FROG EFFIGY PIPE
This beautiful late Stone Age effigy pipe probably dates to the Late Mississippian period sometime between A.D. 1250 & A.D. 1350. It was found by W. McAdams in 1887 while digging in one of the mounds on the bluffs overlooking East St. Louis, Illinois. He described his find and wrote: "This last old Mound-Builder had in the grave with him his alter pipe, or smoking-maker, from a beautiful red stone, and representing a huge bullfrog, which in its right forefoot or hand a curious sort of mace, or scepter-like handle, surmounted at its upper end with a ball or globe". In this same mound he also wrote about finding "another of these Mound-Builder's crown-like head-dresses of copper, that had been ornamented with pearls and pretty figures from pearl shell".
The "Rattler Frog Pipe" is one of the most spectacular animal effigy pipes ever found in southern Illinois. It was skillfully carved with realistic features but what makes it unique is the object it's holding in the right front foot.
One comparison that has been made with the object that is held in this frog's foot is with the Rattler figure pipes from Spiro Mounds. Those pipes all involve human figures with rattles in their left hands or sometimes with a fringed object in their right hand. These fringed objects sometimes have streamers that might relate to the vertical parallel lines engraved just below the object or rattle on this pipe.
Recent investigations by Dr. Thomas E. Emerson and Randall E.
Huges of Univ. of Illinois at Urbana and the Illinois State Geological
Survey are helping to identify the material these red stone pipes are made
of. Their research in geologic sourcing through x-ray diffraction and
spectroscopic analysis of Mississippian red stone pipes from southern
Illinois have shown that none of these pipes were made of bauxite or even
catlinite as have been previously reported. They have identified the
material this pipe and other examples were made of as flint clay or fire
clay from local sources in Missouri. It's a clay that has been
geologically compressed into a stone that can be carved into pipes. It's
also a material that is compatible with high heat.