Bear Paw Ring – Do You Have Info on the Hallmark?

Hi Paula,

I have a ring with a hallmark that is listed on this site
http://www.art-amerindien.com/signature_picto-hallmarks.htm#inconnu as
an unknown (it’s the one marked 007).

Capture

It appears to be a Hopi-style  overlay ring with a bear claw motif.  I just wondered if you had any  better information on it.
Thanks! V

bearclawring bearclawringfrontHi V,

Although this could be described as Hopi style, I am not convinced it is Hopi made. I don’t see this hallmark in any of my books including Hopi Silver which is where it would appear if it was Hopi. Also I have never seen that style of textured background, either Navajo or Hopi.

Perhaps someone else recognizes the hallmark or the unusual texturizing of the background of the ring.

Paula

I missed out on this buckle – help me find another Paula

Hello
I recently missed out on purchasing this buckle. I really like the style and was hoping that you may know the maker and could point me in the right direction to find something similar.
buckle has two hallmarks, one is the sun face, other is a hammer or stamper in motion. I looked and looked for the hallmark, could be one of the unknown hallmarks out there. I know there are a few well known Native America silversmiths who use the Sun face hallmark. the buckle measures 2 3/4″ x 2″ wide. In beautiful condition, notice the way the sterling silver has been laid on top to form the designs there are only a few Native Americans who do this type of design. Many Thanks

Jim RL-2486_1L untitledHi Jim,

I’ve learned the hard way a few times. When it comes to Native American made jewelry, if you see something you like, you should buy it because it is likely you might never see the same thing again – this is especially true of vintage items.

Overlay pieces are made of two layers. The bottom sterling silver layer is a solid piece. The top sterling silver layer has a design of a scene, figures or symbols meticulously cut out and then placed over the bottom layer. The two pieces are “sweated” together, that is heated, so that they become one. The bottom layer is the background behind the cutouts and is traditionally darkened (oxidized) for contrast. The result is a 3-D picture with great depth and interest.

The bottom oxidized layer (background to the cutout) might be smooth or accented with hash marks. The Navajo silversmiths usually leave the oxidized background smooth like the Sunface pendant by Charlton Lindsay shown below.

Native American Navajo  Sterling Silver Sunface pendant

Hopi Sterling Silver kokopilli belt buckle

Hopi silversmiths etch the background (texturize it) with hashmarks before oxidizing it, like the kokopelli maze buckle by Joe Josytewa shown at left.

As far as the hallmark on the buckle you missed out on, according to Hopi Silver by Margaret Nickelson Wright, variations of the sunface hallmark are associated with a number of independent Hopi artists as well as a quite a few members of the Hopi Silvercraft Guild. The Guild is an association located at the Second Mesa which began producing silverwork in 1949 and continues to the present. Each smith has his own guild stamp, and although all look similar since they are sunfaces, no two are alike. There are a number of examples in Hopi Silver and none look exactly like the one on the buckle you wrote about.

As far as finding something similar, we have a number of outstanding Hopi buckles on this page.

NBU184-koko-maze-josytewa-1Paula

PS. An observant reader pointed out that the buckle depicted a bird when flipped over. She saw an Thunderbird. I see an eagle from the Hopi Eagle Clan.

