NORTHWEST COAST OR ARCTIC NATIVE PEOPLES BONE AND
IVORY FISHING IMPLEMENTS: This seven piece set
consists of seven pieces of antique native fishing gear
which are of the style used by the Northwest Coast
tribes or the peoples of the Arctic tribal groups.
Fashioned of bone, possibly tusk ivory, and wood, these
pieces are a very nice representative sampling of the
type of harpoons, fishing lures, and line which was used
by the native subsistence fishermen.
The set consists of:
1. A white bone or ivory harpoon head measuring 5” long
and 5/8” wide at its widest point. The harpoon features
two barbs on one side with a swell at the base for
anchoring to a shaft. The point retains it’s sharp tip
and there is a hole in the base for attaching a line for
retrieving the catch.
2. An amber colored bone harpoon head measuring 3 ½”
long and is ¾” wide across the matching pair of barbs at
the tip. The base is swelled with two protrusions for
anchoring the head to a shaft.
3. A wooden harpoon head measuring 4 ¾” long and ½”
wide at the widest point. The tip is broken off this
piece, but the remaining portion of the head features
two barbs and a tapered base where it anchored in the
4. Three ivory or bone “fish attractors”, or lures,
used in ice fishing to draw the fish into the view of
the fisherman as he looked down through the hole in the
ice and into the water below. All three are roughly the
same length, 3 ¼” to 3 ½”, and are of the same
thickness. Each has a hole for attaching a jigging
line, and each is carved with various combinations of
dots and lines – perhaps nothing more than decoration,
but they could also be ownership marks identifying the
native fisherman who made them.
5. A carved wooden fishing line bobbin with the
original line still intact. The wooden bobbin is nicely
fashioned in the shape of fish, another nice example of
how the native peoples were all inherent artists,
incorporating design and decoration in even the most
mundane pieces of their material culture. The bobbin
measures 3 ½” long and 1 ¼” wide at its widest point.
Other than as noted above, all of these pieces are in
very good condition and present as equipment which could
be used to land a fish today.
This is a very nice set of the type that doesn’t survive
in great numbers. While every male, and quite possibly
many females and even children possessed their own
fishing kit, as their very survival depended heavily on
subsistence fishing, this is the sort of artifact that
did not attract much collector interest when they were
available, and now do not show up on the modern
collector market very often. (0462) $250