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TOPIC: Bracelet

Bracelet 1 year 2 months ago #94659

  • twiasp
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Hello all, hoping somebody knows something about this bracelet i found at a garage sale. It looks old/antique, it is marked "Sterling" on the back, and also marked "FRANCES" I am thinking this maybe possible Zuni or Navajo style but this is where i was hoping some of you maybe into things such as this also or know the areas well enough to lend some insight. The stones in it look to be turquoise, coral, and either jet or onyx. Again thanks if you can help me solve the mystery of what area this item is from and a possible maker of the item.



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Bracelet 1 year 2 months ago #94668

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It does indeed look like vintage-modern Navajo work and there may well have been a maker or trader called “Frances”. But I suspect that the stamp is an attempt to pass it off as a piece from the famous “Fort Defiance Trading Post” collection originating from Francis Griswold - one of the most famous Indian traders of the Southwest.

Francis owned several Trading Posts during the 1900’s, including Wide Ruins, Toawac and Fort Defiance. He bought items from the local Navajo and his trading posts also operated as pawn shops, accumulating a large quantity of Native silverwork pieces dating between the 1920’s and 1950’s which were stamped in block capital letters with the words “Francis” and “Sterling” before reselling, although I don’t think he actually made any of the items himself. The story goes that he shot and killed his wife for cheating on him sometime around 1958 and was in prison until 1982 when he was released at the age of about 90 for health reasons. He then needed to raise some cash and touted the silver items which had been in a vault at Fort Defiance, Arizona, plus a large stash of Navajo blankets and other items which had been in storage at Gallup, New Mexico. He ultimately ended up striking a deal at the Canyon Collectors trading post in Durango, Colorado, run by John Hartman. Hartman bought the vast majority of the silver items (including over 1,500 bracelets) and still sells them today with certification of authenticity via the Durango Silver Company.

The genuine examples are very collectible items.
Roger (redcoat typology dunce)
Last Edit: 1 year 2 months ago by painshill.
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Bracelet 1 year 2 months ago #94693

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Very nice info Painshill. I have emailed Erick Begay, his mother was Frances Begay and he said it is not his families mark but "it appears to be a very nice piece of silver and appears handmade." Any tips or ideas on how to possible find the maker? Or maybe how to get in touch with this John Hartman since i'm sure he is a wealth of knowledge on all the marks.
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Bracelet 1 year 2 months ago #94694

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Yes, it’s not Frances Begay’s mark, which looks like this (and her son uses the same mark):

frances-begay.jpg


You can contact John Hartman via the Durango Silver Company website but he runs a business and he’s gonna want up to $70 (starting price $36) to appraise an item:

www.durangosilver.com/jewelry_appraisal_2474_prd1.htm

There’s a list of Native American hallmarks here, but yours is not among them:

www.art-amerindien.com/signature_bijoux_amerindiens.htm

There’s a similar mark to yours for Francis Melvin, but again it’s “Francis” not “Frances”. There are a few reported instances where there are spelling variations on the same name so I suppose that’s still a possibility.

I think your best bet would be to contact the authors of that site (Jac & Alain) who, rather curiously, are in France:

Roger (redcoat typology dunce)
Last Edit: 1 year 2 months ago by painshill.
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