buckle flipped

Help with Identifying 1970′s Cuff Watch Maker and Lists of Hallmarks

Paula,
I bought a Leagus Ahiyite Thunderbird pin/pendant from you a couple of years ago (to match one given to my mother in 1974-5). I bought it as a surprise gift for my sister so she could have one just like I have, of my mother’s. Perhaps you remember my story.
thunderbird-swingingC-1
My Dad, still living at 91 and missing my mom so much, has a mid-70′s Navajo watch cuff with Morenci turquoise stones, that goes with a matching ‘set’ (ring, bolo, buckle) that he bought in Arizona in 1974-1975 —same time he bought the Ahiyite Pin/pendant. My Dad asked me to see if I could find out the name of the artist/silversmith who made his set, but I have been searching for a couple of years, and so far have been unable to find out the silversmith who uses that hallmark/signature. The hallmark on it is like two bird-wing symbols, top one flying, bottom one upside down. .
Do you recognize this at all? ….or have any idea who the artist was?
Thank you
(PS: and my sister treasures her duplicate Ahiyite pendant!!!)
Susi
Hallmark two wings for Susan
Hi Susi,
Of course I remember that great story of the twin Thunderbirds and the surprise for your sister !! Just love it !! Although the one I posted above is not exactly like the twins, I wanted to include it to commemorate the tale.
Now as far as your father gorgeous watch and ring, bolo, buckle – wow !
But I have not seen the hallmark before. It seems to be related to clouds to me yet one is upside down.
I looked through all of my hallmark books very thoroughly and do not see it.
There is a site that list hallmarks and one of them has a photo of the hallmark, asking for others to help identify it !
It is #87 toward the bottom of this page

Indian Native American Jewelry Artists
 & South West Shop Hallmarks- Symbols

While I am listing hallmark links, here are two links to a list of hallmarks that use letters.

Indian Native American Jewelry Artists
 & South West Shop Hallmarks A to L

Indian Native American Jewelry Artists
 & South West Shop Hallmarks, M to Z

Perhaps one of the readers of this blog might know the hallmark. Or you can watch the Symbols hallmark page I listed above to see if someone adds the name to the hallmark on your dad’s set.

Paula

More Hallmark References for Native American Jewelry Aficianados !

American Indian Jewelry
Volumes I, II and III
by Gregory Schaaf
Assisted by Angie Yan Schaaf
Publisher: Center for Indigenous Arts & Cultures

Hard cover with dust jacket
Comes shrink wrapped
9″ x 11″
Printed in color on heavy glossy stock

These are HUGE wonderfully produced books – hard bound with dust jackets, heavy paper, full cover, beautiful photography. 5 pounds

You can purchase them in our store. Click any photo.

AmIndianJewelry-set-500w

From the publisher on volume 1:

This volume profiles over 1,200 Indian jewelers from all tribes over the past two centuries. The text is illustrated with over 2,000 photographs. This book was created with the cooperation of Indian artists. Through artist surveys, archival research and personal interviews, information was collected in 25 categories: including the artist’s tribe, clan, active years, type of jewelry, lifespan, family relationships, education, teachers, students, awards, exhibitions, collections, forms, techniques, materials, favorite designs, and publications. Websites and email addresses were listed when possible. Many completed a personal statement, “I enjoy creating artwork, because…” Some wrote or narrated autobiographical statements.

AmIndianJewelry-I-300w

From the publisher on volumes 2 and 3:

This is a standard reference for American Indian jewelry, a source for factual information, neatly organized and lavishly illustrated in full color. This is not a revision of our bestseller, American Indian Jewelry I, but a completely new manuscript, organized in two volumes, A-L and M-Z. Look up any one of over 5,000 American Indian Jewelers in seconds.

Each profile identifies the artist by tribe, clan, active years, styles, lifespan, residences, education, teachers, students, awards, exhibitions, demonstrations, collections, photographs, and publications. Many profiles feature original quotations from the artists, as well as comments from scholars, collectors and veterans in the field. Personal portrait pictures and close-ups of their jewelry help to bring their biographies to life.

AmIndianJewelry-II-300w

From the publisher:

American Indian Jewelry II: A-L provides two new features:

The Hallmark Directory offers high resolution, digital close-ups. Many Native American jewelers stamp their work with personal, pictographic symbols or initials. This feature helps identify jewelers.

The Natural Turquoise Directory helps one identify turquoise in Native American jewelry. This is important because the best – Gem-Quality, High-Grade – natural turquoise is valuable. Keys to identification help identify over 25 by specific mines, chosen in a worldwide vote by veteran turquoise collectors.

