The Franklin Peale Collection

By: H. N. W.

Originally Published in 1933

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THREE quarters of a century ago, a member of the notable Peale family, identified with the artistic life of Philadelphia, began the collection of ‘Specimens of the Stone Age of the Human Race.’ His purpose was to prove, through the similarity of ancient artifacts in the Old and the New World, the common origin of their makers, meeting by like means their common needs. Beside the paleoliths from the bed of the Somme he placed crude chipped implements from American Indian camp and quarry sites, and with Neolithic flints from Switzerland and Sweden he compared ground and polished tools and flaked points gathered in our home fields.

Pipe carved in the shape of a seated man and an animal
Plate V — Indian Pipe from the Ohio Region, in the Franklin Peale Collection
Museum Object Number: 87-39-850
Image Number: 13236
A stone axe head in the shape of a vertebrae
Plate VI — Axe-Head from the Lower Mississippi Valley, in the Franklin Peale Collection
Museum Object Number: 87-39-61
Image Number: 13237

The American Philosophical Society has chosen the University Museum to be a permanent home for the Franklin Peale Collection, which numbers upwards of 1100 pieces. In addition to the more familiar types of American stone artifacts, there are represented the ‘problematicals’: banner-stones, boat-stones, pierced tablets, and discoidals.

A notable pipe [Plate V], apparently from the Ohio region, is carved with a seated human figure and his totem, both facing the smoker in true Indian style. A beautiful tubular pipe of polished limestone bears the quaint locality ‘Peg’s Run, Philadelphia.’

There is a rare earthenware pot with incised decoration, the gift of a Mandan chief, and said to be the last in the possession of that tribe. An interesting weapon, unusual if not unique, is the axe-head from the lower Mississippi valley shown in Plate VI; its round blade and three-lobed poll link it to the ceremonial monolithic axes of the Tennessee region: here is the actual weapon of which they were the symbol.

H. N. W.

Cite This Article

W., H. N.. "The Franklin Peale Collection." Museum Bulletin IV, no. 5 (October, 1933): 131-134. Accessed July 23, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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