In general, arrowheads are not the most valuable items which are popularly sold on auction sites. However, there are some very rare examples that can fetch a high price. Very ancient arrowheads will be worth more, as will those made from uncommon materials including precious stones like jade and jasper, or petrified wood.
There is one key term that will constantly appear when you enter the arrowhead collectors’ sphere – Clovis points. These are unusual and highly prized by collectors and those interested in antiques and anthropology.
Along with the style of arrowhead, the age, and the material it was honed from, the size and provenance play a role in the value of an item. Here, we will take a closer look at valuable and rare arrowheads, provide you with a guide to identifying and buying or selling these fascinating items, and list the most valuable kinds of arrowheads.
Brief Arrowhead Background
The oldest arrowheads that have been found are around 64,000 years old. These were discovered in Sibudu Cave in South Africa and provide stunning evidence of early human development. For centuries people have hand-carved arrows heads primarily for hunting but also for decorative or ceremonial purposes. Cave paintings, like the 7000 year old hunting scenes found in Castellón in Spain, have been found depicting hunters carrying bows and arrows – the arrowhead connects us to people throughout human history.
Native American arrowheads are common in the USA and will only reach around $10-20 per item. However, this doesn’t mean that finding or purchasing an arrowhead is not exciting, price isn’t everything! It can be a real thrill to come across or track down a beautiful and ancient arrowhead, and imagine all the use it had and everything it has existed through during its lifetime.
The Most Valuable Rare Arrowheads
Identifying And Valuing Arrowheads
If you need to find out how valuable an arrowhead is, you first need to try and identify the type of arrowhead you have. These items can be identified by looking at the form, material, chipping technique, and other distinctive features. The Overstreet Guide to Indian Arrowheads is highly recommended as an encyclopaedia for arrowheads, and can help greatly with identification. Arrowheads.com is also an incredible source of information and offers buying, selling, and identification opportunities.
While arrowheads made from flint, obsidian or grey stone are worth the least, those made of gemstones like jasper or quartz will be worth much more. Older items will fetch a higher price, as will those in good condition. In arrowhead terms, good condition means sharp and nicely symmetrical. Generally, larger items will also be more valuable. Equally, if there are documents attached to the arrowhead proving its provenance and history since it was found, this can improve the value.
It is important to note that an arrowhead will only be valuable if it is authentic. A validation of authenticity is a real bonus and the item will be taken more seriously and be valued much more highly. Check this site out for more help on identification and valuation of arrowheads.
Now, let’s have a look at the most valuable, rare arrowheads in order of highest to lowest value…
1. Clovis Points
First of all, Clovis points are very famous and distinctive in the arrowhead world. They are highly prized due to their rarity and ancient provenance – it is estimated there are only around 10,000 of them in existence. They were only made over a relatively brief time span around about 13,000 years ago during the so-called paleo period.
They are usually made from fine-grained, brittle stones like chert, jasper and obsidian. Their tips are lance-shaped and the arrowhead sports grooves (flutes) running from the base towards the tip. The fluted form is thought to have made it easier to insert the arrowhead into a shaft.
Most Clovis points will have been used as the heads for spears or atlatls (a weapon used to launch darts).
Often, Clovis points are very sharp due to the exquisitely careful pressure flaking which has been used to create a fine edge. The name Clovis is taken from Clovis city in New Mexico. This is where Ridgley Whiteman first found them, back in 1929.
Rare and especially unusual Clovis points are the most valuable on the market, but even the most common ones can be worth tens or even thousands of USD! On average, you may be able to expect a value of around $14,000.
The highest known price that an arrowhead was sold for was $276,000 USD! This prehistoric item was an incredibly unusual, green obsidian piece with a Clovis point, known as the Rutz Clovis point. Green obsidian is a very rare stone and coveted by collectors which is why this arrowhead became very famous in the ancient artefact collecting world.
2. Folsom Points
Archaeologists estimate that Folsom points were made between 9500 – 8000 BC, also during the paleo period. Similarly to Clovis points, they are fluted but with a more finely developed technique. These arrowheads can be identified by relatively wide grooves which run along the edges of the piece.