AmIndianJewelry-III-300w

From the publisher:

American Indian Jewelry III provides three important features:
1. a color spread illustrating Classic and Classic Revival jewelry;
2. a continuation of the “Hallmark Directory” in high-resolution;
3. and new categories for social networks and email addresses.

Furthermore, extensive genealogical research was conducted. The National Archives released the 1940 U.S. Census and the 1930s Indian Census records. Each artist’s family also was more thoroughly researched with the aid of computerized genealogical services.

Paula

Southwest Art Defined

I was contacted a while back about permission to use one of the photos from our website in a book. I gave that permission and then forgot about it.

So I was surprised when we received a thank you note and complimentary copy of  a lovely new book “Southwest Art Defined: An Illustrated Guide” by Margaret Moore Booker and published by Rio Nuevo Publishers.

It is a beautiful 11″ x 9 1/4″ hardbound book with dust jacket. Here is what the publisher says

Southwest Art Defined, by Santa Fe author Margaret Moore Booker, is now available! This beautiful hardcover book brings the traditional arts of the Southwest are brought together in one volume for the first time. Almost 500 comprehensive descriptions of Native American and Hispano art are accompanied by 370 full-color photographs of art from museums, galleries, and private collections. Lose yourself in the stunning pottery, textiles, jewelry, carvings, and architecture of the Southwest.

southwest art defined cover

The Origin of the Bolo Tie

Origin of the Bolo Tie

Silversmith Victor Cedarstaff of Wickenburg, Arizona, claims to have invented the bolo tie in 1948.

According to an article in Sunset magazine:

Victor Cedarstaff was riding his horse one day when his hat blew off. Wary of losing the silver-trimmed hatband, he slipped it around his neck. His companion joked, “That’s a nice-looking tie you’re wearing, Vic.” An idea incubated, and Cedarstaff soon fashioned the first bola tie (the name is derived from boleadora, an Argentine lariat).

184932_1000

Boleadoras or bolas (from Spanish bola, “ball”) are throwing weapons made of weights attached to the end of cords.

However, it is also said that the bolo tie is a North American pioneer creation that dates back to between 1866 and 1886. There is a bolo tie on display at a trading post in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, said to date back that far.

BOL23-turq-lewis-1

A recent exhibit at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona entitled Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary generated renewed interest in bolos.

This is from the Heard Museum:

The distinctive tie originated in the Southwest, and its popularity quickly spread throughout the West and in many other parts of the country. The necktie has been made even more distinguished by contemporary American Indian artists in Arizona, who make bolo ties that are exquisite expressions of individuality and ingenuity.

BBN15-bolo-roadrunner-2

Bolo ties, representing the casual nature and somewhat rugged milieu of the West, emerged as a form of men’s neckwear in the 1940s. They directly countered business suits as well as the formality suits represented, and instead marked a different style and a different way of life. In particular, American Indian jewelers and silversmiths brought individuality and creativity to this art form, offering a broad range of unique and artistic options.

BOL32-inlay-yazzie-1

Western wear, including the bolo tie, was popularized through 1950s television shows and movies. Some TV and movie personalities who brought scarf slides and bolo ties into the everyday vernacular include the Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. Bolo ties have been created by American Indian jewelers since the late 1940s and they continue to create them today.

BOL28-turq-cluster-wilson-1

The bolo tie’s road to acquiring the status of Arizona’s official neckwear took place over several years. KOOL Channel 10′s anchor Bill Close and five other bolo tie enthusiasts met in 1966 at the Westward Ho Hotel in downtown Phoenix. From the beginning, their intent was to make the bolo tie a state emblem. Perhaps to help the cause, Arizona Highways Magazine devoted several pages of its October 1966 issue to Southwestern jewelry, including bolo ties. Help arrived when Governor Jack Williams proclaimed the first week of March 1969 as “Bolo Tie Week.” After several unsuccessful attempts, a bill making the bolo tie the official state neckwear was finally passed on April 22, 1971. The bolo tie is also the official neckwear of New Mexico and Texas, although Arizona was the first state to designate it as such.

