We got a new relic axe find in today, on what has been a beautiful day in the mountains of West Virginia. This is yet another Biscayne Axe, a metal detecting ground find relic. They aren’t necessarily exciting or unusual, since they all look mostly the same. But they’re the real deal – no doubt about it, if that’s what you’re looking for. This was found in Addison, Vermont. These early 17th and 18th century axes seem to be found more often in Canada than in the U.S.A., but this was was found in the U.S.A. technically. Wait, Vermont is in the U.S.A., and not in Canada, no?
As I’ve written about before in regards to Biscayne Axes, they are the earliest form of metal trade axe in North America. Here’s the post I did this past October on Biscayne Axes:
In 1524, Verrazono, on behalf of King Francis I of France, skirted the entire coast of the New Wold, from Florida to Maine, and distributed the new and improved post-Stone Age technology trade goods to some of the coastal Native Americans. In 1534, he sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and did so again in 1535. He made a gift of “hachotz” to the Micmacs and the Saguenays.
The French began very early in the 17th century at establishing a trade relationship, founding the first officially recognized American trading post at Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay River. By the time the English showed up in 1607 in what they named Virginia, they found metal axes already present. At the Battle of Lake Champlain in 1609, it was disclosed to the French that the local Mohawks were armed with iron axes, most likely received from the same French traders in the vicinity of the St. Lawrench River.
Here’s a comparison to some of our other Biscayne axes:
The lower one picture is up in the shop:
The Natives loved their iron axes. The Crees willingly gave up all of their beaver robes for iron axes and made handsome gifts as inducements to the traders to return with more iron axes the following year. Eventually these axes, commonly called at the time, “hachette,” or “hache,” during the 16th and 17th centuries, arrived in many different shapes and sizes. Thousands were imported to trade to the Natives. These became the very first metal “tomahawks,” in the Americas – a tool which would later become integral to the Native American persona.
They are found with a number of different and mysterious “armorer’s marks,” many of them with some version of a cross, or double cross, or other symbols. The same general marks tend to appear across the time period of production of these axes, which is believed to be about 1580 through about 1650. But they appear on different sized axes, and in different orders, and on axes of different weights.
Rather than dating them by their marks, it seems that the best way to understand their date, or at least the date of their use, is to date the site where they were found. This was found in Addison, Vermont, which is just opposite Fort Crown Point (New York) across Lake Champlain. It could be this dates to, or relates to, the original 17th century French occupation of this area of Vermont, which included Addison. And it could also be that this relates to the 18th century of Vermont, including the large amount of French and Indian War history from that area around Lake Champlain.
There’s a total of four punched armorer’s marks on this heavily pitted axe. I just can’t quite make them out. But even if I could, it doesn’t tell you much. The location of Addison, Vermont, tells you more – as does the really severe amount of pitting on this piece. This is in worse condition than many of the Biscayne axes found. It’s been in the ground a long time, and was no doubt in the hands of a Native American around Lake Champlain at a very early date.