Broadhead Collecting - As Easy
There are few areas of archery collecting which have had as
much historical research and organization as the area of Broadhead
Collecting. In fact, as far as I know broadhead collecting is
the only facet of the hobby which has an entire organization
formed around it!!
Is there anything new? These broadheads show that bowhunters
have tried just about everything over the years to make a better
mousetrap. From left are: Geronimo Solid Ferrule, Ply-Flex Barbed
Fish Point, Red Bow Star Point (mechanical broadhead from 1953),
Pioneer Game Tamer (a.k.a. - Pizza Cutter), and Mechanical Killer.
So why do broadheads command so much attention and what some
might consider borderline fanaticism among collectors? Maybe
it's because next to the bow, broadheads truly capture the spirit
of the bowhunter, sharpened by his own hand, carefully placed
on his arrows, and well cared for in the field. In the non-bowhunting
world, you often hear people say that you can tell a lot about
a person by the company that he keeps. But in bowhunting, I believe
that you can tell a lot about a bowhunter by the kind of broadhead
he shoots. Broadheads capture the spirit of the hunt, the personality
of the bowhunter. They have sex-appeal and class. They represent
the best and the worst of their designers and their users knowledge
of the sport. Broadheads are just plain cool.
What Kind Of Broadheads Do People Collect?
Generally, broadhead collectors concentrate on heads that
were commercially available. Another way of saying this might
be that we want heads that were advertised with the intent of
being a business. This is not to say that we don't keep homemade
heads also, especially if the head can be traced to a famous
or important maker, it's just that typically these heads don't
command as much interest or value as those that were commercially
Explain The Different Types Of Broadheads
There are many different kinds of broadhead styles, including
mechanical, replaceable blade, small game, big game, fish points,
etc. However, collectors typically break the heads down into
two main categories, 1) Glue-Ons and 2) Screw-Ins.
Glue on heads are simply those that are attached to the shaft
via a hot melt epoxy , pinning, pressing, or similar method.
Screw-ins is as the name implies, screwed onto the shaft using
one of the many types of inserts available on the market. Most
collectors much prefer the glue-ons and consider the screw-ins
to be second priority or worse.
Some collectors dont even keep the screw-in heads. Is
this a wise choice on their part? Only time will tell. I can
see their point that the screw-in heads dont have the history,
or the sexiness that the older glue-ons have. But I cant
help but relate this to a story from my stamp collecting days.
Back in the 1930s everyone collected stamps because President
Roosevelt was a stamp collector and he would promote stamp collecting
often in his Fire-Side radio chats to the public. As a result,
stamps from the 1930s are pretty common. However, after
that generation had moved on, the next generation forgot about
stamp collecting and as a result stamps from the late 1950s
- early 1960s are actually much harder to find than the
older stamps from the 1930s. Does this mean that screw-in
heads will be worth something someday? Probably not, but its
an interesting thought.
How Long Have People Been Collecting Broadheads?
The first Broadhead collector was undoubtedly Roy Case of
Racine,WI. Roy began manufacturing broadheads in the middle 1920s,
and as a means of keeping track of his competition began collecting
examples of all the competitions heads. From this, Roy
started to enjoy this as more of a hobby than a business effort
and kept up with his hobby until his death in the 1970s.
Roy had few people to share his hobby with until the 1960s,
when due to the exposure that Roy was getting from showing his
collection around at fairs and sportsmans exhibitions several
other bowhunters got the "Broadhead Fever". Eventually,
in the early 1970s, a new magazine on the market called
Bowhunter Magazine ran an article about broadhead collecting,
and the author (Larry Bamford) suggested that maybe it was time
to begin an organized club dedicated to the research, identification,
and collecting of broadheads. The time was right, and the American
Broadhead Collectors Club was founded in 1974
Page from Roy Cases personal copy of "YE
SYLVAN ARCHER" magazine, November, 1927 issue. Until the
Peck & Snyder advertisement was recently found, this was
thought to be the first broadhead advertisement ever. Notice
Roys handwriting at the top of the page.
When Were The First Commercial Heads Manufactured?
You must remember that bowhunting is a relatively new sport.
The first recorded attempts at using a bow and arrow for sport
hunting were not until the Thompson brothers magazine articles
appeared in the periodicals of the mid-1870s. Prior to
this time, hunting was a matter of putting food on the table,
and firearms allowed for a much more certain meal than did the
bow and arrow.