S420-onyx-buckle-bolo-yazzie-1

Native American Award for Valor, Courage and Bravery

Is there a Native American symbol awarded to great warriors for valor, courage, and bravery in battle much like the Silver or Bronze Stars awarded to soldiers? If not, can you make a suggestion? Thank you very much.

Wess

Hi Wess,

A Lakota friend of mine sent me this. I hope it is helpful. You can browse our feather hair ties here. Feather Hair Ties. Paula

The Spiral in Native American Jewelry and Artifacts

As Hurricane Sandy looms on the east cost of the US, I started noticing spirals everywhere.

Scott Skeets petroglyph ring

Spiral

The spiral is one of the oldest symbols used by humans. It appeared thousands of years ago in southwestern Native American tribal areas on cave walls and on ancient pottery.

Spirals to the Zunis and Puebloans represent water, wind and creatures associated with water such as snails and serpents.

It also represents man’s  “ journey in search of the center”.

From Petroglyphs, Keam’s Canyon, Hopi Mesas, Arizona “It is a decoration of great frequency and consisting of single and double spirals. The single spiral is the symbol of Ho-bo-bo, the twister who manifests his power by the whirlwind. The myth explains that a stranger came among the people, when a great whirlwind blew all the vegetation from the surface of the earth and all the water from its courses. With a flint, he caught these symbols upon a rock, the etching of which is now in Keam’s Canyon. It is 17 inches long and 8 inches across. He told them he was the keeper of the breath. The whirlwind and the air which men breathe come from this keeper’s mouth.”

The spiral also symbolized a way of planting, starting at the center and moving out in circles as they planted. In Navajo it was called ha’oolmaaz

Be safe brothers and sisters.

Paula – What is my Squash Blossom Necklace Worth?

Every week I receive over a dozen queries such as this:

Hi Paula,
I have a necklace that belongs to my sister. Her husband died, and she is trying to liquidate some of her assets. Where can I find out how much it is worth, and where can I sell it for her? We have been to the local jewelers, and he said it was silver. It has several turquoise stones. I think it is called a squash necklace. Thank you for your help, June

Usually I reply suggesting the person read this article which provides much valuable information about selling used Native American jewelry to us.

Do we Buy Native American Jewelry?

It outlines the process we use and it also lists the various factors that affect price.

  • Authenticity

  • Documentation

  • Hallmarks

  • The artist’s reputation

  • The scarcity of the artist’s work

  • The age of the piece

  • The quality of workmanship

  • The condition (see specifics below)

  • The weight of sterling silver and gold used

  • The quality and size of the stones used

  • The overall aesthetics of the piece.

In addition, the scale of the piece will also affect price. Many people today shop for items of wearable art so look for pieces that aren’t too large, long or heavy. Many squash blossom necklaces are beautiful but are too much necklace for many people to wear. The same goes for some of the masterpiece bracelets – beautiful to look at but impractical to wear.

Size also is a big factor – we have a good idea of what sizes of bracelets and rings sell the best for us and also the length of necklaces that are most popular. We take all of these things into consideration.

It is not uncommon for someone to write us hoping an item will bring $1500 when in fact its current value is about $300. Really the best way to find value is to send or take the item to a person experienced and knowledgeable about Native American jewelry.  (If you take your items to a pawn shop, if the items are sterling silver, you will likely be offered scrap or melt value. That will be the subject of a future article.)

If you don’t want to ship the items and you don’t have a local expert, one good way to get an idea of what your item would sell for is to use eBay as a reference tool. The eBay marketplace will give you a rough idea of retail value since most of the shoppers there are individuals like you.  There are very specific ways to drill down to an accurate market value of a piece.

First log on to eBay

In the search box type in a description that you think another seller might use to describe your piece.

