Click here to bid live on Invaluable! Watch and listen live and in real time! Leave absentee bids now then watch or bid live during the auction. Register Early!  More

Dan Ripley Select Presents The Townsend Collection II

June 23, 2012

Time: 2:00 pm
Location: 2764 East 55th Place, Indianapolis, IN 46220
More Info: 317-251-5635


*Auction Day and Preview Reservations Required*

"The singularly most significant collection of North American Prehistoric Art and Artifacts ever assembled."

Included in this once-in-a-lifetime auction event will be “The Smithsonian Bird,” a prehistoric porphyry granite birdstone that is considered the finest so far discovered.

Read the June 8 New York Times Article

Purchase Auction Reservation and Catalog:

Reserved Seat w/ Catalog
Each ticket provides one reserved seat, one catalog* (priority mail shipping incl.) and admission for semi-private preview by appointment.


Reserved Seat Only
Each ticket provides one reserved seat for auction event and admission for semi-private preview by appointment. (No catalog)


Catalog Only
Professionally photographed and artist designed, limited edition collector’s catalog (priority mail shipping incl.).


Phone Orders
Don't want to mess with Paypal? Give us a Call! We take Visa & Mastercard.


 (317) 251-5635

Pay by Check
We also accept personal checks made out to "Antique Helper". Give us a call and we'll make sure you're on the catalog and/or reserved seat list.


(317) 251-5635














Sale Day Ticket Info:

  • Sale Day Tickets Required.
  • Seating is limited.
  • Preorder tickets online now.


Reserved Seat w/ Catalog Info:

  • Each ticket provides one reserved seat, one catalog* (priority mail shipping incl.) and admission to public preview on Friday, Friday 22nd (semi-private preview by appointment)
  • Cost $60


Reserved Seat Only:

  • Each ticket provides one reserved seat and admission to public preview on Friday, June 22nd (semi-private preview by appointment).


Auction Catalog:

  • Professionally photographed and artist designed, limited edition collector’s catalog.
  • Cost $40 (priority mail shipping incl.)
  • Extra copies or in-house purchase $35.
  • One copy included with purchase of Reserved Seat w/ Catalog Ticket.


There are numerous hotels near the auction house. A list can be found by clicking here.

Preview Party:

  • Friday, June 22nd: 10am-10pm
  • All Reserved Seat tickets are welcome.

Buyer’s Premium 17%. Discount of 2% available to ticket holders, in attendance, for non-credit, day of sale payments only. Terms and conditions apply.


Presented as an offering in the newly announced Dan Ripley Select Auction Series.


Welcome to the Townsend Collection, Part II


“A once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors to acquire museum-quality artifacts at public auction.”

Townsend’s passion was birdstones. As author of Birdstones of the North American Indian, published in 1959, Townsend was acknowledged as the leading authority on these prehistoric North American artifacts.

The highlight of The Townsend Artifact Collection Part II will be The Smithsonian Bird. It is considered the finest porphyry granite birdstone discovered to date. This storied specimen is well-known to collectors. Discovered prior to 1882 in Vernon County, Wisconsin, The Smithsonian Bird was first pictured in Stone Art by Gerald Fowke, Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report, 1891-92. Its name is derived from the fact that it was once part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Townsend acquired it in 1953, prior to the publication of his landmark book, Birdstones of the North American Indian.

Townsend counted a birdstone found ca. 1976-77, as one of his favorite bust birds. Featured as The Queen in a photograph captioned “The Queen and Her Court” in Watchel’s Who’s Who in Indian Relics #7, this birdstone is likely the best of the bust birds.

One of the most recognizable birdstones in the sale is a pipestone bust which Townsend acquired from the collection of Dr. Gordon Mueser. It was found in 1896, in the northern part of Boston, near the Cuyahoga River. This birdstone is pictured prominently in Birdstones of North America, pages 237 and 567, A & B.

Also featured in this auction are two rare topknot birdstones, of which there are only five known examples. The slate offering was found in Oxford Co., Ontario in 1918, and was purchased by Townsend in 1965. It is pictured in Who's Who in Indian Relics #2, pp. 56-57. The porphyry specimen is the only known example of its kind.

Another auction highlight is a rare low slung porphyry granite reptile form birdstone found by Douglas Mapes on the banks of the Pine River in Midland, Michigan in May of 1985 and acquired by Townsend in 1990.

Many of the items included in this auction catalog are well-known specimens among collectors and scholars of prehistoric North American artifacts. Bannerstones, a favorite among artifact collectors, are typically found in Eastern North America. They are characterized by a center hole in asymmetrically shaped, carved or ground stone. Theories abound as to their function. Collectors value bannerstones for their aesthetic worth and impressive craftsmanship. Items of special note include a bottle bi-face bannerstone, which Larry Swann describes as “one of the finest bottle banners ever sold at auction.” Well known to collectors, this stone has been the subject of considerable scholarship. Found by Stanley Mickon on the Minkel farm, this bannerstone is a beautiful mix of cream and reddish orange tones. Another auction highlight is a Wisconsin wing porphyry bannerstone. This well-documented piece is the very best of its type.

Also included are two of the finest Caddo blades ever offered. Both blades are crafted from extremely patinated chert with pink and grey swirls. They were originally part of a cache of twenty-six blades found by road workers in Yell County, Arkansas in 1936. Few of the stones survive.

This session of the Townsend Collection will provide collectors, dealers and students with another rare opportunity to view, study or own a piece of American archaeological history. The staff of Antique Helper is proud to offer these wonderful artifacts at public auction. We greatly appreciate the trust and assistance of the Townsend family in preparing this sale. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.


Learn More About Earl Townsend and the Collection