Dovetail Points

Dovetail Points

Officially known as St. Charles points, but commonly called Dovetail or Plevna points, these prehistoric artifacts are medium to large points with narrow corner or side notches defining the base or stem. The base is typically fan shaped and resembles the spread-out tail of a dove, hence the collector’s term for this form. A small number of these points have been found having a shallow basal notch.

Dovetail points are associated with the Early Archaic to Middle Archaic periods, about 9000 to 5000 B.C. They have been found throughout the midwestern to eastern United States. The St. Charles name was given to this type of point by Edward G. Scully in 1951 for points that he found in the central Mississippi valley in St. Charles County, Missouri.

St. Charles, or dovetail, points range from about 1.5″ to 10.5″ in length, however dovetails longer than 4″ are rare. In 1966 Earl Townsend, an authority on these points, reported that no more than 40 dovetails longer than 7″ in length were known to exist. Dovetail points tend to be robust in heft and this, combined with signs of numerous resharpenings, suggest that the larger sizes may have been used as knives.

Dovetails are typically characterized by superior workmanship and materials, which contribute to making them prized examples for collectors. The downside of this excellence is that their popularity has also resulted in the creation of many modern examples by contemporary flint knappers. Documentation is one key to authentication of dovetails; any examples, particularly larger sized examples, without a documented history should be evaluated with care.

Further information about St. Charles / dovetail points and other pre-historic Indian artifacts may be found at Reference note by p4A editorial staff, November 2011.

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