Let’s use “turquoise squash blossom necklace”.  Type that in and then click on Search. In my example you’ll see that search turned up 497 items. (By the way, if you are having trouble reading these screen shots of eBay, hit CTRL +++ to enlarge the font on your screen.)

In the left hand column, under categories, click on Ethnic, Regional and Tribal

That reduces the group to 324 items.

In the left hand column, click on Native American

That reduces the group to 301 items.

This shows the items currently for sale that are like your item. You can browse through this list to see what sellers are currently ASKING for their pieces but a MUCH BETTER  way to learn what your item is worth, is the following.

Next to the blue SEARCH button in the upper right of the screen is the word Advanced. Click on that.

It will take you to this screen.

Look for the section that is headed

Search including (at the bottom of the above screen shot)

and click on the box in front of

Completed listings

This will take you to a page (in my example) with 912 items that were listed with the words “turquoise squash blossom necklace” and were in the Native American category and that either sold or went unsold within the last  60 days. If you have your eBay window set to show 100 items per page, you will have 9 long pages to scroll through !!  Get that cup of coffee !

As you browse note this. Toward the right hand side of each listing, if the price is in red that means the item didn’t get a single bid and didn’t sell.

If the item price is green and there is a SOLD box near it, that means the item sold for that price.

When you find an item that looks similar to yours, you can click on the item and it will take you to that item’s individual page where you can find out more information such as age, whether sterling, weight, condition, hallmarks and you can usually see a number of better close-up photos to help you compare the item to the one you are trying to evaluate. Cracked stones, missing pieces and other damage really lower an item’s price.

So if you see a similar item to yours and it sold for $100, that give you a ballpark idea of what the market will bear – what your item is worth out there in the real world of buyers.  What the market is willing to pay.

If you see a similar item to your own that has a price of $800 but the item is UNSOLD, all that tells you is that someone asked $800 for it but didn’t get it. Often when you scroll through listings you will see the same item appear several times  – as each auction expires, the item goes unsold and the seller relists it.  You might see the price lowering over time or the seller might invite offers with the Best Offer feature.

The bottom line is, the best way to find out what your items are worth is to find a person knowledgeable and experienced in Native American jewelry. You can also use eBay to help you get a ball park figure on what an item similar to yours has sold for in the recent past.

Best of luck and soon I will write an article about melt value and another with advice on what listing your item on eBay entails.

 Enjoy that beautiful jewelry !! Paula

 

Native American Artist and Hallmark Books

Hi Paula,

Is there some kind of publication that gives information on Navajo silversmiths similar to the publication on fetishes?

This is a family heritage that should be preserved .

Thanks.  Ruth D

Hi Ruth,

Great question. Here are the books I know of that name artists, give their hallmarks, a little bio and sometimes some examples of their work. We have many other books here on Native American jewelry but these are the ones I refer to most often to research estate and pawn items. I’m sure there are more that other readers might suggest.

Hallmarks of the Southwest
Barton Wright
9″ x 11″ hardbound book
271 pages
Has drawn hallmarks and brief bio of many Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists

The Little Book of Marks on Southwestern Silver: Silversmiths, Designers, Guilds and Traders
Billie Hougart
9″ x 6″ paperback book
459 pages
Has photos of hallmarks and brief bios of many Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists.

Hopi Silver: The History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing
Margaret Nickelson Wright
9 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ paperback book
147 pages
Has 73 page history with photos
The balance of the book is a Chronological Listing of Hopi Artists and Hallmarks. Hallmarks are drawn

American Indian Jewelry I: 1,200 Artist Biographies
Gregory Schaaf
11″ x 9″ hardbound book
342 pages
Highly illustrated with black and white and color photos of jewelry and artists. Bios range from a few sentences to a few pages.

American Indian Jewelry II: A-L  1,800 Artist Biographies
Gregory Schaaf
11″ x 9″ hardbound book
400 pages
Highly illustrated with mostly color photos of jewelry and artists. Bios range from a few sentences to a few pages.

(Note American Indian Jewelry III M-Z is in production)