Interestingly, both Clovis and Folsom points are thought to have been used to target large megafauna including mammoths and giant sloths.
Folsom points are not as valuable as Clovis points mainly because they were made more recently, but they are still one of the rarest and most valuable types of arrowhead out there.
Prices for these arrowheads vary a lot, but large ones tend to go for somewhere around $4000 as long as they are in good condition.
3. Dalton Points
These often fish-shaped arrowheads were used by people between around 8000-6500 BC, the dalton period. Some characteristic features include tip impact fracturing and serrations.
Dalton points which began to lose their sharpness were often repurposed as scraping, drilling, or cutting tools.
You can expect a value a little lower than Dalton points, a couple of thousand dollars or so.
4. Plano Points
These arrowheads were mainly used in the Great Plains region of the USA, hence their name. They may also come from the around the dalton period. These were not fluted unlike the 3 previously mentioned arrowhead styles. The way these arrowheads were made varies – some are much sturdier and are likely to have been used for hunting large animals like bison, while others are very fine and fragile and may have been honed only for decorative purposes.
5. Later Pre-Historic Arrowheads
Arrowheads which come from later than Folsom and Dalton points (somewhere between 7000-1000 BC, the archaic period) will be worth much less, perhaps a few hundred dollars. However, if it is a particularly rare or decorative item it may be worth more, so make sure you get it properly identified to find out how valuable it really is.
A good place to start, whether buying or selling arrowheads, would be auction sites like eBay. This can help you to gauge the value of an arrowhead so you can identify the genuine listings from the reproduction items, or put an appropriate price on an item you want to sell. You can refine the results by selecting the category you are looking for, such as “Paleo arrowhead” or “Clovis arrowhead”.
You can try sites which track auctions and listings like the “Native American Arrowheads” section of Collector’s Weekly. Here you can find single arrowheads or whole collections made from a range of interesting materials like agate and quartzite. This site collects listings from online auctions and magazines. It also provides an opportunity for collectors and amateur enthusiasts to share their items with others, creating widespread interest and a community feel.
It is important to find the right market to sell your arrowhead to, as it has a higher chance of reaching a higher price. If you target serious collectors you are more likely to sell the arrowhead for what it’s really worth.
When buying arrowheads online, go for listings which have plenty of detail including the material, features, age, and other important points about provenance. Try to buy from a reputable seller who has experience in valuing and selling rare, old items.
Assembling a collection of arrowheads can be a satisfying and absorbing activity. Even just a collection of one arrowhead can be enough to spark a lifelong interest or encourage a person to swap careers, re-educate themselves, and follow a different path. A true visceral connection with our ancient ancestors. Check this site out for some excellent information on finding, collecting and identifying arrowheads.
Can I collect arrowheads from ‘the wild’?
Before picking up ancient artefacts you should check out the rules that apply to your area. While some states or countries forbid the removal of objects of archaeological interest from their original resting place, others may allow it with no problems. It is a good idea to report rare or unusual finds to the local archaeological board or society – you may have stumbled upon a site of interest, or a whole cache of remarkable objects, that needs to be shared with the world!
Are broken arrowheads or those in bad condition worth any money?
It is very unlikely that collectors will be interested in broken arrowheads, so these will not be valuable. However, archaeologists are interested in all kinds of artefacts, in-tact or broken. Even a broken arrowhead can tell us so much about how it was made, what is was used for and who may have used it, so in that sense broken arrowheads are invaluable!
How were ancient arrowheads made?
The exact technique used for some of the finest arrowheads is not fully known. However, we have a good idea of how the more common arrowheads were made, such as those made from flint. A maker would heat the piece of flint at first, making it more ‘flaky’ and hence easier to chip pieces off to form an arrow shape. The maker would then use specialised tools including other, harder stones to hone the flint into a pointed shape. Sometimes, the tips were honed further using specially crafted tools made from bone or antler. What’s even cooler is that some people replicate this technique today and it is possible to become an arrowhead maker using pe-historic techniques – awesome!