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A rare, early Navajo sterling silver “Ranger”-style belt buckle set

by Sam Roanhorse for the White Hogan Shop, Arizona, 1948

Sam Roanhorse (1916-1988) was one of the 20th Century’s finest Navajo silversmiths, although his fame has often been eclipsed by the towering reputation of his older brother, Ambrose, who as co-founder of the Navajo Guild, consultant to The Indian Arts and Crafts Board and instructor at the Fort Wingate and Santa Fe Indian Schools was a living inspiration for generations of young native silversmiths. Sam Roanhorse began his career at the Fort Wingate school learning from Ambrose and moved on to become a silversmithing instructor at the Santa Fe Indian School. He then continued on to a succession of silversmithing jobs, including a five-or-six year period from the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s  when he worked at the famous White Hogan shops in Flagstaff and later, in Scottsdale, Arizona, under the the leadership of the brilliant Kenneth Begay and alongside Begay’s talented cousins, George, Allan and Ivan Kee.

This fine three-piece silver ranger-style buckle set is from this early White Hogan period and it dates to 1948. It is gorgeously crafted using completely traditional methods, yet the sleekly modernist style being invented by White Hogan at this time is beginning to be evident in this design. The buckle measures 1 7/8” in width and 1 5/8” in height, the keeper is 7/16” by 13/16” and the tip is 1 1/8” by 3/4”. It will accommodate a belt of up to 3/4” in width.

The matched set is in excellent original condition and is properly and elaborately signed and dated with Sam Roanhorse’s capital letter  initials “SR” and the White Hogan shop’s hogan insignia on the back of the tip. It is also inscribed “Handmade Original Design, 1948” and “Sterling” in cursive on the back of the tip and “Handmade Sterling” in cursive on the back of the keeper. All Sam Roanhorse silver jewelry is rare and difficult to come by. This early ranger set is not only a beautiful piece of jewelry, it’s a unique and significant slice of history by an extremely important Southwest Native artist. Moreover, it’s an easy-to-wear and very versatile piece which would look great on a man and particularly elegant on a woman.

Price $875

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