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  • Esther Vanderwagon

    Evavderwagen2

    EVanderwagen1

    Intro
    New Mexico has a rich history associated with the Wild West, Santa Fe Trail, Billy the Kid, and Native Americans. The state has the misfortune of being the home of the Long Walk and the fortune of having the largest Native American population in the United States. Some families have very close ties with the history of these people and one of those families is the Vanderwagens.
    Perry Null Trading
    Lets first start with how Vanderwagen, NM got its name?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    In the early 1940s a family by the name Keeleys owned the White Water Trading Post and they wanted to create the town White Water. However, the name White Water already belonged to a town in southern New Mexico. The Keeley’s daughter was married to Richard Vanderwagen, and since the Vanderwagen was well known in the area they used his last name for the town (it serves as a Post Office where people in the area receive their mail).
    Perry Null Trading
    When did your family come to this area?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    My mother and father, Grace and Albert Garnaat, were missionaries for the Christian Reform Church and came to Orabi (Hopi Reservation) in 1941. Soon after they arrived in Arizona they went to do mission work closer to the Gallup area. When we came from Michigan I was in the fourth grade.
    Perry Null Trading
    Were their a lot of missionary families here?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    That is how my family came to know the Vanderwagen family. Effa and Andrew Vanderwagen were also from the Christian Reform Church and in 1896 went to Zuni, NM from Michigan to do missionary work. My family met them in 1943 when my parents moved to this area.
    Perry Null Trading
    The Vanderwagen family is known for being a Zuni Indian Trader family, how did they get involved in the trading business if they were missionaries?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    It didn’t take them long to figure out that they would not be able to survive on a missionary wage, so they opened a trading company in Zuni. In 1900 they opened Vanderwagen Trading in Zuni. At that time it served many purposes and they offered many dry goods and groceries.
    Perry Null Trading
    Your husband is one of their son’s, Ernie Vanderwagen, did you meet him in at the same time your family met the Vanderwagens?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    No, I did not meet him until 1947. He had served in World War II and his duty with the Navy kept him in service from 1942 until 1946. Ernie did his service in the Pacific. It was not until 1949 before we would get married.
    Perry Null Trading
    Was Ernie involved in the family business?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Ernie was around the family business from a very early age. He was fluent in the Zuni language which made it very easy for him to build relationships with the local Zuni craftsman. When he was twelve one clan proposed initiation into the clan which would allow him to dance in the ceremonies. However, his mother would not hear of such a thing.
    Perry Null Trading
    After you had married was the trading business going to be your new families trade?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    We had left the area briefly after we married, but came back in 1951 to run a trading post in Tse Bonta. After that we owned or were co-owners in several different shops. The Vanderwagen store (White Water Trading Post), a store in Zuni, and Gallup Pawn. We did a little pawn business and jewelry business, mostly wholesale.
    Perry Null Trading
    How involved were you in the stores?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    I was raising kids and had other responsibilities that kept me busy. When we were in Vanderwagen I was the Post Master, in Zuni I worked for the schools, so I was not around the trading post as much as I would of liked to have been.
    Perry Null Trading
    You mentioned that Ernie was proposed the offer to be initiated into a Zuni clan and spoke fluent Zuni, did this give you access to many Zuni crafts people?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Old man Leekya (Leekya Dyuse) was the Zuni who wanted Ernie to join the clan. So he had a good relationship with him. When we were down in Zuni, Ernie would go over to Leekya’s home and choose what fetishes he wanted. Leekya would set them aside and then when we got a collection we would string them ourselves.
    Perry Null Trading
    What other early Zuni artist did you trade with?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    Leekya’s daughter Elizabeth was married to Frank Vacit and they lived with him when they were first married. Leekya would carve these frogs that had a lip on them so they could be set in silver, after he was finished with them he would give them to Frank who had done the silver work to set them in the bracelet. These were some great pieces.
    Perry Null Trading
    It is different actually knowing the artist when you had grown up with them instead of being an outsider. How were the relationships different?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    When Ernie had enlisted to go to World War II, Zuni artist Dan Simplicio had enlisted at the same time. This was before he was the famous artist that he would eventually become. They had a very close relationship that was more than the usual trader/artist friendship. Many of Dan’s pieces prior to the War were done in traditional inlay style. It was not until after the war and he had the life changing experience associated with such an event that he began his style that was very different than what is associated with Zuni artist.
    Perry Null Trading
    So you and Ernie were considered part of an extended family in Zuni?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    We had many close relationships, today I still visit with Elizabeth on a regular basis. The Zuni Tribe wanted to make a Constitution, so they had all of these lawyers meeting with the Council. Many on the counsel didn’t speak english, and those that did have a general understanding didn’t understand lawyers terminology. So for one whole winter Ernie would go to these meetings to translate the lawyers terminology into the Zuni language and in a way it made sense.
    Perry Null Trading
    Looking back what are your thoughts?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    It is always easy to look back and see what you should have done that was different. I wish I had paid more attention to the culture and the different artist. Still we had a great time in the business and I would not trade it for another life.
    Perry Null Trading
    What are you doing today?
    Esther Vanderwagen
    I am still working and plan to work for a couple of more years. I have moved around a bit the last couple of years, a stop in Mesa Verde at a gallery. Now I am at Richardson’s in downtown Gallup, that allows me to see many of my friends and keeps me involved in the business, which I love.
  • Tobe Turpen Jr

    Introduction
    Perry Null purchased his Trading Post from Tobe Turpen Jr. It had been started on the north side of Gallup in the 1920s by his father Tobe Turpen Sr., a family with a rich history of trading, which makes for some great stories and a better understanding of how the business has evolved. Many Navajo and Zuni customers come into the store today and talk about how well they were treated by Tobe Jr., who is held in high regard by all who have met him
    Perry Null Trading:
    How did your father get involved in the Trading business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My Aunt was married to C.D. Richardson who brought my father to Winslow around 1918.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Which Trading Post did he work at?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He spent a short period of time at some Posts around Winslow, but most of his time was in Shonto. It took one week by wagon to get from Flagstaff to Shonto, when my father was dropped off he was told they would see him in a couple of weeks. He didn’t see anyone for another six months, except the customers at Shonto.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How long did he stay at Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He was there five to six years. It was hard life, we used kerosene lamps, carried our water, used a woodstove, nothing was easy. My mother who was from Oklahoma had a lonely life there.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you lived at Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Yes, I was born in 1923 and spent my first four years in Shonto.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What did your father do after Shonto?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    He moved around some spending time at other Posts, but settled in Gallup in the 1920s. He worked for a Trader by the name of McAdams on Gallup’s North side. A couple of years later he opened his own store down from McAdams.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you like the trading business at a young age?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    We lived right next door to the store, so I was there all the time. Every summer I had to work there and learned the business, but still was not very interested in it.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What changed, that made you become an Indian Trader?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I was in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 and was an airplane gunner for 1 1/2 years. During that time I was in the Battle of Philippine Sea. After I got out of the service I came back to Gallup and went to work for my father. In 1956 I bought him out, and in 1972 I moved the store to where Perry is now.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you came out of the service knowing you wanted to be in this business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    No, I didn’t have anything else going on and my father had to tend to some ranching business in Oklahoma. He told me to watch the store for 3 - 4 weeks so nothing would get stolen. After 6 months he finally returned and I had a crash course in the business during those six months that I enjoyedm, so I continued doing it.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Your father was involved in ranching, did you also continue to do this after he was gone?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I inherited 300 head of cattle from my father. I lost money on every head, and that was the end of my ranching career.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Was pawn an important part of the business then?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My father was taking a little pawn, and we thought that it would be a good part of the business. However, it was very difficult to get rid of the dead pawn. In those days you had to educate the tourist of what they were buying, they were leary of the merchandise. What the Navajo wore was different than what was made for the retail trade.
    Perry Null Trading:
    They made many western movies here in the 1940s and 1950s, did you sell much to the actors?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    My father would supply the livestock so he had made relationships with many of the actors and crew. We would stay open late, after they stopped filming, and show the merchandise then. It was very good for us, and I met Jimmy Stewart, Burt Lancaster, Ronald Regan, Marilyn Monroe, Randolph Scott, Tyrone Power, and Earl Flynn.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Any good stories about the movie stars?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Burt Lancaster came in one evening and wanted to buy rugs for friends and family. I started helping him and he had me make two piles. One pile he kept putting every good rug I had in, I kept thinking I was not going to have one good rug in the shop after he was done. He kept going and going, and it started to make me sick to think about all those good rugs leaving the store. When he finished he told me he would take that pile, and pointed to the one without the good weavings.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you do a big business in rugs?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Jewelry was always the best. However, we would buy all the rugs that came in the store. I thought that at one point that the we were not going to get anymore rugs. During this rug drought I would travel to the Post on the Reservations to buy rugs, it was the only place I could get them. I thought for sure that was the end of Navajo rug weaving, but the traders started paying more and it fixed itself.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you make most of your jewelry in house?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    Almost all of it, we would buy some from the Zuni artists. We purchased stones from the Nevada turquoise miners, and my father at one time even had a claim to a mine in Colorado.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What was your favorite stone?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    We always bought what was available, I liked Lone Mountain, Morenci, and Bisbee.
    Perry Null Trading:
    People always talk about the big boom of the 1970s. What was it like?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    You always hear that the Hollywood crowd was responsible. I think the Hippies had more to do with it. Turquoise became very popular and I would have 5 - 10 Volkswagen vans in my parking lot every morning. They would come in and get the jewelry, after that they hit the road and would be back in two weeks.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Do you miss the Trading business?
    Tobe Turpen Jr:
    I do, I stayed active in it until the mid 1990s.
  • Jimmy Turpen

