I wonder if you know anything about this old buckle. Tony
It is chip inlay.
Chip inlay is a method where cavities in jewelry are filled with a mixture of crushed stone, typically turquoise and coral, and epoxy resin. The piece is then polished smooth after the resin has hardened. Navajo Tommy Singer is credited for first using chip inlay in Native American jewelry.
It is of a peyote or water bird – you can read about that symbol by clicking this phrase.
It is likely by Tommy Singer, Navajo silversmith. Here are some articles about other Tommy Singer pieces.
The snake in some Native American cultures represents speed and swiftness, the same properties as lightning or the lightning arrow and they often have a similar visual form. The snake does not symbolize anything negative or treacherous. Rather, the snake represents abundant rainfall, fertility and healing. Snake symbols are rarely seen in Navajo jewelry and art but are often used by Zuni.
We here in northern Colorado live with snakes on a seasonal basis – they are part of the landscape and ecosystem. Since our climate is semi-arid, we welcome the abundant rainfall the snake might bring.
Native American designs, garments and jewelry are always popular, with many new admirers attracted to them every day.
While other fashion trends might come and go, the meaningful Native American symbols, designs, and materials which are tied to Mother Earth and all of her creatures and cycles and powers are alluring and enduring.
We encourage you, whenever possible, to purchase authentic Native American jewelry and clothing made by Native American craftsmen.
In that way, you will be helping to preserve the traditions by supporting the traditionalists.
What a diverse group of belts I’ve been researching this week. Here are a few samples from the White Buffalo Collection.
The word concho comes from the Spanish “concha” which actually means “conch” or “seashell” but has come to mean round or oval disks (occasionally rectangles) of silver used to decorate saddles, bridles, clothing, used as jewelry such as for pendants and bolo ties and for adorning or making belts.
Concho belts are a long-time Navajo tradition yet it has been suggested that the Navajo borrowed conchos from Mexican tack items or from the Plains Indians.
The earliest conchos were silver dollars that were hammered, then stamped and edged, then slotted and strung together on a piece of leather.
Later in the evolution of concho belts, copper loops were added to the back of the conchos so that the conchos could be slipped onto a leather belt.
I have attached some images of the belt buckle. I would like to know who made the buckle – it has a marking of “EM” on the back. Also, I would like to know an estimate of its age. Thanks for your help!
Using the penny in your other photo as scale, it looks like this buckle is about 4″ x 4″, so what a nice chunk of beautiful turquoise that is !
Judging from the style and nice stone and the hallmark, I’d guess this is a 1970s Navajo made belt buckle.
I don’t know who EM is but we have had once piece with that hallmark in our pawn shop. I was unable to identify EM at that time and still don’t know !
Perhaps one of the readers of this blog might know.
Good treasure Ryan.
These are the photos of the Whirling Logs turquoise silver belt buckle I had e-mailed you about. The buckle is approx. 3 and 3/4 inches wide by 2 and 1/2 inches tall. The second photo — of the bear claw hallmark on the back — isn’t great, but I have no photo tweaking programs and I am about as computer illiterate as a person can be. I hope it will do. I don’t know what the black pen mark “135—” means on the back of the buckle; I inherited these items from my father and don’t know if that’s what he paid for it back in the 60s or 70s or what.
I would like to know more about the piece: its age, what the hallmark means, et al.
Thank you so much. Leigh
First of all, what a nice treasure to inherit from your father. I’ll mention some things I can tell from the photos and some things I can’t determine from photos.
First of all, whether or not this is sterling silver or a lesser silver (such as coin silver) or another metal can be determined by a simple acid test. Any jeweler can do this for you. Knowing the metal content will impact the value of the piece, so it is always good to know what you have that way. Reference “Not All Silver is Created Equal”.
As far as the stones, they appear to be natural turquoise stones set in smooth bezels. As far as what mine they would be from, I’d be guessing just using this one photo, but they are full of matrix and character and nicely placed. References “Types of Bezels” and “Turquoise Mines in the US” and “Green Turquoise”.
The magic marker number on the back is indeed the price. I’ve always thought that it is an odd way to mark a piece of art, but that has been the tradition with much Native American jewelry. So that is likely what the asking price was for the buckle back when your father purchased it. Whether or not he paid that much, we don’t know because negotiating prices on Native American jewelry is common with many buyers – almost a hobby with them.
The piece seems consistent with the era you suggest – 1960s to 1970s..
I’d say it is a Navajo made belt buckle.
The hallmark is similar to many Navajo and Hopi badger or bear track hallmarks I have seen yet I don’t know of one that is exactly like this one, so I am afraid I have come up empty on the artist.
The whirling log design is described in my article on that topic here on this blog. “Whirling Logs”
Enjoy that unique belt buckle !
I have a beautiful belt buckle by the Navajo artist, “Timothy Lee”. But, I can’t find any information about him anywhere, do you have anything by him or know of him??
Here is what it says in “Hallmarks of the Southwest” by Barton Wright.
Timothy Lee is a Navajo silversmith from the Mentmore, New Mexico region.
Hallmark is stamped full name in two lines of 1/16 Gothic print.
We have silver beads made by Betty Lee and Susie Lee.
And turquoise rings by Larson Lee.
Maybe someone else will write in with more information on Timothy Lee.
If you have a question about your jewelry, use the ASK PAULA A QUESTION feature in the right hand column of this blog.
I was given a very unique turquoise, coral and – not sure what the large center stone is (have been told different things including petrified wood) belt buckle years ago. The shape and silver work are highly unusual. The hallmark on the back is MT with something after the T that looks like a small crescent. Can I send a photo of front and back? Would love to identify artist!
That is a very unique buckle ! If it is stone, I’m thinking a jasper, perhaps picture jasper, but that’s just a guess.
I know of several MT hallmarks, and two have a rocker UNDER the MT but I don’t know of any with a crescent or rocker off to the side.
I thought I’d post this in case another reader might have some ideas.