The first commercially advertised broadhead was the Peck &
Snyder company broadhead which was first advertised in 1878 (the
same year the Maurice Thompsons book The Witchery of Archery
was published). Advertised as the Will Thompson Arrow and Broadhead,
this head went undiscovered until Joe St. Charles and I found
2 of them back in the early 1990s. Since that time, no
other Peck & Snyders have been uncovered. But rest
assured that they are out there, its just a matter of someone
knowing them when they see them!!!
This is the Peck & Snyder broadhead first advertised
in 1878. This head is now recognized as the first broadhead ever
manufactured for sporting use.
The next advertised broadhead was not available until the
early 1920s. In 1923-24, the California By-Products Company
of California was contracted by Saxton Pope and Art Young to
begin making broadheads for them to use on their expeditions
to prove the bow & arrows effectiveness as a hunting implement.
No longer able to make enough heads by hand to keep themselves
supplied, Saxton and Art provided CBP with the design for these
About this same point in time, the Sportsmans Archery
Company in Wyoming began producing a large barbed head very similar
to the CBP. Heads of this era are known for the sturdy design,
and frequently are barbed since no laws yet existed outlawing
the use of barbed broadheads.
Early broadheads from the 1920s. From left: California
By-Products, O.A. Norland Yeoman, Small Sportsmans Archery,
Large Sportsmans Archery, Stemmler Lancet, and Case Kiska.
Other early broadhead makers included The Archers Company,
Stemmler, Ace, O. A. Norland, and Case.
All through the 1920s, 30s, and 40s you
could almost count the number of broadhead makers on your fingers.
Then came the 1950s and the increased publicity for the
sport provided by Howard Hill, Fred Bear, Ben Pearson, and others.
This period in time saw a significant increase in people attempting
to make a living selling archery equipment, and as expected the
number of broadhead makers and models increased significantly
Broadheads from the 1930s, from left Stemmler
Practice, Stemmler Deerslayer, Easton Forged, and Bitzenburger
But the greatest increase in broadhead makers came with the
explosion in the numbers of bowhunters brought about by the introduction
of the compound bow in the early 1970s. It seemed that
there just could not be enough new models, styles, and gimmicks
to keep the market happy. Broadheads were being offered that
were both good basic designs, and, to the other extreme, obviously
devised by someone who knew nothing about the sport or how a
broadhead did its work. It was a time when some archery
companies began to look like businesses rather than bowhunters
trying to make a living at their sport.
Some radical new broadhead designs from the 1950s.
From left are the Ropers Indian Arrowhead (cast), Mohawk
Swivel Action, and Ex-Calibre .50.
How Should I Go About Beginning My Collection?
Without a doubt, the best thing that you can do as a new collector
is to join the American Broadhead Collectors Club (ABCC).
Annual dues of $20 will provide you with a very well done quarterly
newsletter, an updated BROADHEAD MASTER LIST once each year,
and a list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all
the other broadhead collectors that belong to the club. The club
also holds an annual meeting at one of the larger traditional
shoots each year, and the collections on display at this meeting
are a site to behold!!!
To join the ABCC, email Greg Schwerer at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I call the process of looking for heads from my collection
"Prospecting". I like the sound of this word. It adds
some sense of adventure in some way. Begin your prospecting by
making a list of all the old timers that you know who bowhunted
at one time. Make an appointment to talk with these people and
show them samples of your collection, and maybe some pictures.
These people will most likely really appreciated the opportunity
to talk with someone with similar interests. Even if they havent
shot a bow for years, they will probably have something tucked
away as a momento that you might just end up owning. Whether
or not you offer money for these items is up to you. In many
cases the old bowhunter may feel better about someone having
these items who will care for them than someone who too quickly
sees these items as money. This is an art that is learned only
Remember though that honesty is always the best policy. You
should never try to cheat someone out of something. Be up front
with them about your intentions. Many times I have seen an old-timer
who started a conversation by saying "someone has already
beat you to all my stuff", only to have that same old-timer
"remember" that he has a few more things salted away
after he gets to know and trust you better.