    Jimmy Turpen Jimmy Turpen, managed Tobe Turpen Trading company until retirement in 1995
    Intro
    Many of us set out on our life’s journey trying to mold it. We want to end up where we think we should go, and do the things that we believe will get us there. Some of us however take a much different path, letting life happen. Jimmy Turpen let life happen and in return he has lived a full life. I could have spent hours listening to him give me his history, but I could tell his story could not be told in hours.
    Perry Null Trading
    Where should we begin?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It is your interview (laugh).
    Perry Null Trading
    The Turpen name is a well recognized Indian Trader name and has a long history associated with this area. How did your family come to this area?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1916 a relative died at the Shonto Trading Post (very remote part of the Navajo reservation, northeast of Tuba City) so my Aunt Trula Richardson got in contact with my father to come out here. Trula was responsible for bringing out many of the early traders in my family.
    Perry Null Trading
    What type of trading was the Shonto Trading Post actively involved in?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In those days they were taking a little pawn, the jewelry was pieces the Navajos had made for themselves. At this location and time no jewelry was being made by the traders for tourist trade. They dealt mostly with dry goods and groceries. The payment was made with anything of value, such as pinons, wool, and livestock.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did he stay at this location for a long time?
    Jimmy Turpen
    My father was sent to the different trading post owned by his family members, was sent to where the work was needed. At that time they had trading post at Cameron, Tuba City, Blue Canyon, Shonto, and some other remote places on the Reservation.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did he like the trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    He was a business man, always looking for opportunities. At one time he learned how do tailor work and opened a dry cleaning and tailor business in Winslow. Went to Gallup for a short period, than back to trading at the Grand Canyon.
    Perry Null Trading
    You were around for the Grand Canyon Trading Post. What do you remember?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I remember the first day we arrived, it was June 16th, 1936, and snow was on the ground and my mother cried all day. It was on private land and consisted of a curio shop, bar, and restaurant. It had a dance hall and a band played there every evening. You had lots of tourist traffic because it was on the road to the park.
    Perry Null Trading
    What was your dad doing at this time with regards to jewelry?
    Jimmy Turpen
    He had set up a shop behind the store where he would cut stones. My mom ran the store during the day and then my father would run the restaurant and bar at night. This would allow him time to cut stones in his shop during the day. Stones were a good revenue source so he was always in there cutting.
    Perry Null Trading
    How old were you when your family opened the store in the Grand Canyon?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I was six years old, and we stayed there until I was twelve. It was a great time and I have wonderful memories about the place. Still can smell the candy in the cases, and sneaking a few pieces. I had been around the Sunrise Springs Trading Post before we moved to the Grand Canyon, so was already familiar with this type of life style, always something going on and to do.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you help your dad with the stones?
    Jimmy Turpen
    Yes, my dad would let me sand and polish the stones. He had a silversmith family living there that would make the stones into jewelry, and then he would also take loose stones on the road to sell. We worked with a lot of Number 8, Blue Gem, Morenci, and Kingman turquoise.
    Perry Null Trading
    How were you able to get a store in the Grand Canyon?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It was on private land. Dan Hogan an Irishmen from New York had rights to the land before it became a National Park. He had served with the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War and had become friends with Teddy Roosevelt. When Teddy Roosevelt became President he was visiting the area and ran into Dan. Dan had been prospecting for ore at the time and the President asked if he could do anything for him. It just so happened that he could, Dan surveyed the land and asked for the rights to mine it. What he got was the right to own the land, granted by the President. Eventually the land was given back to the park under a deal that once the uranium had been mined it would be turned over. This was the land the store was on and today the Powell Memorial is there.
    Perry Null Trading
    Why did your family leave the Grand Canyon store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1942 the tourist stopped coming. World War II broke out and with it came rations on gasoline. So we moved to Tucson.
    Perry Null Trading
    What did your family do there?
    Jimmy Turpen
    They opened another curio shop. It didn’t take long for my dad to figure out he didn’t like waiting on customers, so he was back to cutting stones. He had two guys helping him (along with me) one Navajo named John Nelson who did silver work and John Garcia who helped with the stones. He started to make some really good jewelry.
    Perry Null Trading
    You finished high school in Tucson, then did you go to work for your father fulltime?
    Jimmy Turpen
    After high school I went to college at the University of Arizona. I started out studying to become a dentist, but changed it to Wildlife Management. This was a new program at the school and only six of us were in the first class.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you go to work in this field after graduation?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I had gotten married when I was in college and didn’t quite finish. I was in the ROTC and enlisted in the Army when I was a junior in college.
    Jimmy's wife, Robbie Wilson Turpen Jimmy's wife, Robbie Wilson Turpen
    Perry Null Trading
    What did you do in the Army?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I went to flight school and became a pilot. After flight school I was sent to Germany when we still occupied the country. We would take pictures from the air of the Russian Army advances in East Germany, after we developed the film we then flew it to our front lines to let them know about any movement of the enemy.
    Perry Null Trading
    How long were you in Germany?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We went, my wife and two children, in 1954 and came back home in 1957.
    Perry Null Trading
    Did you come back to Tucson?
    Jimmy Turpen
    Yes, I came back and finished my Wildlife Management program. By this time it was a popular field and the only job I could get was a study of the Razor Back in Tennessee. So I was on a job hunt immediately.
    Perry Null Trading
    What kind of work did you find?
    Jimmy Turpen
    My sister helped me get a job with Martin Marietta building the Titan Missile in Denver. So we moved there and began working, this was during the height of the Cold War. When we had finished building the missiles and the work slowed I got on with IBM in the same area of Colorado.
    Perry Null Trading
    How about the Indian Trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I had a good job and really liked working for IBM. Still had an interest in it, but was working to pay bills and raise a family. During this time in Colorado we had made a trip to Estes Park. A lady owned a shop there that sold Indian jewelry and we saw a belt that my father had made in her window. We had made an offer to buy the belt and the lady told us it would be $3500. At that time this was an expensive price, but we wanted to have it and agreed. After that she said the piece was not for sale.
    Perry Null Trading
    Sounds like good business practice?

    Turpen7

    Jimmy Turpen
    We introduced ourselves to her. She told me that she had a piece of my father’s work at her home and would mail it to me. When it arrived I had the option to buy it from her. The box didn’t arrive until six months later, and by then I had forgotten about it. The packaged contained a silver ware set that my father made during the 1940s. She said I could have it for the price she paid him, that was $500. So I sent her a check.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did you get back into the Indian Trading business?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1973 I received a call from Tobe Turpen asking to check out a retail location in Denver. They were thinking of opening a store here. The location was terrible and they never opened a store there. However, I was offered a job to be the general manager of the Tobe Turpen store in Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading
    Was it an easy decision to make?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I knew the business and I liked the business. I had a good job with IBM and my wife was able to be around our children in the Denver area. It was a much harder decision for her because she would be leaving her children and grand children.
    Perry Null Trading
    Well we know you decided to return to the business, was it an easy transition?
    Jimmy Turpen
    It was for me, I was right back into the swing of things. My wife cried for the first two years, until our daughter and her family moved to Gallup. At the time we moved to Gallup the American Indian Movement was very active. Right before we moved down with our belongings AIM had taken the Gallup Mayor hostage and one of the kidnappers was killed in the ordeal. My wife was asking me what kind of place we were moving to.
    Perry Null Trading
    You showed up right in time for the big 1970s market, was business booming?
    Jimmy Turpen
    The 1970s was a big boom market for Indian jewelry. All of the big movie stars were wearing turquoise and that made everybody want it. You had everybody selling jewelry, train operators would take it on the road with them and sell it, school teachers were selling it, everybody in the town was selling jewelry.
    Perry Null Trading
    How busy was the store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We were booming, at the time we had three locations. Most of our business was wholesale, it was not uncommon for us to sell 100 squash blossoms a day. We had 30 silversmiths working in the shop cranking out jewelry. It was a good time for the industry, but at the same time you had a lot of junk available because it was being made so fast and everybody was making it.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did it slow down?
    Jimmy Turpen
    The wholesale slowed down in the early 1980s, but at this time the pawn business was starting to grow really good. With the shortage of money from the slowdown in the market, people started to pawn for extra money. It was always busy at the store.

    Turpen1

    Perry Null Trading
    During the 1970s C.G. Wallace had his big auction in Phoenix, did you pay much attention to it?
    Jimmy Turpen
    We would use the auction to get an idea for what things were selling for. One day Tobe Turpen came to me with the C.G. Wallace catalog and asked me about a silverware set in it. It was like the one I had bought from the lady in Estes Park. My father had made two alike sets, I had the other one. The set at auction sold for $35,000.
    Perry Null Trading
    You are also an artist, how did you get involved with making bronze statues?
    Jimmy Turpen
    In 1969 we visited a gallery in Taos and looked at some pieces. I thought this looked easy and decided to make some pieces. It was not as easy as it looked but I had a new hobby?

    Perry Null Trading
    Your hobby worked out pretty good for you, I have seen some of your work. Did you sell your pieces?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I have had them in different galleries. My pieces are also displayed in a book put out by Bill Harmsen.
    Perry Null Trading
    When did you leave the Tobe Turpen store?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I retired in 1995. Tobe Turpen Jr. was grooming his son to run the business. Today I help out at Richardson’s Trading downtown at the beginning of each month. Bill Richardson is my cousin and I enjoy spending time down there. Get to see some of the people I dealt with at the Turpen store.
    Perry Null Trading
    What do you miss the most?
    Jimmy Turpen
    I miss the action and getting to see my old friends.
  • Roland Kamps

    Roland Kamps Roland Kamps
    Introduction
    Gallup has a fascinating history with the Navajo, Zuni, & Hopi peoples. It is a trading center for all three of these Native American Reservations. Many families were early settlers in this area and still here today. The Kamps family is one of these with a rich local history. This family has done mission work, healed the sick and delivered many new Gallupians, and taught generations of children. Roland Kamps was my teacher for 8th Grade History. He came into the Trading Post to show Perry some rugs his father had owned, and he wanted to sell.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What brought the Kamps family to Gallup?
    Roland Kamps:
    My father, Jacob R., came here in 1927. He was a Minister for the Christian Reform Church and they had a Mission at Rehoboth, right outside of Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your father want to come to this area?
    Roland Kamps:
    He came from a time when being a Minister of God was a very prestigious calling. He was one of those Godly men who teached God’s word and let that take him where he needed to be. (Laughs) I was conceived in China, born in Michigan, and raised in New Mexico. So you can see he was willing to go where needed.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your father have to learn to speak Navajo to do his Mission work?
    Roland Kamps:
    When he first arrived he took learning Navajo very seriously. He would become fluent in the Navajo language, but would never use it in a sermon. Before he learned he had a interpreter, Wallace Peshlakai, that would travel with him on the Navajo Reservation.

