Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Of course spike tomahawks were not exclusive to Native American use. Fur trappers, colonial soldiers, 'mountain men', scouts, etc, also used such pieces. During the French and Indian War, there were several Scottish regiments that rejected the Brown Bess bayonet in favor of a tomahawk ax as sidearm. Here are two more spike 'skull hammers' from my collection. Both are early, possibly pre-1800 based on their styling/iron forging and have their original hafts. The smaller of the two has a steel bit and a steel spike forged into the iron. The larger specimen has an 'eared' base, lozenge shaped eye and an old blacksmith repair where a lug secures the head where it cracked through the eye.
Understanding the culture from which these axes emerged is truly amazing. During the trade years, a white blacksmith would often in good faith take a native wife in order to bond with the tribe that he was supplying trade items. Often, the smith would set up shop right on the perimeter of that particular tribe's land. This practice of taking a native wife was most popular with the French fur trappers, but many of the Hudson's Bay Company Brits did it as well.
Some will note the 'nail pulling slot' and call foul. Tomahawks never have nail slots like lathing axes, shingle hatchets, etc. The exception to this rule, however, is when they were drilled and cut later in the axe's life. These tools were often used for a century or more! Also, if the 'slot' is more square-shaped, they were often not for nail pulling, but were a trap chain pulling slot. Imagine sticking your arm down into icy water all day long to haul out a trapped beaver! The ax slot served as an extension of the arm to pull the trap from the chill river.