William Singer, the brother of Charlie, Jackie and the late Tommy Singer, has used various hallmarks since 1972: SD (both side by side and offset as below), SDX, SDXX, SDV, S/D, all variations of the Singer-Dodge family shop hallmark.
Here is an example of William Singer’s chip inlay – a buffalo belt buckle.
Tommy Singer has been credited with first using chip inlay in 1970. His brother began using the technique in 1972.
What 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
I’ve replied to hundreds of your queries on hallmarks and now its my turn !! HELP !!
I wonder if any of you have seen this V/L hallmark before. See the photos for the hallmark and the buckle itself.
The buckle is from a collection we purchased from a gentleman who bought buckles over the last 10-40 years and kept them in a display case so they are NOS (New Old Stock). The prong on this buckle was shaky so we had the prong replaced – that is the only new part on it.
It is a Zuni inlay of Longhorn Kachina also known by and associated with other kachina names including Saiyatash, Sai-astasana, Zuni Rain Priest of the North, and Hututu. Some say that Longhorn Kachina is usually accompanied by his “Deputy” Hututu. They look quite similar.
Longhorn Kachina has a single long horn sticking off to the right side of his mask and is always seen with his distinctive black and white (striped or checkered) neck ruff.
He has a long left eye which is said to bring a long life to good people. In addition, he is called a hunter/warrior and the Rain Priest of the North who has the ability to control the weather.
I’ve researched the hallmark in all of my references and online and so far this is what I came up – it is NOT the same as either of these other VL hallmarks. Any ideas?
Since artists do change their hallmarks over the years and since one reader showed me a piece by Vera Luna that seems to be a match to this buckle, I will surmise, this buckle was made by Vera Luna. Here is the bolo. Except for the fact that the kachina on the buckle has one extra black feather, these are twins !
I have a Hopi belt buckle I purchased around 1986 at a gallery / art center on 2nd Mesa….I believe the hallmark is an R & A combined , where the bottom of the R has a horozontial line to look like an A ..Any idea who that might be.?
Thank you , Elaine
What a GREAT buckle !!
According to Hopi Silver by Margaret Nickelson Wright, that hallmark is attributed to Ramon (Albert Jr.) Dalangyawma who began silver work in 1978. He learned silversmithing at Hopicrafts which was a private enterprise from 1961-1983.
Ramon (Albert Jr.) Dalangyawma has a Navajo mother and Hopi father.
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hello, i have found this belt buckle it seems to be silver with turquoise chip inlay of a peyote bird. it has a makers mark on the back of what seems to be a face and i believe the letters rfi beside it. if you could help me identify the hallmard that would be great. I can send pictures if you need thank you again
I am not familiar with that hallmark but have posted it here in case someone else does.
Nice vintage peyote bird chip inlay belt buckle though !
The term “First Phase” is a historical term that refers to the early experimentation and development in jewelry by the southwestern Native American Indians.
It is generally though to be a period from approximately 1860-1900.
First Phase jewelery was made for personal use or for family or friends – it was not driven by commercial influences.
Sometimes First Phase is used to refer to the design styles from that era, so a bracelet made to look like a First Phase bracelet would be “First Phase Style” but not First Phase itself. This is an important distinction that should be used when describing items.
Between 1900-1930, tourism grew and Native American jewelry began being influenced by commercialism – what would sell. This is sometimes referred to as the Transitional Period.
To see more views of the items pictured and learn more about their estimated age, click on the photos.
This is the first in a series of repair articles that I am writing in conjunction with Diane from Old Town Trading Co. in Scottsdale, AZ. See contact information at the end of this article. We appreciate OTTC’s help and expertise in this series.
Is it possible to repair or restore Native American jewelry?
Yes, we have Native American Silversmiths working for us here on premises, who are accomplished artisans and expert repair people. We service repairs for customers and jewelers all over the United States.
How can we find out what you can do and how much it will cost?
You can photograph or scan your jewelry and email the picture to us. We can usually give you an idea of the repair needed and a ballpark estimate from your photo. If you decide to proceed, you then mail your jewelry to us. Once we receive the item and have a chance to thoroughly inspect it we call you with a firm price for the repairs.
Can you outline the procedure for this inlay buckle repair?
Inlay buckle showing missing pieces.
From the customer’s picture, we saw that 7 pieces of coral and shell were missing. An estimate for this repair was $85.00 plus $15 to return ship and insure. However, once we received the buckle, we found that the back of the buckle had serious cracks forming in the silver at two edges. It looked like the buckle had flexed back at that point, causing the tearing to begin. All of the missing stones were right on top of the bend – that’s no doubt why they popped out.
Back of buckle showing stress cracks from bending.
What do you do at that point?
Simply replacing the missing stones was still an option. However, once metal has bent, it “wants” to bend in that very same spot again, causing further damage to the piece. We suggested to the owner that our silversmith could solder a thicker sheet of silver to the back of the buckle, making it much stronger and resistant to any further flexing.
How is that done?
Our silversmith removes all of the stones from the front, as well as all of the pieces from the back (the buckle bar, pin, and Massie’s signature plate). He hot solders a piece of sterling silver, cut exactly to size, to the back of the buckle to add stability, and then reattaches everything the way it was. The end result is that the buckle looks exactly the same as it did, just a little heftier in weight.
Was there an additional charge for that?
Yes. The charge for restoring the buckle in this fashion was $200, instead of $85. The customer decided to have us restore his buckle, as he was looking forward to wearing it frequently.
Repaired buckle back
Repaired buckle front.
Old Town Trading Company has been in business in Scottsdale, AZ for 26 years and has 2 Native American artists who perform expert repairs and renovations to new and vintage pieces.