Recent Fur Trade Finds

Some recent finds we acquired from the coastline of Michigan in the areas surrounding Fort Michilimackinac and L’ Arbre Croche. These are all from 18th and early 19th century American Indian village sites within the territory of the Ottowa tribe, which was heavily engaged in the fur trade with both the French and the British fur traders.

A broken trade axe, which if I had to guess, was made by a blacksmith here in the colonies:

Broken Barlow style folding knife. It appears to be late 18th century style, with remanants of the bone scales still hanging on:

A lead bale seal with numbers scratched onto it. I don’t know a whole lot about lead seals, but they look similar to others excavated by archaeologists in the Fort Michilimackinac area, which may have pertained to bales of trade cloth, with the numbers identifying the specific category of cloth in the shipment:

An oval fire striker with a maker’s mark. It looks a lot like one I already have from the area:

A brass wristplate escutcheon off a flintlock, possibly a pistol due to the small size. No doubt off a trade piece:

Here it is compared to an early/mid 18th century British Queen Ann style pistol:

Here it is compared to an Indian trade fowler. You be the judge….

Some other flintlock related items. Trigger guard, ramrod pipes, sideplate screws, and son on. Maybe a sling swivel?

I instantly recognized this one. Do you know what this is? No doubt it’s a piece of lead which was wrapped around a flint inside the jaws of a flintlock. Check it out. Still a perfect fit, though I didn’t stretch it open to re-fit a flit in there; but it would still work perfectly as it was last used 200+ years ago:

Fired and dropped lead roundballs, last in the hands of American Indians 200+ years ago, likely:

Breech plug and screws from a flintlock:

Brass ramrod pipes, likely from an Indian trade gun:

Here’s the larger one compared to an old trade gun I have:


A blacksmith forged hoe:

The remnants of a brass trade kettle:

I really don’t know what this is, but it looks like a fish, or maybe a snake?

Sewing supplies, including a brass thimble and some awls/needles:

4 thoughts on “Recent Fur Trade Finds

  1. Those are awesome relics John. Good work. Might be in the area over July 4th week. Would like to see the Fort if you all are going to be around. Keep up the good work.

    Best Regards Jack Winecoff

  2. John, sometimes your posts show photos of heavily rusted finds that have been \”preserved.\” Could you describe the process of how that is done?

    • For iron, if small enough, I heat it in a small toaster oven, at 400 for up to a couple of hours. then use a carbon steel or stainless steel wire brush attachment on a dremel tool. You can use a brush wire attachment if you want to take it down to the bare metal, which I occasionally do if there’s a reason to do so. Then I give it a coat of beeswax. For pewter and brass I usually don’t do much. Maybe a little polishing and some beeswax if it needs it.

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