Many collectors of American Prehistoric Artifacts in the Midwest today have enjoyed the experience of hunting and finding artifacts in plowed fields, waterway and old dwellings such as caves and bluffs. This has been shared with friends and loveones for generations. Though it is harder to find grade artifacts today, it still is a fun pastime for many. If you are just starting this hobby it is best to know the laws for hunting in your state. Most hunting is restricted to private properties, so besure to get permission from landowners. It is best to get it in writing. It is illegal to hunt any burial site, to hunt most state properties and all federal properties. Personal and family collections are the foundation of building a collection, and can give you knowledge about what can be found in your area, such as types of artifacts and material used in making artifacts. This information and knowledge is very useful, if you start purchasing artifacts.
Joining archeological groups and organizations can put you in touch with people who have a like interest in the hobby. Most people engage and participate have more than just a dollar interest in artifacts. They usually have an interest in learning more about our Native American history. Members are usually good local contacts.
Reading and studying about prehistoric culture give you a broader understand of the life style and the use of many types of artifacts during ancient times. People who hunt for artifacts and start to purchase; often have a tendency to go straight to buying guides for information on artifacts. They see their two inch broken tipped projectile point they found, have little value and are disappointed. Personally I believe most collectors should understand the history of artifacts in their area first. It makes Individuals appreciate all finds and give a better understanding that most artifacts were made for use as tools not for grading. It is a part of history or possibly prehistoric history.
Sponsored artifacts shows can be a good experience for most collectors. They are usually setup to display authentic artifacts with reproduction marked as such. Most people that display, buy, sell and trade artifacts within their circle of friends and contacts. Most sponsored shows post guidelines regarding the buying and trading of artifacts. Their policies are sometimes posted around the entrance to the show. If not, it is best to meet the sponsor of the show and find out. Most creditable shows try to police for patterns of reproduced artifacts sold as authentic; this can be a thankless job. Everyone at shows should help sponsors by making them aware of this act of fraud. It is very difficult to tell good reproductions, so it should be a joint effort by all that attend to help sponsors. Sponsors should be informed, if an individual is displaying a number of reproductions as authentic.
Some artifacts bought and sold have little history or provenience. If you wish to purchase, It is a good policy to get a second opinion, but away from the seller to an independent knowledgeable collector, who has your interest in mind. Do not burden your source or sources, use more than just one. When you decide to purchase, it is best to get in writing:1. History of the artifact
2. Name of the seller
3. Address and phone number
4. A guarantee of a refund or trade, if the artifact is not authentic or you are misled about the artifact or any reasonable reason.
5. A signature or initial
Internet shopping for artifacts is another way for buying today. They can be bought through Internet Auctions Ebay, Yourbay etc. Auctions can be a high risk - reward for the purchase of higher grade artifacts but good for medium to field grade, be sure to check responses on dealers and their associational affiliations. If you are looking more for grade artifact it is best to check out websites some good sources are through arrowheads.com. Most creditable dealers online are associated with online organizations such as AACA (www.theaaca.com), which require certain rules of conduct:1. No collecting to selling of illegally procured artifacts
2. No Selling of Reproduction artifacts unless marked "for study only-Reproduction"
3. All members should keep track of accurate and detailed provenience whenever possible
4. Member sellers must offer a minimum 14 days return period on all items sold
5. Member sellers must refund any return item within 14 days of receipt of return items
6. Member's sellers must make buyers aware of any modern re-chipping or restoration
7. Members must strive to educate new collectors seeking knowledge about artifact collecting
8. Members must work out any conflicts or misunderstanding in a professional and timely manner. It is best to know background on any dealers you purchases artifacts from online and their personal guarantees.
Public auctions for Native American items are another source to purchase artifacts. Well-known collections often are sold in this manner. It is a good source for grade artifacts. Most auctions are setup with buyer's premium of 10%, which goes to the Auction Company. If the auction does not have any guarantees. It is best to attend early, with a knowledgeable collector to look through the collection with you. Absentee bids are okay if you have guarantees or reputable certifications, but ask about a possible damage or restoration to the artifacts.
Another source for buying grade artifacts are trade publications, such Prehistoric Antiquities and catalogs. Their are several reputable dealers who publish their artifacts for resale in magazines, but you are usually limited to single photos, so guarantees are very important.
Local hunters are your best source for local artifacts found your area. Most local hunter's trade with others, so be sure to ask provenience information. Be sure to check for restoration, plow damage and re-chipping. Plow damage is often mistaken for re-chipping. Sometimes it is difficult to get refunds from local hunters, if they are having finance problems. So a quick return on questionable artifacts is very important. It is usually best to bring some along to get a second opinion prior to purchasing.
Flea Markets and antique malls are not the best source for grade artifacts unless you have a reputable dealer, knowledgeable about artifacts. Most of theses dealers have little or no knowledge. Most high-grade looking artifacts are often reproductions with no provenience. Often flint knappers use flea markets as a source to sell their reproductions. Get other opinions prior to purchasing.
Private showing from reputable dealers is a good way to purchase artifacts .You do not have the time restrictions you do at shows. You can look at your on pace. Grade artifacts are often bought in this manner. Usually, you can bring others with you.
Building a collection of Indian artifacts whether finding or purchasing is a fun, rewarding and an educational experience. It is best to start with a type of pattern, local material, types, time period's etc. It will help you in developing a deeper knowledge of your collection. Knowledge is king. It is usually best to start with lesser grade artifacts, then build up, if you are purchasing. Study them before you start going to higher grade Artifacts. If you buy grade artifacts certification papers can be helpful for your family estate. Individuals who certify give independent opinions, but can not totally guarantee authenticity on all artifacts. It is best to use experts within your part of the country, and use their regional knowledge for the particular type of artifact you have acquired.
Develop your expertise and learn:
Hopefully these ideas will be help in building your artifact collection. Pricing has not been discussed. I do believe it can be subjective. Most price guides such as Overstreet and Horthem will give you ball park price value.