    Roland Kamps rug collection

    Roland Kamps rug collection

    Perry Null Trading:
    Did he teach you to speak Navajo, or did you learn another way to speak the language?
    Roland Kamps:
    Dad always wanted all of us kids to speak Navajo (laughs), but all I ever learned was the dirty words.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did your Father ever do any trading with the Navajo?
    Roland Kamps:
    No,but he would always come home with rugs, baskets, and pottery he purchased to help a family out. This would make my mom so made because she said she needed the money to feed us kids. After my parents passed away we went through their things and came across a big steamer truck. That truck was filled to the top with Navajo rugs, probably somewhere around 25 to 50.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many brothers and sisters do you have?
    Roland Kamps:
    All brothers, there are seven of us. I had my two youngest brothers in class at Rehoboth.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How long did you teach at Rehoboth?
    Roland Kamps:
    I started teaching at Rehoboth in 1949. You had to teach everything back then, so I remember having english, math, and history classes. Eventually, I became the Superintendent before leaving in 1966 for Zuni.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Do you remember any of the early Indian Traders?
    Roland Kamps:
    I had a men’s basketball team and played with Tobe Turpen Jr. and we would play against the Ortega Brothers. Also, Rico Menapace played on my team. He had the car dealership in town and that guy was what I think of as a Trader. He could speak Navajo fluently and would take whatever was offered for trade, sheep, cattle, rugs, anything of value. We called his truck the Navajo Cadillac because everyone on the Reservation was driving one.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So, I grew up familiar with the Kamps name, is their a younger generation still here in Gallup?
    Roland Kamps:
    Yes, Gallup will have Kamps people, hopefully forever.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So what do you think your Father paid for that large rug you brought in today?
    Roland Kamps:
    (Laughs) I know nothing close to the thousands it is worth today, maybe a couple of hundred at most.
  • Gallup: Pilot Gateways Magazine

    Pilot Getaways Cover, Nov - Dec 2010 Pilot Getaways Cover, Nov - Dec 2010

    Pilot Getaways magazine is for the aviator who is looking for adventure travel. This gorgeous publication does an excellent job of finding places of interest across the Country and promoting area attractions. Crista Worthy is the Technical Editor of the magazine and did a feature on Gallup, New Mexico. She is also a Native American art enthusiast and a big fan of the Four Corners area. We have put some of the images from the article and text for your enjoyment. If you are looking for a wonderful travel magazine that is full of pictures contact www.pilotgetaways.com for subscription information and to order the November/December 2010 publication for the complete Gallup article. It tells you where to stay, eat, and places to visit that include Perry Null Trading Company.

    From November/December 2010 Pilot Getaways magazine:

    Pilot Getaways Gallup ArticleThe early trading posts were founded as a way for the Indians to trade their wool, maize, and hand-woven blankets and rugs, for staples they were unable to obtain on the reservations, such as cloth, groceries, and hardware. Men like Hubbell learned the Navajo language and understood that in the matrilineal Native American cultures, sheep, saddles, and silver jewelry took the place of money, and were bartered instead of sold for cash. Trading posts became interfaces between Indian and Anglo societies. You can watch this interface today if you visit a Gallup trading post to shop for Native American art and jewelry—two of the best are Perry Null’s and Richardson’s. Perry Null is also a pilot and flies a turbocharged Cessna 210. Over the years he’s used it to visit his kids in college, for Colorado ski trips, Phoenix winter ball games, and Telluride’s July 4th celebration. He and his family often fly to Monument Valley or Sedona for breakfast or Winslow for lunch on Route 66.

    The Perry Null Trading Company has been doing business in Gallup since the 1930s, when it opened as Tobe Turpen’s Trading Post (don’t miss the mural outside). Step into Perry Null’s and be astounded at the quantity of turquoise—more than I thought existed in the whole world—with racks of necklaces made from beads, hand-drilled by Santo Domingo puebloans. The vast majority of “turquoise” sold in department stores or online is fake, but not here. The expert staff can usually tell you exactly which mine a particular stone came from.

    Perry started trading in the 1970s, developing personal relationships with most of the finest Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo artists. A superb Zuni inlayer like Harlan Coonsis will step in quietly, package under his arm. When Perry sees him across the room, his eyes light up and he beckons the artist over. The latest masterpieces are unveiled: a bighorn sheep bolo tie beautifully rendered from mother-of-pearl, and a dozen different colorful birds, each feather individually etched. Perry knows when a particular piece is a design the artist has never tried before, and he frequently gives unique stones to the best artists, commissioning them to create something special.

    Private plane flying over redrocks Private plane flying over redrocks

    If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, ask: you may have missed it, or perhaps they can have it made for you. You’ll also find stunning pottery and kachina dolls—check out Gene Autry’s priceless silver saddle! The “Rug Room” overflows with hundreds of the finest hand-woven rugs. Like jazz, this is all-original, American art, and its creation and sale brings dignity to its creators.

    In the last few decades, the quality and diversity of design of Indian jewelry has increased exponentially, with certain artist’s works becoming highly collectable. High-end Santa Fe galleries charge thousands of dollars for some pieces, but why shop there when you can buy from the trading post where the artists originally chose to bring their works? Gallup prices are more competitive, and you can often get the inside story behind the particular piece you hold in your hand. Ask—you’ll be amazed at the expertise of this staff.

    Aside from being the conduit where original art makes its way from the reservation to the world at large, authentic trading posts like Perry Null also serve as banks and giant vaults, safely storing ceremonial jewelry used only once a year, or rifles for hunting season; ask for a tour. Indian families often bring prized possessions like heirloom jewelry or saddles in when they need cash, returning a few months later to pick up their valuables. On the rare occasions when an item has not been claimed or paid for over a year, it becomes “dead pawn”. Once a month, Perry pulls dead pawn items and puts them out for sale, some with unique historical value.

  • Sally Noe

    Gallup historian, Sally Noe Gallup historian, Sally Noe
    Introduction
    The “Greatest Generation” got the name because of the hardships they lived through during the Great Depression and the service and community they demonstrated during World War II. Gallup resident Sally Noe is part of this generation and has shown those great attributes during her lifetime. She is known for giving Downtown Gallup walking tours and as the expert local historian. If you want to know something about Gallup, New Mexico she would be the one to ask.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Are you a lifetime resident of Gallup?
    Sally Noe:
    No, I missed it by one month. My father worked for JcPenny and they moved him from Kansas City, MO to Gallup, NM in 1926. My mother was pregnant with me, so after I was a month old we moved to Gallup, missed it by a month.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did they keep your father in Gallup?
    Sally Noe:
    It was the Great Depression and if you had a job you kept it. JCPenny moved him every two years, so we moved to Albuquerque and Bisbee, AZ. The Depression was ending and JCPenny wanted to move my father again. He was tired of moving around and accepted a position with Swinford Clothing Store in Gallup.
    Perry Null Trading:
    So you started school in Gallup and graduated from there?
    Sally Noe:
    Yes, I graduated from Gallup High School in 1942 at 16 years old.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you live close to downtown?
    Sally Noe:
    Everyone lived close to downtown. Gallup only had a population of around 2,000 people when I was growing up.
    Perry Null Trading:
    I always thought of it as a bigger community?
    Sally Noe:
    All around Gallup you had coal mines. At one time 27 producing coal mines and each one had its own little community of miners. So, it felt like more people in the area because of the coal, but Gallup only had around 2,000 people.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many stores did JCPenny have in New Mexico in the 1920s?
    Sally Noe:
    Gallup was the first community in New Mexico that had a JCPenny store. Because of all the mines and miners it was the best town to do business in New Mexico.
    Perry Null Trading:
    After graduation did you get married?
    Sally Noe:
    I was going with a boy that was from Gallup, Robert (Bob) Noe. He served for the Navy during World War II and I was very close to his family.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you marry before he went to war?
    Sally Noe:
    No, we married on August 14th, 1945. That was the day War World II ended. I always tell the story I went into the church when the war was still going and came out when it was over.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you plan that?
    Sally Noe:
    No, we married at a Methodist Church in Raliegh, NC where Bob was stationed. They required you what 3 days before you are allowed to get married, and it just happened the third day was the last day of World War II.
    Perry Null Trading:
    What did you do while the War was happening?
    Sally Noe:
    I would substitute teach at the mine camps around Gallup. Back then each mine camp had its own school. That meant lots of schools. I would also help Bob’s mother at C.G. Wallace’s store during the summer.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Did you enjoy working with your mother in law and arts?
    Sally Noe:
    My passion was teaching and I eventually completed my teaching degree in 1976. Kathy Noe was a good businesswoman and ran the shop very well. She would eventually open her own shop and be in competition with C.G. Wallace. At that time I can’t think of another woman trader.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How did you ever begin your Downtown Walking Tours?
    Sally Noe:
    When I worked in the C.G. Wallace store, tourists would come in and ask about the community. So I started walking them around town and showing them the old buildings and the history associated with them.
    Perry Null Trading:
    You have always been an advocate for Gallup, could you imagine not living here?
    Sally Noe:
    Bob and I lived in Morenci, AZ after the War. His father owned a commercial painting company and fell off a ladder. Bob decided to come back and run his business. He came home one night and told me he was going back to Gallup and asked if I was going to come with him.
    Perry Null Trading:
    How many children did you raise here?
    Sally Noe:
    Three, two of them still live here and the other in central New Mexico.
    Perry Null Trading:
    Thank you
  • Bus Tour Information

    Perry Null Trading Company, which was formerly the Tobe Turpen Trading Company, has been associated with Gallup, New Mexico since the 1930s. This would be the perfect stop for your Tour Group if visiting this scenic and historic area.

    Customers doing business at the pawn counter inside Perry Null Trading Company Customers doing business at the pawn counter inside Perry Null Trading Company

    Trading Posts have served the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi Reservations since the 1800s. At one time the Indian Trader was the only connection for the Navajo to the outside world. This dependency on one another carries over to today, and it appears that partnership will last into the future.

    Tour Bus friendly parking lot outside the Perry Null Trading Post Tour Bus friendly parking lot outside the Perry Null Trading Post

    Perry Null Trading Company is a full-service Trading Post that is two businesses in one. We have the pawn counter that functions as a bank and fills the Post with a live trading atmosphere. Also, you will find a large selection of new and old Native American handmade crafts for sale to the public.

    Perry Null Trading Company is filled with Native American treasures, and this is a look at the Trading Post's showroom. Perry Null Trading Company is filled with Native American treasures, and this is a look at the Trading Post's showroom

    We have a large parking lot, public restrooms, and a friendly staff to make your visit a pleasurable one. Plus, you will receive a tour through the Trading Post by Perry Null and get a first hand look of how we function, while Perry gives an oral history of Pawn and the Trading business.

    You know you are at the right place when you see the Perry Null Trading Post mural honoring this historic area and it's people You know you are at the right place when you see the Perry Null Trading Post mural honoring this historic area and it's people

    So, make sure you think of the Trading Post Tour at Perry Null Trading Company next time your group comes through Gallup, New Mexico. We offer a discount off of purchases and give each member of your group a Trader Token as a gift of appreciation. It will add at a unique touch to your tour and leave your customers satisfied and give them wonderful memories of this special Southwest area.

    Call (505) 863-5249 or email info@perrynulltrading.com to arrange a tour bus visit, we are excited to see you here.

  • Brief History of Tobe Turpen's Trading Post

    Old photo of Tobe Turpen's trading post Old photo of Tobe Turpen's trading post

    The photo displayed to the left was taken in 1900 at the original sight of Tobe Turpens Trading Post in Gallup and shows John Lorenzo Hubbell, the owner, pictured in the center wearing a dark suit and hat. The counter shown in this photo was moved to the current Tobe Turpen's Trading Post on Second Street in Gallup NM and can be seen there today.

