As one of the most sought after lithics in Pennsylvania, the Perkiomen Broadpoint, or Broadspear, is one of the most collectible, valuable-and yet misunderstood point types known. And so right away we’re going to involve noted experts, in particular the work by Mr. Gary L. Fogelman, as well as various other publications and prints that might help to explain the variations found in this typology. I have somewhat of an advantage here. With a computer I can correct text and explanations in a way that printed media simply cannot. And so this is not intended in any way to undermine the efforts of seasoned collectors and hunters in the area. But simply as a way to explore the many varieties of this type in a way that perhaps is not being done yet online, or offline.
While dating methods have improved over time this is a noted Archaic period point type. While some have suggested the range to be 1720-1500 BC we do have to keep in mind the plethora of prehistoric settlements within the greater Reading, Berks, and Lehigh areas as well as the actual date range for the Terminal Archaic period. Mr. Fogelman defines this circa using the range mentioned above (148) but the actual date range for this time has been accepted as any where from 1000 BC to 400 BC leading up to the Early Woodland period. When considering other point types and the predominance of pressure flaking, We might notice that virtually all Perkiomen types are quite distinctive. But I feel that mentioning a few of the more “rare” symmetries when considering the unique nature of this point diminishes the variety and it’s prevalence.
The Perkiomen type was named by Mr. John Witthoft after Perkiomen Creek where a number of these types were located. The lithics used overwhelmingly favor varieties of Jasper but are also found quite often in various cherts, rhyolite, black flints, and Chalcedony. After years of hunting I have often found larger Perkiomen types to be formed in varieties of variegated jasper. Some times even bordering on an obvious ceremonial approach to the design of the point. In fact as we will discuss, some Perkiomen types and their structure do not easily afford their use in hunting game at all. And it has been thought by some that aside from being an obvious possible (yet often very short) knife specimen, Perkiomen types inherently hold a sacred countenance with the natives of the time-As many Perkiomen types simply are not designed to kill, cut, maim or to serve much of a great purpose as a tool at all given the other lithics the Natives had available to them at the time.
Most Perkiomen types will be found in sizes of 1 1/2 to 3 inches with large specimens reaching 6 inches or more (148). I do not particularly agree that the nature of asymmetry is a dominating feature in all types. Quite often a lack of symmetry and proportion in the shoulders of the point is a dead giveaway to a Perky. As you might note here on our site the barbed types also are not quite so rare. The rarity of the type itself as I’ve found often found barbed Perkys near the now newly developed Willow Creek area most likely is a myopia resulting from farming equipment destroying the point and it’s features before it is found. A narrow expanding stem with what Mr. Fogelman calls “slight ears” is also a very distinctive feature of this point type. This should be present in most varieties for identification. In particular this often separates, for example a Lehigh typed Perkiomen from both the Susquehanna broad and Lehigh Broadspear itself.
As of late this typology has gained quite the amount of popularity. In particular, the beginning or amateur collector should be careful to note the mentioned characteristics in shoulder angle, base and ear design. With few exceptions a narrow, expanding stem should be present, distinguishing this type from the Ashtabula, and other notched point types. A wide base with no ears is not a good sign, as is any bifurcation. This may help one to pick apart any resellers attempting to profit from the name type.
At this point we’re getting into the meat and potatoes of the point type. But, some examples of the variety in shoulder and tang design should be illustrated. And so please take a look at this photo from which helps to visualize the features we have talked about so far.
Above, noting a ‘Berks’ typed Perk.
Above, noting a ‘Lehigh’ typed Perk.
Great example ‘Lehigh’ in Jasper.