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Collecting Art

  • Native American Hallmarks

    Native American Hallmarks Native American Hallmarks

    Part 1

    What is a Hallmark?

    Hallmarks identify the jewelry maker. Many times they are just simple letter stamps. They are not something new, but can be traced back to the 4th Century. Famous American metal smiths used them before we became a country. Paul Revere who warned the Colonial militia “the British are coming” during the American Revolution used a hallmark on his handmade silver pieces in the 1700s.

    Paul Revere Hallmark Paul Revere Hallmark

    The Navajo wouldn’t learn to make silver jewelry for another century after Paul Revere warned of the British invasion. It would be another 100 years after that before it was common for Navajo silversmiths to use a hallmark. Of course there are some exceptions, and some artists adopted the use of a hallmark in the early 20th century. However, those instances are very rare and we do not see a surge in Native American hallmarks until the 1970s and beyond.

    Fred Peshlakai Hallmark, ca. 1948 Fred Peshlakai Hallmark, ca. 1948

    Today a hallmark is seen as a badge of honor, and in fact it is exactly what collectors hunt for in our cases. You see buyers turn over certain pieces in our vintage cases looking for hard to find Kenneth Begay, Fred Peshlakai, Gibson Nez and other legendary artists works’. All of today’s well-known artists use a hallmark to identify their work. However, in the early days of hallmarks it was more about being Indian Handmade or the shop the work came out of, not the individual artist.

    United Indian Traders Association Hallmark United Indian Traders Association Hallmark

    Mass producers like Fred Harvey and Maurice Maisel incorporated hallmarks identifying their brand early on. The problem was a lot of the time they would not be using Native American artists to make their Indian-style jewelry. That would lead to an effort to end non-Indian made Indian style jewelry. You would start to see US-Navajo stamps in the 1930s, and these would later be followed by IHM (Indian Handmade), IHMSS (Indian Handmade Sterling Silver) marks. Things would start to change as quality was encouraged, and Native American artists developed their own style and collectors would become more educated in relation to Indian handmade art.

     

    We explore more hallmarks and their usage in Part II.

    Native American Hallmarks Part II Native American Hallmarks Part II

    Part II

    Who made my bracelet?

    In an interview with Navajo artist Chester Kahn he suggests that it was unlikely you could afford to work as a silversmith fulltime when he first started making jewelry in the 1960s. When John Adair interviewed Tom Burnside in the 1940s for his book Navajo & Pueblo Silversmiths, Mr. Burnside makes the same suggestion. Even today it would be uncommon to see a fulltime silversmith not supplement his income with some other type of work. Well-known and award-winning Zuni artist Edith Tsabetsaye raises cattle that she sells at auction.

    Zuni artist Edith Tsabetsaye Zuni artist Edith Tsabetsaye

    It doesn’t have to be a full-time artist that works part-time at something else. In fact, most of the time it is someone who works fulltime at something besides jewelry making that supplements his or her income with silversmithing. Many part-time silversmiths will use letter stamps for their hallmark, which can make it very difficult to identify the artist.

    Freddie Maloney (FM) makes jewelry part-time Freddie Maloney (FM) makes jewelry part-time

    Artists like Orville Tsinnie make jewelry full-time, and Orville has created a very detailed hallmark to stamp his work with. His hallmark includes his full name along with the famous shape of Shiprock with the wording New Mexico. It is a complicated hallmark that is probably ordered from a supply house like Thunderbird or Indian Jewelry Supply. When a hallmark stamp is ordered it can take over a month to get and they are not cheap. Some artists will make their own hallmark stamp, and eventually the hallmark stamp will break or fade out. That means an artist might have several hallmarks over a course of his/her career.

    Orville Tsinnie's detailed hallmark Orville Tsinnie's detailed hallmark

    Many part-time silversmiths do not want to invest the money or time to acquire a unique hallmark. Of course dealers want to buy pieces of jewelry that have a hallmark on them, and that is because buyers want a hallmark to authentic Native American jewelry they have purchased. An easy fix is a letter stamp that can be easily purchased for under $10. One letter stamp for your first name and another for your last name and that is all you need to create your not so unique hallmark.

    What artist made this piece? What artist made this piece?

    Now, consider the style of Navajo jewelry. Many of the pieces have very similar looks and have been made by a number of different silversmiths. Also, consider the 1970s and 1980s when Navajo jewelry was in high demand. This was a time period when literally everyone in the family was making jewelry, and a lot of those silversmiths used initials for their hallmark. Many buyers do not realize how many Navajo silversmiths there are, and that alone makes identification very difficult if the work does not have a recognized hallmark.

     

     

    In Part III we learn how to be a hallmark detective, it will be fun.

    Native American Hallmarks Part III Native American Hallmarks Part III

    Part III

    Resources to help you identify hallmarks

    The question everyone wants to know is “who made my piece of jewelry”? We get asked this question frequently, and always approach it the same if we don’t know the answer.

    We use a series of books:

    Hallmarks of the Southwest Hallmarks of the Southwest

    I find this hallmark book the easiest to use. In the back of the book the hallmarks are listed alphabetically, which really makes life easy. It also has a useful list of shop marks, which is surprisingly helpful. The downfall is the 2nd Revision of this book was done in 2000 and that means a lot of new artists are not going to be in this publication.

    American Indian Jewelry American Indian Jewelry

    This series of books (three volumes) can be really useful. First, Schaff includes lots of pictures so you are able to compare styles of art. Second, these publications are full artists given you many chances to find the correct hallmark and artist. Last, he provides a detailed description of each hallmark the artist has used over their career.