    The Turpen family has been in the trading business for more than just 60 years. Tobe Turpen Sr. opened his Gallup trading post in 1939 in the building shown above that he purchased from J. L. Hubbell on North Third Street in Gallup NM. Tobe Turpen. Jr. is pictured to the right in the same store building with an employee and a Navajo medicine man (circa. 1947) In 1966, Tobe Jr. was forced to move from the building on North Third Street, when I-40 was constructed. He relocated the trading post to it's present location on South Second Street in Gallup.

    Tobe Turpen Jr and Medicine Man Tobe Turpen Jr and Medicine Man

    The history of the Turpen family in the trading business began in 1908 when, at the age of 11, Tobe Sr. came west from Texas to work in a trading post owned by his brother-in-law, C.D. Richardson. This was before the start of World War I and the Turpen family was having hard times at their home in Texas. Mrs. C.D. Richardson, formerly Trula Turpen (Tobe's sister), was trying to find work for her brothers at C.D.'s string of trading posts in Arizona.

    Tobe Turpen Senior and Navajo friends c1920 Tobe Turpen Senior and Navajo friends c1920

    The picture to the left was taken on the Navajo Reservation (circa 1920) when Tobe Sr. was in his early 20's. Tobe Sr. began working on the Navajo Reservation by hauling freight from Flagstaff, AZ to the trading post at Cameron, AZ. He also worked at the Blue Canyon Trading Post, where he learned to speak the Navajo language, and quickly gained a working knowledge of the trading business. This was the beginning of a long career as a Trader.

    Tobe Sr.'s work in the trading business was interrupted when he lied about his age so he could join the Navy and enter WWI. When he returned from the war, he worked at Richardson's trading posts at Blue Canyon and Red Lake. He then moved to Gallup and worked for the McAdam Post and then for Gross-Kelly. Tobe Sr. ran the curio department for Gross-Kelly, where they sold rugs, jewelry and pottery that the local reservation traders brought to town as payment for the goods they hauled back to the reservation.

    When Tobe Jr. returned from serving in the Navy in WWII, he joined his father in the trading business in 1946, and they worked together until 1954, when Tobe Jr. bought the business from his father. Tobe Sr. soon moved to Albuquerque where he opened a small Indian jewelry store and entered the cattle business. Tobe Jr. continued in the trading business and in 1973 his cousin, Jim Turpen, joined him. Jim Turpen became the General Manager and continued in that position until his retirement in 1994. Tobe Jr. eventually moved to Albuquerque and semi-retired from the trading business. Until he sold the store to Perry Null in 2002, he continued to travel to Gallup several times a month to oversee the trading post operations.

    During the 1960's "boom years" of the Indian jewelry business, Tobe Turpen's enjoyed the success of supplying jewelry to the hundreds of retailers that sprung up across the country. The "boom years" were followed by a market saturated with cheap work and spreading disillusionment that ended the fad in the late 1970's. Although many retailers went out of business after the "boom", Tobe Turpen's continues to supply Indian jewelry, rugs, kachinas, pottery, sandpaintings, beadwork and old pawn to retailers throughout the United States and Canada. With the popularity of Indian jewelry growing in other countries, Tobe Turpen's now supplies businesses in Japan, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and England.

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  • Southwest Pottery - a brief history and definitions

    CHILDREN OF THE EARTH

    It is unfortunate that the “New Agers” have pre-empted the phrase “Mother Earth” because Native Americans used it to explain to the outside world the relationship they felt toward the living soil that gave birth to virtually everything of value in their world.  No Indian enterprise is closer to the germinative spirit than the making of pottery, created from the earth itself.

    The art of pottery is very ancient in the history of mankind, but a rather late development in the technology of the Southwest.  Some date ceramics in the Four Corners to “year one”, but the general consensus dates pottery making to 500 or 600 of the current calendar.  It marks the dividing line between late Basketmaker and early Pueblo groups.

    From the beginning pottery had much more than utilitarian meaning for the Pueblo people.  Bowls, jugs and pots were so wonderful and life-changing that they immediately entered the worlds of religion, trade and status as well as art.  The complex technology itself became a commodity of some value as potters traded their secrets of success.  There are plenty of good descriptions of pottery making, but a brief outline will be helpful.

    The first requirement is an extremely fine-grained material containing high levels of silica and aluminum.  But clay alone tends to crack either in the drying process, or the firing.  A “temper” usually must be added to the mix.  Temper is a non-permeable element like sand, or crushed rock, or ground up pottery pieces.

    There are two techniques commonly used in the Southwest to build the piece into a suitable form.  The simplest method is to take a lump of wet clay, form it with the fingers into a small bowl or mug or roll it out like biscuit dough.  The main limitation of this “pinch” technique is size.  It is hard to make anything much larger than the human fist.

    The coil method has almost no limitation when controlled by a master potter.  There are Pueblo storage jars large enough to hide a good-sized child.   The maker rolls out a bottom piece a little larger than the container or “puki” it will be started in.  Puki is a Hopi word for a basket, bowl, or other rounded support used to build the pot.  The puki can be turned as the coils of clay are added.

    To create the coils a snake of clay is rolled out just the diameter of the bowl.   The rope of clay is overlapped on the previous layer, pinched to adhere, then smoothed inside and out with fingers, a wooden paddle, a rounded piece of gourd, or a piece of pottery.  The vessel can’t be built either too fast or too slow.  A large bowl of damp clay will simply collapse of its own weight.  If the rounds of clay are applied to an olla that is too dry, the new layer won’t stick.

    One important technical innovation was the discover of “slip”, a different color of clay, usually better quality than the body, applied in a thin layer over the piece.  When fired, the slip would come out a different color.  Paint, from minerals and native plants, was added with a traditional yucca leaf brush, still used by most potters today.

    Traditional firing was done outdoors when the wind wasn’t blowing.  Originally wood was used for fuel, after domestic animals were available, dried manure was found to create a high temperature fire.  Sheep waste, compacted and dried in a corral, is quite suitable.  Coal is found all over the southwest and the ancient Hopis, at least, used it for firing pottery.

    Broken pieces of old bowls were placed around the new pieces to protect them from ash and hot spots in the kiln.  For a reduction fire (almost no oxygen) more pottery sherds were used.  Some potters would cover the whole thing with a washtub or sheets of roofing tin.  Powdered manure, added toward the end of the process, would cause a “smudge” that turned the piece black, popular at Santa Clara and San Ildefonso.

    Very few pieces of pottery are still fired outdoors, but Indian pottery is still hand built and hand painted.

    There is a basic contradiction underlying any discussion of pottery design, prehistoric or modern.  On the one hand, Pueblo artists tend to be very conservative, and the group aesthetic will usually dominate any personal creative urges.  On the other hand, the history of ceramics in the Southwest is a stairway from one innovation to another.  Also, there are two major design elements in the world of ceramics—vessel shape and painted design.

    All during the classic Anasazi period, the basic design element was painted black on white.  It is amazing how many varieties such a simple formula will support.  The creative urge was a restless, living thing.  A cup was a better drinking form than a flat bowl, and a handle was a useful addition to the basic cup.  But at Mesa Verde, the creation of cups became a mind-boggling circus of innovation.

    The basic mug was deformed, with bulges at the bottom, stretched to the dimensions of a pitcher, and embellished with a variety of handles.  Painting became more and more elaborate, contradicting the simplicity of a monochromatic palette.  An artist can create a whole sunset with only black and white to work with.

    The basic olla (water jug) shape was also pushed to the limit.  Elongated necks, narrow mouths, flattened, widened bodies, multiple slips, dimples for lifting rather than attached handles that could break off.  Pots with lugs to fasten a leather or rope handle have been found.  Pots with multi-lobed bottoms and pitchers with double spouts occur.  Adding color was almost superfluous.

    Bertha Tom - Navajo Potter Bertha Tom - Navajo Potter

    The most amazing—and mysterious—development in prehistoric pottery was the wonderful, enigmatic painting found on Mimbres pottery from the area of southwestern New Mexico.  Perhaps a single genius was behind the whole movement, but we’ll never know that for sure.  The Mimbres potters suddenly started turning out painted bowls with figures and animals instead of geometrics.  These bowls are virtually a pictorial history of the culture.

    There are scene of religious observance, warfare, agriculture, domesticated turkeys, parrots from Mexico, childbirth and hundred of other subjects.  Beyond the scenes of domestic and religious life, there are animals, monsters, spirits, and scenes that are almost certainly illustrations of mythology and supernatural belief.  There are many examples of animals created by grafting parts of several creatures into a single fantasy.  Most of these bowls had small “kill holes” punched in the bottom, and were found in graves.

    Several writers, scholars and Native philosophers have been sure they had the key to these curious images.  Hopi artist Fred Kabotie devoted a great deal of study to Mimbres designs and came to the conclusion they had many counterparts in Hopi mythology and religion.  Mimbres sites were devastated by pot hunters early in the last century.

    Mimbres pottery may be the most mysterious and evocative, but many other culture groups turned out distinctive and staggeringly beautiful ceramic ware.  While effigy pots are more common among the Casa Grande ruins of Mexico and the Hohokam sites in southern Arizona, images of animals are most intriguing.  Pots in the shape of ducks, turtles and frogs are most common, perhaps because these animals are associated with water.

    The dictionary doesn’t make much distinction between the words effigy and figural, but in the pottery world effigy is most often applied to animals forms, figural to representations of human beings—both date back to the earliest days of fired clay objects.  These largely non-functional ceramics have been a mainstay of modern Pueblo pottery.

    After the Civil War various metal, glass and china containers were available and relatively cheap.  They were also much more durable than hand built bowls and jars.  Bronze pails were a staple of early trade, and even issued to Indians by the U S government along with hoes.  At that point the pottery tradition was doomed as a necessary and functional part of Native American life.  Except for the fact that pottery had always had religious functions.  No Zuni house is without its offering bowl, where cornmeal mixes with fragments of turquoise is kept for offering to the spirits and blessing the katsinas.

    Ernie Bulow

    Author - Ernie Bulow Author - Ernie Bulow
  • Faking the Art

    Its all a ReMix anyway, right?

    If you read your Navajo jewelry history you find out that the Navajo was taught how to make silver by Mexican silversmiths. This event takes place when New Mexico is a US territory, and only within a couple of years of being ceded by Mexico. Technically its not even possible to say the Navajo invented their own jewelry craft.

    Tonto Tonto

    To add insult to injury, Trader Lorenzo Hubbell purchased a stash of Persian Turquoise to give to Navajo silversmiths and it is believed that those are the first used pieces of turquoise in Navajo silver. Today it is non-Native turquoise dealers who bring the admired blue rock to Gallup. Don’t forget the silver, our supply houses eagerly await deliveries from silver producers from states like Maine each week. At the end of the day on might think a turquoise bracelet is just that, a turquoise bracelet.

    What is Native American Art?

    So why do companies like Perry Null Trading Company spend so much time marketing authentic Native American art. Is there such a thing?

    Of course there is. At its foundations, Native American art is the understanding and expression of Native peoples applied to common artistic media.

