to when trying to determine the value and rarity of the arrowhead.
Make sure you pay attention to the following:
- Type of material – The most helpful feature to look for is the type of material that is used for making the arrowhead. Keep in mind that the materials used in creating specific arrowheads were usually found only in certain areas. Or they are characteristic of certain tribes.
- Check the shape of the arrowhead – Shape is another feature that can tell you a lot about the arrowhead. For instance, some arrowheads were made with very sharp and pointed tips attached to shafts so they can be used with a bow. Others were secured on a handle and tossed when hunting fish, deer, or other large animals.
- Flaking – Precision and edgework are crucial. Look for the minimum of hinge fractures. Arrowheads with nice flaking techniques such as collateral or oblique transverse also add to the value of an arrowhead point.
- Area of origin – Knowing the area of origin will greatly help you in identifying the arrowhead. If you are aware of in which area or state the arrowhead was made it would shorten the list of all the possible options. Just so you know there are over 1,200 recorded types of arrowheads so knowing the origin is a significant feature!
- Condition – Like with all other collectibles always take a good look at the general state of the item. For instance, when it comes to stemmed arrowheads, check the condition of the stem. In case it’s a stemless arrowhead, pay attention to if it’s fluted or not. In case the arrowhead is scored, look if it’s indented on the side or from the corner.
List Of The Most Valuable And Rare Arrowheads – Sold Or Available
Associated Dates: 9000 to 5000 BP
This is a medium to large arrowhead with narrow corners or side notches. These are what define the base or stem which is fan-shaped and resembles the spread-out tail of a dove, logically.
The blade is triangular with a broad wide face and excurvate edges. However, some specimens will have beveled serrated edges instead. To be able to craft this blade a handler must have excellent workmanship technique and use fine materials.
This particular specimen is made from a glossy cream-colored flint with a subtle dash
of light gray coloring. The blade is pointed, very symmetric, and pretty massive. It features 107 mm in length and 39 mm wide across the blade. The thickness is only around 9.1 mm.
This blade comes with an 11.7 mm long stem. The base of the stem is 23.3 mm wide and 5.7 mm thick.
Associated Dates: 11,500 to 10,800 BP
These are prehistoric artifacts so they are much harder to find than any other arrowheads. In fact, Clovis’s points were made approximately 12,000 years ago. It is believed that there are only about 10,000 of them, so you understand why collectors are crazy about them.
Clovis points are the most famous prehistoric projectile points in America! These arrowheads have a distinctive look that makes recognition very easy. Almost all examples are fluted near the bottom. They almost never have a base so that they can be easily attached to a shaft. Also, pay attention to the sides. They are never too curved inward or outward, they are only slightly narrowed towards the point.
This particular example is made from petrified wood. An average Clovis point is between 4 and 5 inches long and they were used for hunting fish as well as larger animals such as deer and mammoth.
Associated Dates: 10,000 to 7,500 BP
This is a medium to large triangular expanding arrowhead with a cross-section that may come elliptical to a rhomboid shape. What is characteristic is that the blade is always slender, typically slightly excurvate or straight. All Hardin points have a distinctive sharp V angle and form a semicircular dent at the stem junction.
The stem is straight to slightly expanding with a straight or slightly concave base. This particular point is oddly colored which makes it very interesting to collectors. Also, it was manufactured by using selective pressure flaking for finishing and trimming always forming a random flaking pattern. It is 4 inches long and 1.4 inches wide.
Associated Dates: 3,000 – 2,000 BP
This arrowhead is a thin medium to the large triangular stemmed point with a flattened cross-section. It is 4.5 inches long and 2.14 inches wide. The blade is excurvate to straight, reminiscing to a fish shape.
This arrowhead has broad shoulders with dents and a notable bifurcated base. In some cases, the basal notch features a flute-like flake on one or both sides. A flaking pattern is usually random. Considering their size they are primarily used for hunting larger animals.
Associated Dates: 11,500 to 10,000 BP
Paleo points are fluted arrowheads with a dent near the spear point’s base. This dent is used for attaching a spear to the shaft. As you can notice this point is thinner so that you can easily attach it to the shaft. The flute is 4 inches long and 1.13 inches wide.
The base is convex, and much narrower at the base than in the middle. What is distinctive about this type of arrowhead is its slender blade with smooth edges. The arrowhead is made from high-quality flint and it is very durable.
Associated Dates: 3,000 to 1,300 BP
This is a medium to large stemmed triangular arrowhead with a thin flattened cross-section. It is pretty thin, yet very strong and durable. When it comes to size it is 3.7 inches long and 1.7 inches wide. The blade features a straight or excurvate shape. On the other hand, the base and stem are moderately ground with upward-tapper shoulders.
