On the Cover
One of the cabinet cases in the first collection of B.W.Stevens. Photo
courtesy of Bobby Onken.
B.W. Stevens (1897-1971) is recognized as one of the great collectors
of Indian artifacts. Known as “Stevie” to his friends, he gained
an interest in collecting and archaeology as a boy when he was befriended
by Don Dickson and was involved in early excavations at
Dickson Mounds. He became a commercial artist by trade, and resided in
Quincy, Illinois. He started building a collection in his teens,
and by the 1930’s, was recognized as a major figure in Indian artifacts.
He was one of three appraisers of the massive Edward Payne collection
in 1935, and added choice pieces from it to his collection. Dr. T.H.Young
eventually acquired his entire collection in 1953
for the unheard of price of $105,000. He then went on to acquire and
build a second collection until his death in January of 1971. He was a founder of the Illinois State Archaeological Society and served
as their editor for many years. In addition, he was President of the
CSASI in 1965 and 1966 and further served as the CSASI Librarian.
His collection covered all aspects, from points to pottery, and he
made special efforts to acquire notable and exceptional pieces. He
was diligent in cataloging his collection, and today it is possible
know when and from whom he acquired an artifact, as well as when he
disposed of it. He also included a small hand drawn picture in his
catalog to add in the description. If you have an artifact from his
collection, you can identify it by his sticker, which shows the catalog
number and location of the find. If you match that to his catalog, a great deal of additional information can be acquired.
His collection would be difficult to collect today, even with unlimited
resources, as it was assembled at a time when there were less
people collecting and choice artifacts could be acquired for a reasonable