    If we are going to make a case for authenticity, lets go back to a time before the first Navajos learned how to decorate silver in the mid 1800s. Maybe we should start with Pueblo Bonito where turquoise was uncovered. That turquoise would be around 1000 years old and comes from an ancient civilization that thrived before anyone else started showing up in the area. Some of the earliest turquoise work was very intricate and would have been worn as jewelry. Historians tell us of great trade routes in the Southwest that the Native American peoples used.

    One of the most coveted stashes of American turquoise would be that from the Cerrillos mine in Northern New Mexico. Turquoise from this mine was finding its way into jewelry at the same time that Chaco Canyon was thriving. Turquoise was definitely part of that culture and due to the extensive trade routes it would surely have been introduced to the Pueblo Indians around the Gallup area.

    Moving forward in time, we have the Mexican silversmiths or blacksmiths passing on their understanding of metallurgy to the Navajo. Oddly enough, I do not believe I have ever seen a Mexican squash blossom necklace. Mexico produces turquoise, and these Mexican blue rocks come through town on a regular basis, however, a history of Mexican turquoise jewelry does not seem to exist. Evidently the Navajo took the newly acquired skill of silver-smithing, combined it with turquoise that had been in the area for over 1000 years, and used it to express ancient style and tradition.

    Turquoise and silver is Navajo culture. It is used to demonstrate standing within a community. Also, it is used as currency within our current trading system, just as it has been for the last 100 plus years.

    When a small Navajo child grows up on the Reservation he is surrounded by jewelry. He or she grows up learning how to determine which pieces of jewelry are the best, and which pieces are Navajo made. That part of culture might influence the child to follow in the footsteps of a family member who makes silver. In return his designs are going to be influenced by what he sees as his People’s art and spirituality. It is a cycle that has been played out since the first smiths started making turquoise and silver.

    What if its a Good Fake?

    Does it really matter if your turquoise and silver jewelry is authentic handmade Native American art? After all, isn’t a bracelet made with turquoise and silver by a non-Native American still a bracelet? Think about something other than jewelry, say something like one of my favorites, Mexican food.

     'Who is there?' 'Who is there?'

    Lets say I am vacationing and my travels take me to North Dakota. It has been two weeks since I have been home and I am really missing my Mexican food. I take a look in the local telephone book and find an ad for an authentic Mexican food restaurant. My day of touring has left me famished and I decide to order that “local favorite” stuffed sopapilla. To my surprise it is tasty and not much different than what I find back home. As I am paying my bill I happen to see into the kitchen and notice my fixings have been put together by a White cooks. Those cooks had been inspired by the genuine thing and have found the proper way to prepare the stuffed sopapilla.

    What about great artists that mimic Native American Art?

    How about those great silversmiths who many consider to make excellent pieces of silver and turquoise, who happen to be non-Native American? I have personally seen excellent pieces of jewelry from these non-Native smiths. Their workmanship would make it very difficult to determine whether their art was Native made. No one complains, however, as this is appreciation of an art form. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and these artists have no intention to take credit, only to mimic and give honor to Native American culture.

    Most of the individual non-Native jewelers make silver and turquoise Native American inspired art because they love it. There is something spiritual about creating works inspired by the culture and history of America’s first inhabitants.

    So what is fake art?

    Just like anything fake, it has three major commonalities: it is cheap, it is attributed wrongly, and it is parasitic to the real craft. Mass production of a design that is not copyrighted, but which nevertheless belongs to the spirit and tradition of a people is offensive. There are those that mass produce Native American style art in order to sell it at bottom dollar prices. No Native American ever comes in contact with this jewelry except maybe as the creator of the piece that was used for the production model. This is not art, it is machine tooling, and it is destructive to the actual art market.

    Authentic Handmade Authentic Handmade

    So, it does matter if Native American craft is authentic?

    The inspiration comes from somewhere! All of those items you see that resemble Native American art have been influenced by the genuine thing. This art is how the People express their culture to outsiders and share it with them. More importantly, this art is a way for many of them to make a living, and enjoy a fulfilling career.

    See my next post that talks about how to know that what you are buying is authentic, not to be imitated.

  • New Mexico Causing Self-Inflicting Wounds – What’s Next

    New Mexico is Native American

    Lets start with some facts. New Mexico is home to the 2nd largest American Indian population calculated as a percentage to the entire state’s population. Much of that population is the proud people of the Navajo Nation. Lets not forget that the majority of that reservation lies in Arizona, and so if you added that you would be looking at the largest American Indian population.
    The Navajo Nation observes daylight savings. It does this because New Mexico observes daylight savings, instead of following Arizona, which does not follow it. The reason is simple, it is because Gallup, New Mexico plays a vital role to the people living on the Reservation and is the main servicing town to the Navajo Nation.

    Fake VS Real Fake VS Real

    In 2011 New Mexico tourism generated $7.8 Billion in economic impact to the state. This is not coming from business travelers, but those coming for leisure. The number of people taking in the sites and culture of the Land of Enchantment for pleasure accounted for 84% of those dollars. That means over 25 million people probably where introduced to our vibrant American Indian Tribes.

    One of the most popular New Mexico cities and maybe the BIGGEST tourism dollar generator is Santa Fe. Just recently the City Different was ranked by Conde Naste Traveler as the 2nd most desired city to visit in the United States. On their website it talks about taking “a whole day to explore the galleries.” Many of those galleries proudly display the arts and crafts of our Indigenous peoples.

    Glad you don’t get our Local News

    It is against the law to misrepresent American Indian arts and crafts. Many people take the fight against imposters very seriously. I have personally been to more than one Chamber of Commerce meeting that focuses on this problem.

    KRQE channel 13 News thought they would take on the fight with their investigative reporter Larry Barker. He immediately took his investigation to Santa Fe. The report went something like this. The first place he visited had misrepresented art, and the same for the second establishment, and you guessed it the third was equally guilty. Then to top it all off he went shopping on the website of the National Museum of the American Indian. You guessed it, he found fakes there too.

    Jewelry Manufacturing Jewelry Manufacturing

    This report was broadcast in November. Lucky for us that November is not our biggest tourism month so only a handful of tourists maybe saw the spot. I just hope that the New Mexico Tourism & Travel website doesn’t promote the news feed on it’s New Mexico True site.

    What makes a Good Reporter

    I am thinking about one of the most famous movie quotes of all time, “I want the truth.” Just this time I think we can all handle the truth. Larry Barker should have taken his report to tell that whole truth. The other side of the story is that the majority of the shops that sell Native American arts and crafts sell the real thing. A good reporter, especially one that benefits from tourism dollars, would have turned it into a positive New Mexico Story.

    Not only did he tear down our state’s jewel. That jewel being our handmade authentic Native American art and Santa Fe. Gallup, New Mexico gets a handful of tourist every year. However, being the “Indian Capital of the World” where the art is our industry the report really hurts us. Many galleries from Santa Fe come to our small city to purchase the art that they take home to sell daily.

    New Mexico is a GREAT Tourist Destination

    Remember, counterfeit is a problem everywhere around the world. Think of those vacations where streets are lined with shops that sell popular purse rip offs, luggage, and clothing. The reality TV Series Amish Mafia reveals it is even a problem in Pennsylvania where English sell woodwork as Amish made even when it isn’t.

    Navajo Silversmith Navajo Silversmith

    So, when you come to visit us here in New Mexico do your homework. You are definitely going to want to find where the best New Mexican cuisine is served, local gems, and those businesses that hold true to the 2nd largest Native American population. That is why you can always count on Perry Null Trading to have the real stuff because we buy directly from the Native American artists.

  • Is the Price too HIGH?

    Gallup, New Mexico has two types of Wholesale Businesses

    If you are driving across the country and find yourself in the middle of nowhere with an almost empty tank of gas and you come across a service station (the only station for hundred of miles) you pay their price. Their price per gallon could be significantly higher than you just paid 300 miles ago, but you are happy to have the service and fuel. Now, we know that you would never pay that price if you had another lower cost choice. However, this gas station has the luxury of exclusivity. When it comes to Native American art in Gallup, New Mexico business is fierce and prices are driven down by competition.

    wholesale-products-revolution-300x300

    Box stores compete on prices and their business models depend on beating the competitions price. We have all heard the marketing phrase, “everyday low prices”, and the mega stores deliver. It is what has taken the once common corner market out of business. Plus, it has also taken good paying blue-collar jobs out of the country and overseas to developing countries that promise much lower labor costs. Yes, these blockbuster shopping empires provide huge employment, but at what costs?

    Native American art runs on a different model, but the consumer is always looking for the best bang for the buck. Gallup is the source for authentic Indian jewelry and serves as the wholesaler in this industry to the rest of the world. Popular tourists destinations take the turquoise and silver bought here and share it with those who are drawn to uniqueness of this historic First American art. This wholesale market creates two types of wholesale businesses in Gallup.

    Businesses that offer something a little Different can have HUGE Paybacks

    The first type of business is one that creates a catalog style of jewelry. Whether they have craftsman that work in a shop like setting, or commission work that the artist takes home the style of work is repetitive. This wholesale business makes a product that has been proven to sell and the style of the piece is the same over and over. Much of the inlay work you find through out the Four Corners is an example of this type of business. Customers are drawn to these businesses because they have sold the work in the past and can expect similar sells in the future, and the prices stay within an expected range.

    automotive-production-line-1

    Perry Null Trading is the second type of wholesale business that sells original pieces of art. Both businesses are selling authentic handmade crafts, but a certain unknown comes with this style of wholesale. First, our prices can be very different from piece to piece. This results from an artist making something that just has something special about it, whether it be the uniqueness it captures or the materials used. Understanding these differences from piece to piece comes from being educated, and the type of wholesalers that shop at businesses like Perry Null Trading are looking for original works of art. They are engaged in the trends and artists in this industry.

    Another thing to consider when buying from this second type of business is to understand no mass production is taking place. Silversmiths don’t have the luxury of getting big discounts for buying in bulk. Most of these artists are one man or woman operations where the piece is made by hand from start to finish. Like all businesses the craftsman has to offer their work at a price the store can turn around and sell at a markup the customer finds agreeable. It is a balancing act that is required to keep silversmiths making art and business afloat to keep selling to the market.

    The Land of the Navajo, Zuni & Hopi artists is an inspiring one. You will find many silversmiths who live in the traditional ways of their ancestors. Being removed from the hustle and bustle of the city many artists are inspired by their natural surroundings. Many times you will find the shapes and colors of the Four Corners in our local art. Imagine the workshop where a silversmith sets at a bench, handmade tools surrounding them, a dirt floor and the heat of the fire to shape the silver. This is the art you will find at Perry Null Trading Company.

