Original Native American Trade “Scalping Knife” (SOLD)



This is an original late 18th century, or early 19th century, probably British, trade knife, or “scalping knife,” made for the North American fur trade with Native Americans.  This shows the plain wood handle they generally were given, though the tang only runs about half the length of the grip.  I can’t make out any markings on the blade.  It looks really, really close to this dug example we have, which was found at an Ottawa site along the shore of Lake Michigan, in an area known as L’ Arbre Croche, modern day Good Hart, Michigan.

Here’s a more detailed blog post we wrote on Native American trade “scalping knives,” as they were called at the time: https://scavengeology.com/native-american-scalping-knives-the-truth-the-fiction-the-business-the-blood-history/

A 1782 estimate to the Dept. of Indian Affairs from Fort Detroit on the number of “presents” they would need on hand for 1783 alone, included a request for “60 Gro Scalping Knives,” which amounts to 11,280 knives for trade to the Indians, for just August of 1782 through August of 1783…. And that’s just for use at Detroit! No wonder these tend to turn up in Michigan….

These scalpers are of the simplest pattern possible-a generally straight or very slightly curved blade 6 or 7 inches long, fairly straight and unsharpened on the top, ending in a point from which the sharpened bottom edge begins and runs along the bottom back to the grip, making a curved edge suitable for skinning and slicing. The grip is a single piece of wood split with a saw for two-thirds of its length. The short tang of the knife blade was shoved into this split and fastened by two or three rivets inserted into holes drilled from side to side. With a minimum of machine polishing, the knife was completed and ready for sale.


The relic shown with it in the photo is not included….