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Silver Navajo (?) money clip, American Indian

In Fine Jewelry > Native American Jewelry > Show & Tell and Fine Jewelry > Sterling Silver Jewelry > Show & Tell.
fleafinder's loves340 of 2476Vanity desk Old unopened Guinness Extra Stout Beer Bottle from late 1960's?
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (3 items)


    How is everyone's new year going? I hope well and wish you all the best.

    I have found this silver money clip with a turquoise inlay today. Once again I know next to nothing about it, other than that is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, in my opinion. Anyone with any interest or insight into this article is very welcome.

    I would also like to thank all the members on here that helped me out identifying the bolo tie I posted before ( my first post)

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.

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    1. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      This is an old piece it seems. Very nice. It's a traditional thunderbird and what seems to be an old design. maybe 30's or so??? We were recently talking about unsigned pieces and just so you know, the unsigned pieces are ones made by family members as gifts. When the receiver of these pieces many times needed money to survive on, they would pawn them and not be able to pay back the pawn shop, hence the true meaning of "old pawn".
    2. iiaannnnaaii iiaannnnaaii, 6 years ago
      Wow, thank you again for your keen insight. I had never heard that truth about the history of "old pawn". I really like this piece, it has a certain symmetry that speaks to my personal taste.

      I am also not a hoarder, having grown up the son of antique dealers, my thrill is more in the find than in the possession; do you think this would have any value if I were to list it, or is better to just keep around ( it's small enough to not take up too much space ????.
    3. CanyonRoad, 6 years ago
      Just to correct some misconceptions, the tourist market in the Southwest dates back to the late 1800s. Indian weavers and potters were some of the first to make items for sale. It was actually that important market that allowed many of the traditional crafts to continue. Commercial products had long replaced the need for those items to be made locally, but tourists and collectors kept the market alive.

      By 1900, silver workers were joining the weavers and potters, but virtually none of those items were signed. It wasn't until the 1960s/1970s that it became more common. Even today, though, not all craftspeople sign their work.

      This money clip looks older than it actually is. It was designed for the tourist trade, evident by the image of the thunderbird, which was not a Southwest traditional design, but one adopted because it sold well to tourists.

      It likely isn't signed because the clip itself wasn't made by the artist. They are sold as blanks through jewelry supply wholesalers, and the artist simply attaches the decorative element. They didn't start appearing on the market until the late 1980s.
    4. Efesgirl Efesgirl, 6 years ago
      Here is another one:
    5. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      CanyonRoad, thank you for that info. I found that very interesting and it makes so much sense to me as they are two pieces. I was certain that the thunderbird was a traditional piece and I agree that the design of it appears very old, I thought I mentioned that. Yes I also agree that a lot of pieces are not signed but what they do or are supposed to have is a stamp like 925 or sterling...the pieces made for family usually don't have that stamp. I believe I need to clarify that by wording my statements a little differently, but there is a difference between a piece being stamped and a piece being signed. Usually they are both made by a stamp, don't you agree?

    6. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      iiaannnnaaii, personally, I would keep this and use it too. It's a great piece!
    7. CanyonRoad, 6 years ago
      Native American jewelry is sometimes, but not always, stamped with a "sterling" stamp. Virtually no Native American jewelry makers use a "925" stamp, since that is associated with Mexican silver.

      In addition, some artists have their own hallmark stamps, or use stamps with their initials or names. And some engrave or etch their actual signatures in cursive.

      There is no standardized way to sign, or requirement to do so. Every artist comes up with their own way of signing, which may include any combination of the above, or they may not sign at all.

      The latter can be a personal choice, based on the traditional belief in some tribes that an individual should not take credit for what is recognized as an art or practice that belongs to the tribal culture itself, rather than to an individual member of the tribe. Or it could be because the artist feels that his or her work is distinctive enough that it will be recognized without a signature. Or they may feel signing is an indication of a big ego, which is not a desirable trait.

      So there can be many reasons why an item isn't signed, and may have nothing to do with when, or for whom, it was made. Sellers on the secondary market, though, often come up with some story that they think will improve the chances of a sale, and often the story isn't based on fact. As the story is passed on, and then shows up on line on numerous web sites, the chances of it being believed increase.
    8. iiaannnnaaii iiaannnnaaii, 6 years ago
      @canyonroad, thanks for the information, extremely helpful. Just to clarify, it is your opinion that this piece is actually from the 1980's, rather than being old due to the thunderbird ?
    9. CanyonRoad, 6 years ago
      Yes, it dates no earlier than the 1980s, since this style of clip that the thunderbird motif is on, was not made earlier.

      The clip itself is the key, since it is a mass-produced blank, purchased from a jewelry supply wholesaler. It would be similar to the hooks used in earrings, the clasps on necklaces, the backs of bolo ties, etc.

      That doesn't mean it is 1980s, it could be 2008. Just not earlier than late 20th century.

      The thunderbird motif was introduced in Southwest jewelry as part of the Fred Harvey tourist souvenir trade, through the stamps and dies used by jewelers and leather workers, and has been popular ever since. Although the thunderbird was a part of the cultural heritage of several Native American Indian tribes, especially in the Pacific Northwest, it wasn't traditionally found in the Southwest.
    10. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 6 years ago
      Good to see you back on the boards, CanyonRoad.
    11. Gillian, 6 years ago
      btw - CW doesn't offer appraisals.

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