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SANTA FE  NEW MEXICO

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A most unusual and interesting Fred Harvey-era Navajo or Pueblo silver and turquoise cuff bracelet, circa 1930’s-40’s



This is just a wild, weird and wonderful piece with a little bit of everything thrown in; old-style silverwork, lots of really nice turquoise stones, stampwork, repoussee and plenty of great visual “pizzazz”. It was clearly made by a talented and experienced Native American silversmith, Navajo or Pueblo, who was having a lot of fun that day and tossing in everything he could, including the kitchen sink.


The nine round turquoise stones in the bracelet, three large ones and six smaller ones, are all very nicely hand-carved of a beautiful, clear, sky-blue turquoise with medium-brown matrix which might quite possibly be from the famed Cerrillos turquoise mine just south of Santa Fe. The stones are set in intentionally rough-fashioned old-style silver “foldover” bezels. Interspersed between the stones in the bracelet’s center panel are six, very difficult to execute very small round repousseed bump-outs, somewhat of a technical tour de force.

The Santa Fe Railroad’s “Super Chief” refueling at the Albuquerque, New Mexico

depot in front of  The Fred Harvey Company’s Alvarado Hotel, circa 1940.


Photo copyright by and courtesy of The Library of Congress

The bracelet is further decorated with two large, stamped feathered arrow designs and an elaborate border of stamped crescent-shaped designs. At the terminals are two large and beautifully-repousseed round button-style bump-outs surrounded by stamp work and, if all that weren’t enough, the bracelet is finished with two very interesting and unexpectedly turned up at a 90-degree-angle terminal ends. The silver has the beautiful, bright “white” color we associate with coin silver and it appears to us that the bracelet was either made of ingot-silver cast from melted silver coins and hammered into shape or rolled and hammered coin silver, fashioned directly from the flattened silver coins themselves. Either way, it’s nice old style work!


The bracelet measures 1 3/8” in width at its widest center point and it tapers down to 11/16” in width at the terminal ends. The inner circumference end-to-end is 6”, the gap between the terminals is 1 1/4” for a total interior circumference of 7 1/4". The terminal ends extend upwards 1/4”. The bracelet weighs a nice, solid 69 grams or 2 3/8 ounces. The bracelet is unmarked for its maker and it is in generally excellent original condition. There are what appears to be a couple of unexplained tiny silver patches near the terminals that might possibly be repairs, but we are not certain of this.


This is early 20th Century Fred Harvey trading post style exuberance all the way; a beautifully campy, funky, yet at the same time, extremely well-crafted and very high-quality expression of Southwestern jewelry; something a discerning traveler on the Santa Fe Railroad would have been very proud to bring back home as a fine memento of an unforgettable Southwest adventure.



Price $1,150


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