The Rare 1878 Peck & Snyder Broadhead

Recently I attended the Compton Traditional Rendezvous hosted by the Compton Traditional Bowhunters at the Berrien County Sportsman Club in St Joseph, MI. This was a three-day gathering of dedicated recurve and longbow shooters.  If you like to shoot a bow and arrow, plan a trip to this annual outing. If you presently shoot a compound bow and are interested in learning about the traditional shooting, this is a must-attend event that will fire you up to add another dimension to your archery fun. The 2010 event is June 19-20. Check out the Compton Traditional Bowhunters Rendezvous.

The night before the event started wind took down the football-field size tent used to house the many dealer displays. Luckily no one was injured but I did hear of venders losing some of their equipment. Weather again turned ugly on Friday night and sent torrents of wind pushed rain through the county. The area was mud-soaked but I didn’t hear one person complain. The crowd of archers was there to enjoy the weekend gathering and that is what they did.

Broadhead Article

I heard many comments from old-timers like myself, comparing this event and weather, to the weather, mud and rain at the annual gathering at the Bowhunter Nationals in Clinton, IN.  It brought back fond memories of the largest bowhunting event of the 1970’s and 80’s. The Bowhunter Nationals were later moved to Aurora, IL.  And yes, on occasion Aurora was a bit wet too. Did I hear any complaints then? No. We all got a week-end to shoot our bows and gather together with friends from across the country. What a great sport.

Compton offered four 3-D ranges and many novelty shoots for the gathered archers. One of my favorites was the aerial shoot at flying disks. Kids were well entertained with a ballon shoot, 3-D, clay bird, and CD targets.

Broadhead Article

I didn’t attend all of the events but did scour the merchandise in the vendor’s tent. The array of traditional bows and arrows was like attending an art festival. The craftsmanship of hand-made bows and arrows is a sight to behold. Some of America’s best bowyers were selling and taking orders for longbows, recurves and even primitive bows.

For those who like to make their own equipment, there were plenty of vendors selling shafts, feathers, tools, along with bow staves and backing material.

One of the main reasons I wanted to attend this year’s Rendezvous was for the annual gathering of the American Broadhead Collectors Club. I joined the club in the 70’s and was very active in trading events each year. I collect not only broadheads but all vintage archery gear and memorabilia.

Broadhead Article

Compton Traditional Rendezvous attendees looking at some of the broadhead collections from the American Broadhead Collectors Club.

Broadhead Article

In my collection, I have many pictures of myself with friends I’ve made in the archery industry. Many are no longer with us but the memories of these great people will last forever. I collect longbows, recurve bows, and early compound bows. I have hats, quivers, archery decals, patches, catalogs, and books. The list goes on and on.

I was the regional sales manager for Golden Eagle Archery and several other archery and hunting companies throughout the 70’s and 80’s. I traveled the midwest and called on hundreds of archery shops. I picked up broadheads and other collectibles everywhere I stopped.

One of the items I collected is a very old arrow with an Indian trader point and carved horn nock. I put this arrow in my display case with my other Indian made arrows. I display these arrows and most of my broadhead collection on my indoor archery range at my store, Freddie Bear Sports in Tinley Park, IL.

A few months ago Tom Czarnopys from Chicago, an avid collector and  ABCC member stopped by to see my collection. That old arrow caught his attention. He asked me about it. I told him it was Indian made. He corrected me and told me I had an arrow and broadhead made by Peck & Snyder from New York. The broadhead is pictured in the 1878 book, The Modern Archer.

Tom has a Peck and Snyder in his collection. He told me about the illustration in the book which is an actual advertisement for the 1878 broadhead. Tom asked if he could bring in his re-print of The Modern Archer book and compare the life-size drawing of the broadhead with the one in my case.

There are known Peck and Snyder broadheads but no one has ever found one that duplicates the exact size and description of their 1878 ad.  Of course I said yes.

A couple weeks later Tom came in with The Modern Archer. This book was published in 1878 and has the first known advertisement for a commercially made broadhead. It is in the Peck & Snyder catalog in the back of the book. It is listed as “Steel-pointed Indian Arrow Heads (See cut…”


We laid my broadhead on the picture. It is the exact size. Tom asked if I was going to the Compton shoot and ABCC gathering. I smiled and said I probably would. Tom called last week to confirm if I was going. I said yes and told him I would bring my arrow.

I did some research and found out that I might have the Holy Grail of broadheads. If it was the same exact broadhead illustrated and sold by Peck and Snyder in 1878, it would be the first one ever to surface.

Wade Phillips from Boys Town, NE. wrote this about the broadhead in his book, Broadheads 1871-1971 Identification and Rarity Guide for the Most Collectible Antique Archery Broadheads, on page 20, “To date, this exact head remains unfound. The 1886 Peck & Snyder catalog illustrates a broadhead with a slightly different tang, but with the same description. Some collectors believe that the Peck & Snyder has been found. However, the tang of these heads does not match the Peck & Snyder illustrations, because it more closely resembles the head on a 1800s E. I. Horseman arrow.”

broadheads collection

At the ABCC gathering I showed the arrow to several members and compared it to the other Peck & Snyder broadheads. When I handed my arrow to Wade Phillips he examined it and looked at me and said, “You just made my weekend! The 1878 Peck & Snyder, as illustrated, does exist!”

Wade told me he is doing a story of the Peck & Snyder and this broadhead surfacing makes the story come full circle. Wade took some pictures of my arrow and we took pictures of his and my Peck & Snyder side by side. I also took pictures of my arrow with other collectors Peck and Snyder arrows.


Fred’s 1878 Peck and Snyder broadhead is the one on the bottom.

If Wade thinks this made his weekend, how do you think I feel. This is a great piece of archery history, but the best part of the weekend is the gathering and the time I got to spend with old acquaintances and meeting of new friends. Archery is a great sport.

I am still adding to my collection. If you have any vintage broadheads, arrows, books, bows, Bear Archery and Fred Bear items, etc you would like to trade or sell, give me a call. Better yet, stop by my store, Freddie Bear Sports, 17250 Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park, IL 60477. Or Phone 708-532-4133. I can never have enough archery collectibles or new friends.

Life is good,