The Leibharts are arguably the most famous family in collecting early York County Susquehannock artifacts. Beginning as early as 1929, two brothers—Oscar and Byrd Leibhart—began digging for Native American artifacts at sites in York County, PA.
This tradition continued with Oscar’s son—Donald Leibhart. Donald, a veteran of World War II, died at the age of 96 in June of 2016.
The items in the collection were excavated in the 1950’s from what is believed to have been a village of approximately 1,200 Susquehannocks living in Wrightsville, York County, PA.
The top lot of the auction was a unique carved banded slate figure or birdstone in the form of a bird with large eyes, which sold for $22,400 to a floor bidder after heavy competition. A Washington Boro incised pot was the second-highest performing lot of the collection, landing at $7,000.
A number of interesting pipes also attracted attention, with a bear form stone and pewter pipe bringing $7,000. A Serpentine pipe stem, expected to bring up to $200, eventually sold for $5,900. Pipes were highly prized among the Susquehannock and were used in trading both with other tribes and Europeans.
The collection also included many examples of trade beads produced in Europe for export to the colonies and used to trade with Native Americans. A selection of rare examples sold for $4,300, while a grouping of four strands of trade beads brought $2,300.
The collection was offered as part of Cordier’s two-day Fall Antique and Fine Art Auction. The highly anticipated sale attracted bidders from across the country, including numerous museums and private collectors. Prices quoted are rounded down and include a buyer’s premium.