This type of tomahawk is fairly easy
to define but a bit more difficult to differentiate from other hatchets. It is a hatchet with a typical tomahawk
axe blade and a solid poll on the other side which extends further than what is used in regular hammer poll hatchets
used as tools & is usually decorated with simple to elaborate filing work. Some polls will extend 2.5-3" long.
Also the polled tomahawk has a poll which angles slightly downward from the straight across axis. In other words,
the poll is not exactly 90 degrees from the handle but is angled slightly downward. Sometimes the blade is angled downward
slightly too. Usually the poll begins ~1/4" or more below the highest point of the eye. Now there
are also instances where regular everyday handyman hatchets were adapted for use as a tomahawk but these are few and far between.
Lathing hatchets (used on early plaster
walls & ceilings with wood lath strips) are often mistaken for polled tomahawks but lathing hatchets will not have
the poll extended as far & are usually square in cross section whereas the polled tomahawk has a octangular or round cross
section. Some have argued that only the lathing hatchets will have a notch in the blade for pulling nails & if it
doesn't have that notch it is a tomahawk. But the fact is lathing hatchets were made with AND without the nail
pulling notch in the blade so the notch criteria does not eliminate it as being a lathing hatchet. Lathing hatchets
were made flat on top with the blade, eye and poll at the same highest level, so hammering could be done at the corner
of the wall & ceiling to provide needed clearance. (See pg 14 Fakes, Mistakes & Reproductions; Peck
Stow & Wilcox catalog 1923; Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co 1922 catalog).
The other polled axes commonly found
during colonial times can easily be confused & intermixed with polled tomahawks. Just like polled
tomahawks, polled axes were also carried on the belt. They may have been used as a weapon or not. Usually
the polled axe will have somewhat extended polls also although they average a bit shorter. Polled 'tomahawks' were
either designed or used as weapons. Polled axes are really any tools that have a blade & a hammer poll-- those which
may have been used as a hunter's belt axe might also fit in the tomahawk catagory. Belt axes and small tomahawks are
terms used interchangably sometimes.
Ordinary polled axes used as tools are not decorated with filings,
marks or other purely decorative features and overall patterns. Remember that just because it is a polled axe that
was hand forged more than 150-250 years ago does not make it a tomahawk. Polled axes/hatchets had many more uses than as a
weapon. Collectors can often convince themselves that they all could have been used as a weapon
but who are they really fooling?
Atributes of polled tomahawks:
~ elongated polls 2.5-3" or more;
~ decorative filings, decorations
~ blades often shaped like pipe
~ thin eye walls
~ poll angled downward slightly
& widens toward end is a common pattern
~light weight close to 1 lb. range.
~ forged iron