When it comes to Dixon arrowheads the base may range from straight to slightly concaved shape. In this case, the base is thin and concave. This arrowhead is manufactured from a high-quality flint and by using random percussion flaking with marginal pressure so the flaking pattern is random.
Associated Dates: 8,000 to 5,000 BP
This is a medium to large corner notch arrowhead with an elliptical cross-section. To be more precise, this point features 4.9 inches in length and 1.59 inches in width. The blade is very excurvated and finely serrated.
In most cases, like in this one, the base is straight with the narrow notches entering from the corner performing a shoulder that is barbed. This is what additionally expands the stem making it very suitable for attaching to a spear. The origin place of this particular point is Missouri and it is crafted from durable flint with a random flaking pattern.
Associated Dates: 2,500 to 1,800 BP
This is a thick medium to large triangular lanceolate arrowhead with a stem and an elliptical cross-section. What is characteristic of Waubesa arrowheads is that the blade is elongated and excurvate and the widest point is at the shoulders. Moreover, the shoulders are horizontal and slightly barbed with an upward angle.
The stem is long with a convex bass, and the grinding on the base is absent on this type. An example that you are seeing here is made from silicified sandstones and manufactured using random percussion flaking forming a random flaking pattern.
What Is Their Real Worth?
As I already mentioned arrowheads are not very valuable since they were crafted and used by Native American tribes for thousands of years. Considering their widespread use it is only logical that most of the artifacts you come across on the market today are priced under $100, and in the best cases some pieces will cost a few hundred or even thousand of dollars.
However, not all arrowheads are to say so, worthless.
If you are serious about collecting rare arrowheads you should search for the Clovis points. These are the rarest and most valuable arrowheads nowadays, considering they are one of the earliest types of arrowheads ever crafted. In fact, just a few years ago, one specimen of prehistoric Rutz Clovis point was estimated to be worth around $400,000 and it was sold for $276,000!
In case you are only interested in the history of arrowheads and the meaning behind the artifacts then you don’t need to chase the big deals on the auctions. You have a myriad of options for buying or selling arrowheads.
Where should you look for valuable and rare arrowheads?
If you decide to go out and search for the arrowheads on your own then you should know where to start looking. The point is that arrowheads won’t just appear on the ground. The best places to look for are rocks and water.
Places like creeks, streams, and muddy soil near rivers are the best place to start your search. Make sure you check the areas near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The banks of these rivers are well known as a great source of amazing rare arrowheads and ancient native artifacts.
Keep in mind that the environment changes constantly so maybe today you didn’t find a thing but in a week or month, something valuable may appear. Settlements were almost always near water sources so stick to them and trace the best time for search. The middle of the summer is the best time, since the water level is at its lowest then.
Also, arrowheads can be found trapped in rocks near rivers and creeks. The deeper the rocks, the more likely you’ll find something interesting.
Where can you sell or buy valuable and rare arrowheads?
When it comes to buying or selling for old Native American artifacts it is always the best deal to search the internet. Yes, you can check your local antique store or Native American shop, thrift shops, and flea markets, however, you’ll hardly find it there. These places are a good option in case you want to sell your arrowhead.
We recommend searching for particular arrowheads for sale on the following online markets:
- Live Auctioneers;
Are Clovis arrowheads the oldest points ever made?
You may think that because they are worth more they are the oldest type of arrowheads, but that isn’t the truth. Clovis arrowheads are 12,000 to 13,000 years old, which is pretty ancient. However, people used tools even before that period.
There are a number of “pre-Clovis” tools and arrowheads discovered that are estimated to be around 24,000 years old.
Why are Clovis arrowheads worth more?
There are a few reasons why these arrowheads worth more than all other types. The main reason is that arrowheads are relatively easy to find. They were in use for thousands of years, however, some types were manufactured more than others.
Clovis arrowheads are worth more considering that they are pretty hard to find. Therefore, when found, they can be easily sold for hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the condition. The next reason is the location. They can only be found in North and South America.
Finally, the last reason is that they disappeared relatively early in American prehistory. Clovis’s points are replaced by Folsom and Dalton’s points.
Let’s Do Some Summarizing
Native American tribes have a long and rich history. In fact, these tribes left us with some of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts that reflected their art and culture at that time. Native American artifacts of all kinds are highly sought after by collectors. Unfortunately, there are many fake or reproduced items on the market so make sure you know how to assess collectibles.
When it comes to rare and valuable arrowheads there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Learn how to identify the different types of arrowheads, know where to find them, and know the factors that affect their value.
After we said all that we hope this informative guide will help you find exactly what you are looking for. With a little luck, effort, and patience everything is possible, happy hunting!