    Perry Null Trading sells Native American art at the RIGHT Price

    hjbelt

    Like all businesses that are actively engaged in their product we understand what we do. Every year we have customers return to fill their showcases with the one-of-a-kind pieces we sell. Our continued desire to offer a variety of today’s top artists and desired materials gives a wide variety of Native American art. If you are a Native American art gallery and haven’t shopped with us it is time to join our satisfied list of wholesale customers. It is a very easy process and we will fill your showcases with original works of art.

  • Battling the Imposters

    imposter2-sheep

    BE CAREFUL! People Sell Fake Art

    Navajo silversmiths don’t own the rights to turquoise and silver jewelry. Just like the Amish don’t own the rights to wooden furniture. However, what they do own the rights to is calling their work authentic Indian Handmade, and that is where the injustices are made by con artist jewelry businesses who represent their merchandise as Indian Handmade when it comes from a factory overseas.

    I am a fan of reality (made to believe reality) television and have watched episodes of Amish Mafia. On one episode the Mafia had to deal with a scrupulous dealer who sold merchandise as Amish made, when in fact it was imported goods. It makes sense that the fake merchandise is sold in Amish country where you would naturally find authentic Amish handmade crafts. The same is true for Gallup, New Mexico the “Indian Capital of the World” where the market for imitations is ripe.

    Gallup, New Mexico is Authentic Indian Art

    Individual collectors and dealers from around the world come to Gallup to find their authentic Indian made arts. Advocates for Native American artists suggest a visit to the Chamber of Commerce to learn who the reputable dealers are. This is an excellent approach for your buying experience, but not every one makes that important Chamber visit. Gallup is filled with Indian themed jewelry stores and it can be overwhelming for the first time visitor as well as very exciting.

    Some of the stories I have heard from dealers and collectors are horrifying because many of us in the industry work very hard to promote authentic Native American made art. I had an artist who told me that he visited a shop that had a number of his one-of-a-kind pieces for sale, and the only problem with that was he didn’t make one of them. On another occasion I had a wholesale customer who was shown a box full of the style of jewelry he was interested in buying, and the only problem with that was the jewelry had a little sticker with “Made in China” on it. The stores fix for that problem was that you could just take the sticker off and sell it as authentic, “no one will know”.

    It is true that the fakes can look just like the genuine thing. Today is all about technology and that does not exclude jewelry making where machines can reproduce excellent replicas. In this town you can even art shop while you are eating at one of our great New Mexico cuisine restaurants and be bombarded with the fake merchandise by numerous solicitors.

    We WORK hard to Sell the REAL Thing

    The problem isn’t always about money where fakes can be had for a little less than the real things. I believe the problem lies in the competition of the business. We spend an enormous amount of time gaining the trust of artists and finding a price that keeps them bringing their art back and able to put a competitive price on the merchandise. Plus, they know we are going to represent their art and them honestly. Imposters don’t take the time to build a business relationship with the artists and in return cheat the system to compete.

    sdbelt
    See more great photos in our photostream »

    Remember when you decide it is time to add to your collection of authentic art or fill your showcases with the “real” thing find the businesses that promote the art truthfully. We buy our art directly from the artists and if we don’t have what you are looking for or want more choices we will point you in the right direction.

    Take some time to read this forum article that will help you on your way to owning Native American originals, http://forum.perrynulltrading.com/discussion/16/the-difference-between-handmade-manufactured#Item_2

  • Squash Blossom Necklace

    The squash blossom necklace is maybe the most recognizable Native American piece of

    Squash

    wearable art. You will find the necklace surrounded by debate. It is speculated that the blossom comes from the pomegranate, but other theories exist. The same is true about the naja. Historians will take you back to the Roman Empire for the inspiration behind the design, while others tell of a Navajo origin. No matter where the designs of the squash blossom came from they are now thought of as Native American. Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi artists have all made these spectacular pieces, of course following the influences of their People's preferred style. We have an assortment of these necklaces on our online Trading Post, so make sure you check them out, http://www.perrynulltrading.com/catalogsearch/result/index/?cat=9&q=squash+blossom.

    Navajo Sandcast Naja

     

  • Hammered Coin Silver - Vernon Tracy

    Navajo silversmith Vernon Tracy shares with us some of the steps it takes to turn coin silver into a piece of wearable art. It all starts with 12 half-dollars. Vernon melts the coins into liquid and then pours them into ingots. Then he hammers them into the desired thickness, by heating and hitting, not using a roller. After he turns his silver into the shape and thickness he desires he cuts the pieces into a perfect shape and begins to decorate it with handmade stamps. This cuff is finished with a piece of legendary Number Eight Turquoise, check out his videos to see more of his work http://www.youtube.com/user/jasonatperrynulltrad?ob=0&feature=results_main.

    Vernon

  • “Dead Pawn” – How it Works

    In Gallup, New Mexico things are done a little differently than, well say Las Vegas where “Pawn Stars” is filmed. When our customers come into the shop it is never a question of, “what would you like to do, pawn it or sell it”. Here we are always pawning and keeping many very valuable pieces of Native American art secure in our oversized “safety deposit boxes”. Over 90% of our customers return for their pawn items.

    Pawn

    Many places will hold pawn items for the minimum amount of time required by the State of New Mexico. However, we hold items for over a year, and many times much longer than that. Perry Null Trading Company is in the “pawn” business, not the “selling” business. That loyalty keeps our customers returning and recommending us to their circle of family and friends.

    Perry

    Eventually, if the pawn item has not been paid for we put the item out for sale, as “dead” pawn. Often it is dead pawn jewelry that attracts many of the buying customers to our Trading Post. These are the items that the locals here in the Gallup, New Mexico area wear. The pictures show the dead pawn pricing process.

    Dead

  • Saddles Galore!

     

    Navajo artists like Thomas Curtis Sr., Leonard Nez, Wayne Franklin, & Oscar Alexius have something else in common, the Rodeo. All of them have competed and won big events in the All-Indian Professional Cowboys Association. Big Buckles and Trophy Saddles are as common around here as the pick-up truck. Gallup, New Mexico would be considered a rodeo town and we are proud of it.

     

    Gallup, New Mexico is also home to quite a few “safety box” businesses called Pawn Shops. Rodeo stars, ranchers, along with the casual horse rider always are looking for a safe place to keep their valuable saddles. It seems like saddles outnumber horses in this area 100 to 1. When we have tour groups in the Trading Post the visitors are always amazed by the number of saddles in storage.

    If you are a saddle person you will enjoy making a trip to Gallup. We have had some great handmade saddles  by local artists, “world champion’ rodeo saddles, custom made saddles, and some very unique special saddles. Plus, if you need a saddle this is the place to find one, from home decorations, bronc saddle, barrel racing, or just your roping saddle we have them all.

  • Costs of Native American Art

    Tobe Turpen Jr. changed the style of his trading business that his father started in the early 1900s. Instead of providing dry goods and being involved with the wool trade, Tobe decided to go a different direction. He wanted his trading company to promote the beautiful crafts being made by the surrounding Gallup area artists.

    Gallup, New Mexico is perfectly located for tourist trade. Especially before the four lane freeways took everyone around town. Route 66 and the train brought many people through this town, the Indian Capital of the World, and many of them shopped for a handmade piece of art to take back to California or the East.

    In the early days of Native American handmade art the dealer spent lots of time educating the public about this style of art. Tobe talks about how earlier buyers didn’t put a big value on the art. Much of his time was talking about the quality of turquoise, how the piece was made, and the amount of time it took to make these unique and special pieces. Today that has all changed. Artists like Raymond Yazzie charge tens of thousands of dollars for bracelets.

    However, once again it seems like we are doing lots of price justification in the Trading Post. One of the reasons that Native American made pieces of jewelry has a value is because of the materials. The majority of the pieces are made using sterling silver and some type of a stone. Plus, what we all like to be paid for, labor.

    Tobe made a business of handmade art selling at a time when material costs were relatively low. We have all seen a pre-1965 dollar US coin, about 1 troy ounce, those were made with 90% silver and cost the Government less than one dollar to make. Tobe also dealt in a time when you saw excellent American turquoise for pennies a carat. Those days are over and it isn’t just because of inflation.

    Things have changed radically in the last decade. During this time we have seen silver go from a little more than $4 dollars a troy ounce to a skyrocketing $48. It is important to remember that when you buy sterling silver that has been turned into sheet, wires, or the many other types silversmiths work with they pay an additional cost. Some types of wire can run as much as $40 dollars over the market price. Also, the days of good inexpensive turquoise don’t exist either. It wasn’t that long ago (same last decade) you could walk into a supply house here in Gallup and buy a nice turquoise cab for around 25 cents a carat. Anything over 50 cents and you were really starting to buy something rare and collectible. Now it seems like everything is at least a dollar and if you want a nice piece of Arizona Kingman get ready to spend around $5 a carat.

    A tighter materials market reduces the number of craftsmen in the trade, increases the base price of jewelry and typically demands a more savvy buyer. Unfortunately, the dramatic change in materials cost has in some cases tripled the prices of your favorite artists from merely a year ago. Look over our inventory, shop around, and know that Perry Null / Tobe Turpen Trading always creates from the finest materials, buys from the best names in the craft, and delivers a quality heirloom piece every time you shop.

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    Sterling silver sheet, sterling silver strips to build the channels, and rough turquoise used for the inlay.

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    Finished silver work before the inlay and buffing. This bracelet before stones already weighs over 4 ounces.

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    What it looks like once 140 pieces of turquoise have been inlaid and the silver has been shined.

    image
    All three of these pieces are handmade using fabricated sterling silver, this is not cast work. A bracelet like this takes time to make, something that you are not going to make in a day.

    We have had this style of bracelet made over and over. Ten years ago we would have sold this bracelet for around $280, today this bracelet is $600. The things that have changed are material cost and labor cost. Many of our artists live a distance from town and are hit very hard with costs such as gas. Remember that this is a piece of handmade art, no shortcuts and no skimping on materials.

  • Indian Friendship Project

    (Japanese businessman Atsushi Kaneda has been selling Native American art for over twenty years. Over that time he has made some very close relationships with people from the Gallup, New Mexico area. He comes so often that he even has a house in this community. When the devastating Tsunami hit Japan last year, many people in this area felt a closeness to the Japanese people that we wouldn’t of known, if it hadn’t been for our friends, like Atsushi, who makes the trip to Gallup for Native American art. That is why the Indian Friendship Project made so much sense for Atsushi. )

    Japan

    Japan National News (Click to Watch News Video)
    Perry Null Trading -
    What is the “Indian Friendship Project”?
    Atsushi-
    The Tsunami caused so much devastation to my Country. Some people are all alone because they lost their whole family and feel like they don’t have the energy to keep living. I wanted to let them know that they are not alone, that people in the Southwest are thinking about them.
      
