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A rare and historic “UITA 24” Navajo tufa-cast

silver cuff bracelet, circa 1930’s-1940’s

This striking and unusual piece was made in the 1930’s-1940’s under the auspices of the United Indian Trader’s Association, or UITA, an organization begun in 1931 by a group of influential Indian Traders with the specific purpose of upholding and guaranteeing the highest possible standards of quality, traditional craftsmanship and authenticity in Native American arts and crafts. Individual UITA-member trading posts were assigned specific numeric codes and jewelry and other native crafts made there were inspected and only those which met the association’s rigid guidelines could be marked with the organization’s coveted stamp and could then be sold at a premium.

This wonderful bracelet is marked “UITA24”. There were only 40 UITA numeric designations originally assigned to various traders and of these 40, the identities of only 17 are known today due to the fact that the UITA offices in Gallup, New Mexico where the organization’s records were stored were destroyed in a fire. UITA24 is not one of the 17 known designations so the UITA member trader who was assigned this particular numeric code will more than likely remain unknown for the foreseeable future.

The UITA organization lasted only a relatively short time and that, combined with its extremely strict standards and correspondingly low output, means that UITA pieces are not easy to come by today and the best of them, such as this bracelet, are highly collectible and command a premium.

This bracelet is most beautifully made in the painstaking traditional style of Navajo tufa-casting where American or Mexican silver coins were melted down and cast while molten into a hand-carved tufa-mold after which, in the case of this bracelet, it was beautifully hand-chiseled and filed into its final form.

The bracelet measures 3/4” in continuous width all the way around the shank. The bracelet’s inner circumference end-to-end is 5 1/2" and the gap between the terminals is 1” for a total interior circumference of 6 1/2". The bracelet weighs a substantial, yet comfortable  49 grams or 1 3/4 ounces. It is in excellent vintage condition with minor age-appropriate wear and it is properly marked “UITA24” and “Sterling” on the interior. This is a wonderful quality, extremely historic piece with a classic and elegant feel which can be worn anywhere, anytime.

Price $975

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