Bell Trading Company History and Hallmarks

The Bell Trading Company was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1935 by Jack Michelson and his wife Mildred. They sold Native American Indian jewelry at various tourist locations in the southwestern United States until the late 1980s.

Their main competitor was Maisel’s Indian Trading Post.

The Bell company got its name from Jack’s wife, whose maiden name was Bell.

The types of jewelry sold by Bell Trading included sterling silver, nickel silver, gold, and copper.

Over the years numerous hallmarks were used on items sold by Bell Trading. The hallmarks typically included the image of a bell or that of an arrow sign post with a bell sign hanging from it. Shown here a just a few of Bell Trading Company’s hallmarks.

Bell Trading Company  hallmark   Bell Trading Company  hallmark   Bell Trading Company  hallmark  Bell Trading Company  hallmark

Bell Trading Company  hallmark     Bell Trading Company  hallmark   Bell Trading Company  hallmark

In 1972 the company name was changed to Sunbell Corp. and items including giftware and moccasins were added to the jewelry inventory. Sunbell’s hallmark below.

sunbell cropped

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43 thoughts on “Bell Trading Company History and Hallmarks

  1. Pingback: While metal detecting found a vintage Boy Scount Badge or Native American pin? « Native American Jewelry Tips

  2. I found a very sweet mother of Pearl ring stamped with “Bell Sterling” with a bell in the center with Bell above and Sterling below in a circle.

    Thanks for the info….have any idea how old this ring may be?

  3. Thank you for helping me identify the Bell Trading Post hallmark on a copper bracelet from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. I purchased it second-hand many years ago because I attended the fair at age 5 and didn’t have a souvenier. I now need to sell it and knowing the hallmark certainly adds value. I grew up in Puyallyup, WA — a Native American area — and was glad to learn that this equisite bracelet was also crafted by Native Americans

  4. i’d like more information about my ring. I bought it in 1976 and a friend is convinced it is Bell and probably made by a Navajo artist. I’ve worn it and loved it for a long time.

  5. some years ago I found a bracelet in an old junk shop in Australia. One day I decided to go through my junk shop finds of which I have a trunk full, and found the bracelet something made me look it up. It looked American Indian I found it was made by the Bell Company and is post war the large turquoise is real. I have never been able to find a bracelet to fit me in my life yet this fits perfectly. There was a picture of the exact bracelet on the internet and it said it was the only one and was sold already. I was so pleased with my find.

    Georgia

  6. i was given a turquoise ring stamped ” bell sterling ” in a circle around the bell. how would i tell what time frame it was made in?

  7. There was a California based competitor to Sunbell and Maisel active in the ’70s and early ’80′s making turquoise rings and bracelets. Do you remember that company’s name and/or have their hallmarks? I sold goods from all 3 firms in the 70′s..

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  9. Hi, I came across a hair accessory of the Bell Trading Company and was wondering if I could get some more info about it. May I send you a picture?

  10. We have a cpl charm bracelets that have multiple charms with the Bell Stamp. We were curious to know if they are collectibles? Worth anything?

  11. I came across some native american jewelry that belonged to my grandmother and maybe even my great grandmother who was full native american. The ring i have a question about is sterling silver with turquoise and inside its stamped Sterling with the Bell Trading Post hallmark. The hallmark is a arrow sign post with the arrow pointing left with a sign hanging from it with what looks to be a small dot inside it. I was wondering what the age of this ring was. Any help would be much appreciated.

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  13. Thats really interesting! I got an old turquoise ring on Etsy and i noticed it had the bell& arrow hallmark on it, now i know where its from!

  14. Thanks for the interesting post! I went to an antique store today and picked up a lovely copper pendant and chain. It’s stamped on the back with the bell image and the words “Copper” and “Bell” I poked around the internet and couldn’t find anything similar, so I’m not even sure this piece really came from the Bell Trading Company. I’d love to know more about it if you have a moment. Also, I’d be happy to send you some pictures. Thanks!

  15. Great site, I learned alot just going thru and reading the posts. Is there anyway to tell on the Bell Trading Co. pieces which tribe or artist it might be from and maybe time period it was made? Thank you

    • Since Bell Trading Co. employed many workers over a period of years, it would be difficult to impossible to attribute a particular person to a piece. Most were Navajo. Also it would be difficult to pin down the exact time period other than what I mention in the article.

  16. Pingback: Ear Cuffs and other Stuff……..any ideas? | Native American Jewelry Tips

  17. I have a Bell Nickel Silver & Turquiose money clip, do you know how much it might be worth? it’s in very good condition, almost no discoloration, and still very shiny.

  18. Pingback: What Bell markings are on this copper bracelet? | Native American Jewelry Tips

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  20. I have a sterling pin bearing the bell shaped logo encircled by the word sterling. I remember it from my childhood (i am 71) – it belonged to my mother. it’s different from the Indian motiff in that it is a bowlegged cowboy wearing a 10-gallon hat, chaps, neck bandana, and pistols. I’ve dubbed him “Pistol Pete”. It is about 2″ in height. Are these early pieces “collectibles”?

  21. Hello. I purchased a vintage Bell Trading Company ring recently. We have identified it as the Lion’s Head. I was wondering if you could please help us identifying the era it was manufactured based on it’s hallmark. Thank you for your time.

    Alicia

  22. Pingback: Bell Trading Company History and Hallmarks | Native American Encyclopedia

  23. Pingback: Origin of Stamped Cuff Bracelet please………. | Native American Jewelry Tips

  24. Hi,
    I have a very pretty turquoise ring that is stamped:
    Circle O
    Or circle O.W.
    I was wondering if you could tell me more about the stamp/maker. Thank you.
    April

  25. I just identified the hallmark on my sterling silver ring having a thunder-bird on each side.
    the stone is a rectangle of fire agate. For ten years I’ve been stumped! The mark is a
    sign post with arrow and a hanging bell sign. From what time period is this mark?

  26. While going through my fathers “keepsake” box I found a ring that I’ve been able to identify as a Bell Trading Post ring, thanks to your descriptions above of the hallmarks. It has the signpost/arrow with the bell sign hanging from it, with the word sterling beside it. However, I cannot identify the stone. It’s black or possibly navy, perfectly round and polished. Any ideas on what it may be? My father has asked me to identify whatever I can of his keepsakes.

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