    Perry Null Trading-
    Is this your project alone, or do you have a partner(s)?
    Atsushi-
    I do the “Indian Friendship Project” along with Isao Nijiima who has a Native American art business in Japan called Little Cloud.
    Perry Null Trading-
    Was your business close to the destruction?
    Atsushi-
    Both my house and business. My business suffered lots of damage. I had to replace showcases and repair my roof. We are about 60 miles from the coast.
    Perry Null Trading-
    Did you have to shut down your business for an extended amount of time?
    Atsushi-
    The Tsunami happened on 3-11-2011 and I was not able to reopen until the end of April. I made my first buying trip back to the States in May and that is when I knew I wanted to do something to bring awareness to the Tsunami.
    Perry Null Trading-
    What were some of the original ideas for “Indian Friendship Project”?
    Atsushi-
    When I got back here I saw what Raymond Yazzie, Lyndon Tsosie, and Darryl Dean Begay had done with the auctions to raise money. I wanted to do something different so I put together some artists that I knew and made a t-shirt that had their name and hallmark.
    Perry Null Trading-
    What artists did you get?
    Atsushi-
    Chester Benally, Steve Yellowhorse, Stewart Yellowhorse, Harry Spencer, Gary Reeves, Bruce Morgan, Lyndon Tsosie, Darryl Dean Begay, Timothy Lee, Alex Sanchez, Darrel Yonnie, and Ernest Benally.
    Perry Null Trading-
    What do you do with the money that you make from the t-shirts?
    Atsushi-
    We have raised $13,000 from selling the t-shirts. One part of the project is to give money to have cherry trees planted where the Tsunami ended, and we have also given money to another Native American art business in Sendai to help him reopen his store, Rio Grande.
    Perry Null Trading-
    Who has helped you promote the “Indian Friendship Project”?
    Atsushi-
    In Gallup we have been a part of the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial and the Pow-Wow that happens at the same time. Plus we have been covered by the Japanese National News and have had two documentary production companies follow us in the States.
    Perry Null Trading-
    Thank you for sharing, and we would love to have some t-shirts to sell for you if anyone is interested.
    Atsushi-
    Thank you.

    Want

     

  • Our new Affiliate Program

    We know that lots of you love Perry Null Trading Company, and that you tell your friends about the amazing pieces that come through our store... now, you can make a percentage off every sale that you generate!

    How does it work?

    When you sign up for our affiliate program, you gain access to a set of links which you can copy / paste into a blog post, an email or forum signature line, or place on your website as a sidebar ad. Just tell your friends (through twitter, facebook, etc) about your posts, and anyone that clicks the banner ads will be tracked back to your affiliate account. If they make a purchase, you will earn 20% for the referral.

    How to sign up as an affiliate:

    If you are not already signed up with a PNTC web store account click here: Affiliate Signup and fill out the information. If you already have a web store account, just sign in here Affiliate Signin and then click the Signup link on the left. We only pay affiliates through PayPal, so the signup process basically just links your paypal email address to an affiliate code. Once you have logged in and signed up for an affiliate account, you should see the following links in the left column:

    Clicking on Banners & Links will take you to the page that contains all our pre-created banners which you can copy / paste into your blog posts, etc.

    How do I use it?

    Blog

    The best way to post affiliate links is right in the content of the blog post itself. Research indicates that embedded ads / sponsor links get clicked over twice as many times as links and banners on the side or below your blog post.

    Regardless of what you write about, placing the banners in the blog post and using a caption of "Visit our Sponsor" or something similar is a good way to generate traffic to your affiliate account on perrynulltrading.com. Once you have written the blog post, make sure the generate traffic to the post itself by tweeting it, posting it on your facebook wall, etc. If the post is about a Native American topic, feel free to post about it on our facebook wall.

    Email

    Many people have a signature line in the bottom of their emails. Regardless of which email provider you use, there is a way to create such a "sig line." It is easy to include a text link in your sig line, and many people can even use image links. We have created two banners and two text links specifically for "low profile" situations like email sig lines.

    If you are not familiar with using a signature line, Smashing Magazine did a great article on them a while back: Art and Science of the Email Signature.

    Forum

    Many people are involved in forums about their favorite topic. Most forums allow you to create a sig lines just like you might see in an email. Use the same low profile banners to make an attractive but subtle addition to your forum posts. Creating a forum sig line is very similar in all respects to creating an email sig.

    Website

    Weather you have a blog or a small family news site or a small business, you can also run our affiliate banners to generate a little extra income off the existing traffic. It might not be reasonable to place the ads directly in the content, but side bars and footers are great places to position a banner for curious visitors.

    How do I know if it's working?

    When you log into the Affiliate system, one of the links on the left (see image above) is, "Referrers." When you click this, you see which ads brought traffic to the Perry Null Trading site, and you see where they were clicked from (email, web, etc). Not all traffic generates sales, but our affiliate commissions are higher than average to make every sale count. In some cases it is appropriate to remind your reader to "click the banner on your page" whenever the reader wishes to buy through Perry Null Trading. This may increase conversion rates for your ads.

    Good Luck!

    Best of luck with your affiliate marketing, and if you have any questions, please post them here or in the forum... or email us directly.

  • Identifying Your Navajo, Hopi, & Zuni Jewelry, Plus Maker

    Who made my jewelry? This might be a question we hear a dozen times a day, and the person who asks expects us to know. Sometimes we just don’t know and that is when the fun begins. It seems like the number of artists in this area is endless, so many talented people make gorgeous pieces of jewelry here. Gallup mainly sells Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi jewelry and that is what we sell here at the Trading Post.

    So we just don’t know – Step One

    Turn the piece of jewelry over and look for a hallmark or other markings. Many times we will recognize the hallmark, and if we don’t we have resources in the store that we refer to frequently.
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    Excellent for Hopi Hallmarks

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    Great overall source for Hallmarks, has some mistakes but definitely a must have

    image

    Really works well if you have the artist name and want to see images of style of work

    image

    The internet, of course make sure the source makes sense, but where else
    can you find so much information

    Step Two

    General class the style. Big silver and large stones, good chance it is Navajo. Small stones, cluster, or inlay and you have a reason to believe the work is Zuni. The piece is all silver, overlay, and the bottom oxidized part has a very fine texture and you just might have a piece of Hopi work. Of course, you have Navajo, Zuni, & Hopi artists that don’t make the traditional style of pieces their Tribe is known for, but the number is definitely a minority.
    image

    Navajo artists make inlay jewelry, too. However, it usually looks a little different, like on heavier silver or a rough cobble stone style of inlay. The center piece is Zuni, the other two are Navajo made.

    image

    Zuni & Navajo cluster work. The heavier silver is a sign that it is Navajo made. However the two cluster pieces on the left represent a Navajo & Zuni artist.

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    Navajo on the left, Zuni on the right. A very subtle clue is the stone work, notice the Zuni work matches color and size a little better. Also, the Navajo artist just can't help but add more silver to the work, heavy around the stones.

    image

    Notice the big difference in silver, a Navajo piece will almost always be heavier silver construction.

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    Hopi and Navajo all silver pieces. The buckle is Navajo made, notice the design, the End of the Trail, just don't see that often if ever depicted in Hopi silver. Plus, notice the shine, the Navajo piece has a satin finish, the two Hopi an nice high shine.

    image

    Another Navajo made or not Hopi made clue, the etched oxidized background is just not as fine as you find on Hopi work. Plus, the End of the Trail is not Hopi.

    image

    Zuni and Navajo turquoise cluster pins. Very similar, but do show slight differences. The Zuni pride themselves on stone work and they do not like to show lots of matrix, the Navajo piece shows lots of matrix. Also, remember the silver, the Zuni piece (on the left) has that nice open design, the Navajo piece has the heavier silver look.

    image

    Zuni left, Navajo right. The far right pendant is a dead giveaway Navajo made piece, big and chunky.

    image

    Cluster rings can be very difficult, because you just can't get a bunch of stones or silver into the piece. The two on the left are Zuni, the stones show a little less matrix. The middle right ring is the easiest to identify because the stones are just a style you find in Navajo, usually purchased already cabbed where the other pieces have been shaped by the artist.

    image

    The free form shaped stone on the left is usually a Navajo made giveaway. Plus, coral and turquoise is found made by both Navajo & Zuni artists, but definitely favored to the Navajo.

    image

    Zuni left, Navajo right. The Navajo piece is easy to identify, big, heavy, and a nice free form shaped stone.

    image

    The Zuni piece has a cast shank with a silver leaf design on the sides, plus the stone is cut by the artist, not something you find in local supply stores, but still difficult to determine, luckily this one is hallmarked by Robert & Bernice Leekya. Typical Navajo style split ring shank.

    Step Three

    Hallmarks, just like the style of jewelry the markings on the backside can help to identify. Generally, Zuni & Navajo artists will use initials for their artist mark, exp. Roger Skeets will use an R and S stamp on the back of his work. Hopi artists will usually use a symbol, something like a snowflake or sun for example.

    image

    Hopi hallmark, a symbol

    image

    Navajo & Zuni hallmarks, initials

    Step Four

    Get some help. That is exactly why we started the forum, join today.

    image

  • Top Ten Collectible Rocks

    Pilot Mountain Turquoise

    If your idea of “top” means the most expensive the list would read something like this:

     

    1. Lander Blue ($200 - $250 a carat)
    2. Number Eight ($100+)
    3. Bisbee ($100+)
    4. Lone Mountain ($50 - $100)
    5. Indian Mountain ($50)
    6. Red Mountain ($50)
    7. Candelaria ($50)
    8. Carico Lake ($35)
    9. Here you start getting lots of mines with similar per carat cost

    Lone Mountain Turquoise

    The list above would represent carat prices from the best of that mine. You can find very reasonably priced rocks from the mines above, they just are not the “top” of that mine.

     

    “Is this a good stone” is a frequent question here at the Trading Post. If you like the stone and the color fascinates you, who cares if it is a .25 cents per carat stone or $100 a carat rock. I have seen many well-known artists put not so appealing turquoise in there high dollar art, and at the same time I have seen many artists who demand the high dollar because of the high grade material they use in their creations.

    Lander Blue Turquoise

    Stone dealers always talk about legendary Hopi artist Charles Loloma accumulating certain turquoise mines to use in his work. Trends like this, especially by popular artists can create cost drivers for certain materials. Also, in the last 10 years you have seen an increase in Japanese collectors who have a very refined taste for American Turquoise, and this has resulted in costs for certain turquoises to increase dramatically. Plus, add the cost of gold into the picture and you have corporations buying up traditional turquoise areas of Nevada and completely destroying any hopes of blue vein recoveries.

     

    If I had two pieces of jewelry in front of me, one with a Lander Blue Turquoise stone and the other a really good piece of something blue, and both are made by the same artist in a similar style I would try to afford the Lander Blue. However, if I didn’t have enough for that Lander Blue piece it would never stop me from getting a great piece of handmade art by a First American artists that had something with a really pretty blue stone.

