Posted 6 years ago
I found this beautiful cuff bracelet last week at Kobey's swapmeet in San Diego, CA. It is slightly domed - 1/8" thick!, 1" wide with inlay turquoise and coral chips (not dyed macaroni) in the Zuni style. In fact it was marked Zuni on the price tag. Thanks Share for pointing me towards the famous Navajo Tommy Singer. I did some more research online and I think this is an "old pawn" item made of coin silver. It could be as old as the 1930's or as new as the 1970's and many pieces weren't signed. Old pawn style goes back as far as the late 1800's - but this piece doesn't resemble those styles I researched.
Navajo silversmiths put all or much of their wealth in the pieces they made. They wore them with pride for special occasions and left them with the pawn for safe keeping - and to borrow against, paid off and then returned again. Dead pawn refers to items that were never paid off by the owner.
Another interesting fact is that these "old pawn" items were not made for the tourist trade. The depression in 1930's slowed down the popularity for Native American jewelry (except of course we know that many collectors and silversmiths would still collect and create). In the 1970's an explosion of popularity brought the beautiful Native American styles back full force.
I am so happy to own this beauty!