Native American Hallmarks – Inherited Belt Buckle

Hi, I inherited a very old and beautiful large, silver, turquoise and coral belt buckle.  The first and last name are engraved on the back.  The first name is Emerson, but the last name is hard to read.  It may be Ralson, or Ratson.  Do you have any idea how I can find out more about the origin of this item?  I’ve sent you photos of the belt buckle. Any information about this buckle will be greatly appreciated. It was my late father-in-law’s buckle. I’m the western horse rider in the family and it means a lot to me to wear the buckle, in honor of my father-in-law.Thank you! Sheryl

Vintage Navajo Belt Buckle

Vintage Navajo Belt Buckle

Hi Sheryl,

That engraved signature on the back is “Emerson Ration”. The last name Ration is a Navajo family name – there are several members in my hallmark book including one “E. Ration” who signed some of his pieces with a stamp in Gothic letters E. RATION. A first name is not given for E. Ration but it could be Emerson. Artists often sign their pieces several ways and it could be that after he made the belt buckle, he decided to sign it or was asked to sign it by whoever purchased it and once it was made, he couldn’t stamp the back (it would have damaged the stones on the front) so he chose to use an engraver. That is my best guess.

But it could also be that he signed his pieces with an engraver early in his silversmithing career and then moved to the Gothic stamp.

If it is the E. Ration in my hallmark book, here is some more information on him:

Silversmith for Bernie Dominguez. First used this hallmark in 1975.

To me the buckle is made in the style of those from the 1970s, especially the type of coral used. Here is a bolo tie from the same era.

Vintage Navajo Bolo Tie

Vintage Navajo Bolo Tie

By the way, one of our favorite contemporary artists is Bennie Ration. Here are a few examples of his work.

Sterling Silver and Turqoise Kachina Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Sterling Silver and Turqoise Kachina Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Sterling Silver and Turquoise Feather Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Sterling Silver and Turquoise Feather Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Calendaria Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Calendaria Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pendant by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Fox Mountain Turquoise and Sterling Silver Necklace by Bennie Ration, Navajo

Fox Mountain Turquoise and Sterling Silver Necklace by Bennie Ration, Navajo

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