    Lone Mountain Turquoise

  • Hallmarks – Artist Identifier

    What are hallmarks

    Hallmarks are used to identify the maker of a piece of art. Usually they are stamped or etched into the silver. Barton Wright’s book “Hallmarks of the Southwest” is often used as a reference, but will not have newer artists because the publication was last updated over 11 years ago. Also, “Hopi Silver” does a nice job of identifying hallmarks specific to Hopi artists. Both of these books are great tools to help you, but you are going to come across hallmarks that are not identified in these publications. Next, you can turn to the internet to help, however that can become difficult because you don’t have a name to start the search with. Sometimes it can become very annoying because you just want to identify the art.

    If there is no Hallmark, is it Authentic?

    If you have an old piece of Native American jewelry, pre-1960s, there is a real good chance that your piece is not hallmarked. Silversmiths were encouraged to get a hallmark during the boom of the 1970s to identify authentic handmade work. Before this time period most dealers were trying to educate potential buyers of Native American silver of the value, and were not so concerned with the maker’s mark because except for a few artists most were relatively unknown. Things have changed dramatically and today you are rarely come across a piece that has not been hallmarked.

    Artists usually order their hallmark stamp and stamps eventually become unusable, and a handful of other reasons a piece of art might not have a hallmark. There are times when you come across a piece of newer art that does not have a hallmark, don’t panic. Remember, if it is an authentic piece of handmade art it didn’t roll of the manufacturing floor after being assembled by robots, artists are human and can forget to stamp their work. What you want to do is to identify the piece has authentic Native American handmade and then worry about the no hallmark. Use places like this forum to help get an answer.

  • American vs. Chinese Turquoise

    The winner? ...which ever color you like the best. We often hear customers tell us they want American turquoise, no Chinese. Since the days Chinese turquoise entered the American market, over 30 years ago, we have seen these stones go through a cycle. At first traders couldn’t believe the quality and color of these foreign rocks, rivaling some of our finest stones. Then Chinese turquoise flooded the market and it seemed that was all that was being sold and the quality was becoming poorer and poorer. Today, you don’t see much Chinese turquoise, and the stones you do find are from an old source, not new. No matter how you feel about it, just like American rocks, you have some not so great and great Chinese turquoise.

    Stones from every corner of the globe

    When you enter a Native American arts gallery that is filled with jewelry you will immediately notice that the showcases are full of colors. You will find lots of pieces made with coral from the Mediterranean Sea, purple sugilite from Africa, stunning blue lapis from Afghanistan, and many other amazing colors from mines all over the world. I have never heard someone ask for only American sugilite, so it is always interesting to find such a loyalty to American turquoise. That could change as we see more copper and gold companies take over traditional turquoise operations, and the fact that American turquoise keeps going up in cost, which is making Chinese (if you can find it) more affordable.

    Artist and Collector preference

    Artists are usually passionate about their art. Of course you have those that want only the best materials in their work: the best is usually defined by cost, and collectible American turquoise costs significantly more than Chinese. On the other hand, many silversmiths will go to the supply house and purchase sterling silver that comes from mines all over the world before being manufactured into sheets, and buy a stone that catches their eye, whether it is a piece of coral from the Mediterranean Sea or possibly a blue piece of turquoise from China. What we care about here is that the piece of jewelry was made by the hands of a Native American who is carrying on a tradition that goes back over 150 years. Remember, if you like it and you will wear it, that is all that matters.

  • At least we still have Gallup, NM

    Things change, it is the age of the big box store and chain restaurants. Gallup has to have one of the busiest Wal-Marts in the world. This beast sells and sells and sells and sells and sells, never seeming to slow. If you are traveling through town on I-40 and get hungry don’t worry because we have Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, and the other same eats you find across the country. What can you say, part-time minimum wage jobs and consuming things made overseas seems to be our country’s economic recovery model.

    Navajo Artist

    You don’t have to shop at the Big Box

    At least we still have places like Gallup, NM. Even though Gallup has those identical stores your town has, we also have something a little different. Gallup is home to a thriving cottage industry that has a large percentage of the area’s population involved, authentic Native American arts. The surrounding communities on the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni Reservations are filled with artists, and Gallup serves as the place to sell your art and the purchase of supplies for these artists. This unique industry brings people from all over the world to Gallup.

    Navajo Artist

    Handmade in America

    The best thing about authentic Native American art is that it makes the economy work. Some of the best employers in town are involved in the arts and pay significantly more than the known name boxes. Plus, it offers some of our local stores the chance to expand to different markets. You will find supply houses in Albuquerque that originated in Gallup, and several galleries in Santa Fe, Scottsdale, and other Native American tourist destinations have roots that began in Gallup. Also, lets not forget about the craftsman. Many artists make a very good living and are allowed the freedom to work as much or as little as they please. How about the unknown artists? The industry provides enough opportunities for those wanting to make part-time cash. It is the First American way.

    Navajo Silversmith

  • Building a Valuable Collection of Native Art

    When I was a kid growing up I collected baseball cards. I paid for those cards with money I made delivering the Albuquerque Journal every morning in my neighborhood. The cards represented the current players in Major League Baseball, and of course I had my favorites like Wade Boggs. Also, I had some fortunate friends growing up who’s parents spoiled them with things like Mickey Mantle rookie cards. Today my collection has some cards worth money, especially when you compare it to the original .25 cent purchase price. My lucky friend, his card came with instant value and has appreciated over the years. When it comes to collecting Native American art both of these approaches can be used and equally rewarding.

    To make your collection valuable, look for pieces you like

    Your collection should be distinctly "you." It might seem odd, but, typically it is great collections that make great artists. Make yourself familiar with names and styles, and definitely concentrate on things you like, no sense of building a collection you are not going to enjoy. Once you have an idea of what it is you want, begin to recognize and appreciate artists and materials.

    Look for great artist names

    Calvin Martinez Jewelry

    Calvin

    It is always a good idea to start with artistic work that is known to be good, an artist like Calvin Martinez will always be a good choice. Everything he makes is distinct enough to be recognizable as "his" by a knowledgeable expert, he is consistent, talented, and--at least for now--affordable.

    Look for collectible materials

    Lander Blue

    Exceptionaly

    When it comes to materials, if you’re wanting something with stones pick something with a classic like Number Eight Turquoise because it will always be more collectible over the years. Remember the baseball cards, all baseball fans know Wade Boggs, not many if any remember Ken Smith the 3rd overall pick of the 1976 draft. Its the same with stones and materials. Art made with respected and well known source materials will typically maintain better value.

    Look in the right places

    Whether this is spending hours visiting different galleries and trading posts, or browsing through the many different websites catering to Native art. Remember, Gallup, New Mexico is where you go to find great First American silver and stone, it just originates here. There are other places to peruse and acquire great Native Art, but the quality and quantity available here, in Gallup, is second to none. If you are looking to build a collection of current working artists do a little research before you make your journey to this Native American art Mecca, but if at all possible, do come!

    About collecting the "greats"

    Olla Maiden Inlay Pendant by GB

    Olla

    If you are looking for the Mickey Mantle equivalent, say a piece of Kenneth Begay, the game becomes different. These historical pieces are spread across the country, lots of enthusiast collect and resell these important pieces. Take the same approach as the current artists collecting and find a style and artist(s) that you really enjoy the work, remember these are things you are going to be wearing. Do your research and get to know the artist and work, because it is possible that the older work you are collecting will not have an artist hallmark to identify it. You might have a harder time finding prices, but if you do the groundwork you will eventually get a feel for a cost range that makes sense. Having a piece of art that is a one-of-a-kind and admired by a community of enthusiasts is very rewarding.

    Remember, use resources like this (Native Art Collector) that can help you find experts and those wanting to sell art. Anyone is able to comment or post topics on the forum, this will eventually lead to accurate information from a wide variety of perspectives.

  • Artist Direct Sales

    Many reasons come to mind when buyers want to forgo the middleman and deal directly with the artist. First, it is natural to want to hear directly from the artist his inspiration for the piece and the meaning of the work. Second, we are all communicative creatures and naturally like to add names to our list of friends, especially those that we find creative and interesting. Third, many times it is about the wallet, thinking that you have to be able to get it at a better price directly from the artist than through a store. Last, you just might want something custom made that is not available anywhere. These are all the reasons for going to craft shows and markets. Buyers pay a premium in travel and time hunting while the craftsman receives a higher price for the art. However, it is my opinion that many artists just don’t want to deal directly for almost as many reasons.

    Its a lot easier to sell to a gallery

     

    Wide sellection of styles and sizes of rings by Calvin Martinez

    Wide

    The biggest reason is one of practicality: the Navajo & Zuni Reservations surround this arts town. Thus, Gallup, New Mexico is the mecca for Navajo & Zuni art. It is home to many supply houses that provide for and support the creation of handmade art specifically because this is where they can sell the most supply. Turquoise dealers make this town their definite stop if they want to move any quantity of stones. Dealers in town are always buying and artists whose time is focused on creating art are just not very interested in driving the several hundred mile round trips to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Sedona, Durango, or Scottsdale. The galleries that make a living selling Native American art in those tourists’ destinations usually make frequent buying trips to Gallup. Its easy for an artist to sell his craft in Gallup, because more businesses than you can count cater to the Navajo & Zuni arts trade.

    Most craftsmen have no desire to be in retail

    Wide sellection of styles and sizes of pendants by Calvin Martinez

    ...pendants...

    Then there is the nature of the artists life. Many buyers just don’t understand the way it works. When they meet up with an artist they want to see a variety of pieces for sale. Usually, unless it is a very simple mass produced piece, an artist is only going to have a few pieces to sell if you're lucky enough to catch them when they have just finished making some pieces. Materials are expensive and once something is made the idea is to sell it and start the next piece. Most of us can’t go weeks without paychecks while performing our jobs, and that is very true for the Navajo and Zuni artists who have monetary needs we all have. Also, many buyers think dealers beat down artists for cheap prices and take that approach when buying directly. Artists and experienced dealers know the cost of materials, the time required to make a piece, they have an understanding of the complexity of work, and reach prices that make sense for both parties. Of course each wants a negotiation in their favor, but the prices are not random, and the relationship an artist develops with a trader will often last a lifetime. To the artist this is typically more simpler than opening a retail presence on top of creating the art. Take a moment and read this forum post if interested in educating yourself on how to value Native American art, Techniques to self-determine value of your art

    You know you love the wide selection

    Wide sellection of styles and sizes of bracelets by Calvin Martinez

    ...and

    You visit one of the many Trading Posts or galleries in Gallup, New Mexico because of expertise and assortment. Plus, when you take the time to research the reputable dealers, ask the Gallup Chamber of Commerce, you can count on seeing fantastic, authentic handmade (not the imported fakes) art at very reasonable prices.

    Depending on the day, you might even be able to stand at the counter with the artist to discuss his or her work.

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