Dont forget to ask the old-timer to think back and remember
who his shooting buddies were. You might be one referral away
from the jackpot, and asking the fellow this simple question
just might be the ticket to the mother load!!
One of the best "prospectors" of all time was Glenn
Parker of Houston Texas. Glenn passed away a few years ago of
cancer, and at the time of his death had what was probably the
best private collection of archery memorabilia in the world.
Glenn had a knack for looking through old magazines and making
a list of all the names and cities where people lived that were
mentioned in the magazine. It might be as simple a notice in
the magazine as one line saying that Joe Smith of Nashville,
IN won the Rosebud Archery Tournament in Brown County last month",
but Glenn would make note of this and then go find Joe Smith
of Nashville, IN or his relatives and by-golly did he ever find
things!! I dont think anyone has ever been better at prospecting
for archery collectibles than Glenn Parker was.
How Do I Recognize A Good Head?
It is really quite easy to recognize some of the early heads,
even if you dont know what they are yet. First, look for
heads that use a bullet jacket for a ferrule. Most all of the
early heads used these bullet ferrules instead of custom made
ferrules as the later heads used. These bullet ferrules were
often simply slotted to allow the blade to slip into the ferrule
where it was then sottered in place.
Another clue to a head being of early manufacture is the blade
design. Barbed broadhead designs were used by many of the early
manufacturers, as it was thought that the broadhead should stay
in the animal rather than todays thought that a broadhead
should be able to be removed easily by the animal if the hit
was not fatal. Barbed broadheads were outlawed in most states
by the 40s-50s, so if you find a barbed head, it
is probably an older one.
As you become more aware of what to look for in your broadheads,
you will want to begin to know more about them, like their manufacturer,
the model name, date of manufacture, etc. By far the best way
to do this is to purchase the ABCCs 4 volume set called
THE BEST OF BROADHEAD. These publications are simple xerox copies
of articles that have been researched by club members in the
previous issues of the quarterly newsletter, and subsequently
compiled into these volumes. A new volume is published every
5 years. Included in the articles are descriptions of the heads,
and the companies that made them. Often included are very interesting
interviews with the manufacturers themselves. To order these
books, contact the ABCC at the email address that I gave you
Is My Collection Worth A Lot Of Money?
Your collection will be priceless!! Seriously, if you think
that you want to get into broadhead collecting as an investment,
I would suggest that you look elsewhere. I dont mean that
your collection wont be worth money, or that you wont
see your collection appreciate in value. What I mean is that
this is a hobby in its purest form. Increases in value
should not be counted on, then your kids wont be disappointed
when they inherit your collection.
The real joy from collecting broadheads should come from the
feelings of holding a part of the history of this great sport
in your hands. From looking at the file marks in a broadhead
and thinking of the bowhunter who years ago made those marks
while waiting for opening day. Broadheads should be seen as more
than just metal, they are the spirit of the sport. If you can
feel this excitement when you hold a broadhead, then you will
love broadhead collecting.
Having said this, I will add that there have been some collections
which have sold in the past few years for some pretty fantastic
sums of money. I dont have a problem with this. Someday
my kids or my wife might decide that they need to sell my collection
and I want them to have this opportunity. I just hope that they
wait until I am gone before they do it!!
The Rarest Broadheads?
There are several broadheads that can fit this description.
Among the rarest of all the broadheads are:
Peck &Snyder 1878 2 known The first commercial
Bear Pinned 1953 around 6 exist The Razorhead prototype
Bear Giant 1959 2 known Used by Fred in Africa
Kreiger 1930s very few in collections Different models
Geronimo Super 1970s Only 8 made Were a Special Order
Geronimo 4 vent 1970s Only 24 made Die broke before
Bitzenberger Wavey 1930s Maybe only 2 dozen Made by
Barbed Zwickey 1939 Only 2 dozen found Has to be more out
Hinged Fang 1960 Only 1-2 dozen known Early mechanical failure
Of course there are many more broadheads that could be listed
here as being extremely rare, but in the interest of time I have
only listed a few to wet your appetite.
The Most Desirable Broadheads That Can Realistically Be
Rarity is not the only criteria for desirability. A desirable
head may be rare, but it also may have historical signifigance,
it may have an unusual design, or it may simply be sexy. I would
classify the following broadheads as "Must Haves" in
anyones collection because of one or more of these criteria:
Pioneer Game Tamer (Pizza Cutter) 1970 Round Wheel Design
Geronimo (any of the models) 1960-70s Opening on impact
"Wings" are sexy
Case Kiska 1927 Barbed design, Roys first broadhead
Hillcraft 4 Barbed 1944 Real Sex-appeal!
Ropers Indian Arrowhead 1953 Cast Aluminum, a real eye-catcher
Gus Adkins (Any of 7models) 1940s Classy looking heads
Pearson Skeleton Ferrules 1930-1950s Barbed models look
How Do I Best Display My Collection?
The best method that I have seen for identifying broadheads
is to cut off short sections of arrow shafting, about 3 inches
long with the taper. Dip these shaft sections in clear dip at
least 2 coats thick. Then, when the dip is dry, you can mount
the broadhead just as you would for hunting. Lastly, take a photo-marking
pen (which can be purchased at any camera shop) and write the
name of the broadhead on the shaft lengthways. You can also add
descriptive information on the shaft, such as date of manufacture,
ferrule size, etc.
Once you have your broadheads all mounted on shafts, then
you can mount them in the broadhead display of your choice. My
personal cases are designed to allow for easy set up and display
at sports shows when I desire. They are book case style cases,
holding about 550 broadheads each. You may choose to design and
build much smaller cases, depending upon your personal taste
and room for storage. However, whatever you do I recommend that
you use the metal arrow clips to hold your heads in the case
rather than drilling holes into a base as I tried in my first
cases. It is simply too difficult to get all the shafts the same
diameter to fit the holes, not to mention that broadheads have
been made in ferrule sizes ranging from ¼" to 3/8".
Arrow clips can be hard to find, but Whiffen Archery in Milwaukee
usually has them in stock. You can reach Larry Whiffen at 923
S. 16th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204. Or you can call
him at (414) 383-2283.
A view of one of my Broadhead "Bookcases".
The case is 72" tall, and each section is 36" wide.
If I dont put in arrows and pictures, I can get 550 heads
in a case. They fold easily for transportation, but are all I
want to handle by myself.
Where Can I See The Best Collections?
Although there are many excellent collections in private hands,
for my moneys worth there are three collections that stand
out among all others as the finest in the world. Best of all,
all three of these collections can be viewed by the public during
the normal business hours of their owners. Those collections
Pope &Young Museum in Seattle, WA
In all likelihood, the most complete collection in the world.
The P&Y collection can be seen at the site of Northwest Archery,
19807 1st Ave South, in Seattle. The museum curator,
Joe St. Charles is the son of bowhunting pioneer Glenn St. Charles.
Joe is without a doubt the most knowledgeable person I have ever
met with regard to archery history. Nothing escapes his memory
(boy does he really piss me off!!). Seriously, there is not a
kinder, more willing to help man in the hobby than Joe. You owe
yourself a visit to the museum if you really consider yourself
Chippewa Archery in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Owner
Floyd Eccleston is a Charter member of the ABCC, and has probably
been a broadhead collector longer than anyone alive. If Roy Case
was the first broadhead collector, then Floyd must have been
the second. The atmosphere in Floyds shop is simply fantastic!!
It is a wonderful experience to sit on the sofa in front of the
fireplace and chat with Floyd. Floyds collection of arrows
belonging to important bowhunters is unparalleled in the world.
This is a MUST SEE experience for a collector.
Whiffen Archery in Milwaukee, WI - Larry Whiffen
has one of the best collections of broadheads anywhere, but what
makes this collection so special is that Larry is the caretaker
of the Roy Case collection!! Roy entrusted Larry with his collection
prior to his death, and Larry has proven that trust worthy. The
heads are still displayed in the original cases that Roy used,
adding to the appeal of this collection.
What about the A.B.C.C.?
Collectors are not shy about displaying their collections
at the drop of a hat. It is not unusual at all to see a large
collection set up at a State Bowhunting Organization, or sportsmans
show. If you see one, be sure to introduce yourself and let the
owner know that you appreciate his efforts at preserving the
history of our sport for future generations. You just might make
a friend, and walk away with a handful of "traders"
to begin your collection. Good luck, and remember my motto:
"No matter what you saw, I saw it first" (of
course I saw it right after Glenn St. Charles saw it, because
nobody beats him at finding things).