    Native American & Southwestern Silver Hallmarks Native American & Southwestern Silver Hallmarks

    This book is filled with images of hallmarks, and that is very useful. What makes this a difficult book to use is you really need to know the name of the artist to make this book work efficiently.

    Hopi Silver Hopi Silver

    If we believe the piece we are identifying is Hopi made we will use this book first. It is easy to use and has an extensive list of Hopi artists. Like the “Hallmarks of the Southwest” this book will not have the newer artists. The last time this book was updated was 1989.

    We use the internet:

    These two choices are quick if you have internet access. Like the books the internet doesn’t always get it right. It is in your best interest to use a combination of sources to make sure you have the right name associated with the hallmark you are researching.

    www.turquoisepeople.com www.turquoisepeople.com

    I previously mentioned to you how many Navajo, Zuni & Hopi people are involved in jewelry making. This makes it impossible to know all of the different silversmiths. However, the ones who are active will be the easiest to identify, and that is a good reason to post your unknown hallmark on turquoisepeople.com. This is a community of Native American art enthusiasts who want to learn more.

    In Part IV I will answer a question on turquoisepeople.com using these tools.

    Native American Hallmarks Part IV Native American Hallmarks Part IV

    Part IV

    Research Example, How we identify Hallmarks

    This following question was posted on turquoisepeople.com.

    Question from turquoisepeople.com Question from turquoisepeople.com

    Lets work through this identification question together. First, we will approach this question like we only have the Internet to use for a resource.

    I am going to make some general assumptions about the two pieces. I believe that they are both Navajo made due to the style, and also going to age them back to the 1970s – 80s.

    JT Hallmarks JT Hallmarks

    Next, go to the http://www.art-amerindien.com/signature_bijoux_amerindiens.htm site. The ring has a very clear hallmark, letters JT inside a box. You will find you search by first initial on the hallmark site, so we click the J. When we get to the JT section we find several marks, but none of them have the box around them. Fight the temptation to think one of the JT’s is your artist, this is a very distinct hallmark and most likely doesn’t belong to one of the artists listed.

    Images from google search Images from google search

    Now we will turn to Google, the massive search engine. I will conduct a couple of searches using the search terms, “Navajo Hallmark JT”, “Navajo Jewelry JT”. Also, I will do the search under images. I do this because it is much more useful than the web setting. After checking a few of the pictures I do not find what I am looking for, and a quick visual scan of the page doesn’t reveal anything promising. With two Internet strikeouts I will turn to the books.

    JT, Hallmarks of the Southwest JT, Hallmarks of the Southwest

    My go to book is Wright’s Hallmarks of the Southwest. I immediately flip to the back of the book to Index I. Six JT hallmarks are listed, but none with the box around them. Before I begin googling the names associated with the JT hallmarks I turn to Hougart’s Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks. The book is not as easy to use as Wright’s work, but it has lots of images. The book goes by artist’s last name, so I turn to the Ts. I come across a promising picture, and the name associated with the hallmark is Johnson Todacheeny.

    Native American & Southwestern Silver Hallmarks Native American & Southwestern Silver Hallmarks

    I do a Google image search “Johnson Todacheeny White Hogan” to reveal that Johnson Todacheeny appears to be the right name. Turns out he was a silversmith for White Hogan, the shop associated with the “Father of Modern Navajo jewelry” Kenneth Begay.

    Examples of his work Examples of his work

    Many times artists who worked before the age of the Internet (1995ish) can have a very limited presence on the web. Just like we saw with Johnson Todacheeny. Also, I went back to the Hallmarks of the Southwest and found Johnson’s name associated with one of the JT stamped hallmarks, but it did not have the box around it.

    Now that you know the process try to figure out the hallmark associated with the turquoise and coral bracelet. This appears to be more of a symbol, instead of initials, good luck. Share your thoughts on turquoisepeople.com, and remember you can find several unanswered questions here which makes great practice.

    If you have any questions or comments please email me at jason@perrynulltrading.com

  • Top 5 Destinations Native American Arts and Crafts

    With over 40% of the Native American population residing in the western 1/3rd of the United States it makes perfect sense all five cities are in the West, Southwest to be exact. Arizona and New Mexico have great weather in the summer and in the winter. We have a number of different Native American Tribes in both states. With all the visitors coming to the Land of Enchantment and the Grand Canyon State, the local Native American cultures really get an opportunity to share their art and culture.

     

     

    Sedona, Arizona

    Number 5 – Sedona, Arizona

    You could search for a lifetime and might not find a more beautiful setting. Sedona sits in a valley surrounded by amazing red rock mesas. The beauty of Sedona’s landscape will amaze you and after that, all of your senses will become heightened. Sedona is filled with some incredible art galleries; from your first moment you arrive, you will understand that Sedona is a Native American art town. You are going to have lots of art viewing options. You definitely want to find the time to visit Hoel’s Indian Shop and Garland’s Indian Jewelry.

     

     

    Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Number 4 – Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Old Town in Albuquerque will remind you of the Plaza in Santa Fe. This is a place that you can enjoy walking from shop to shop, and if you are getting tired you will find plenty of benches or a café to rest your legs. Old Town has had some legendary shops and you will get a chance to see some great pieces of authentic Native American art. Old Town puts you right in the heart of Albuquerque's best activities. You will find the Museum of New Mexico, Children’s Explora Museum, Natural History Museum and the Rio Grande Zoo conveniently located in the area.

     

     

    Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona

    Number 3 – Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona

    Old Town Scottsdale could very easily be a number one Native American art destination. However, it really slows down in the summertime when those temperatures in the Valley of the Sun consistently stay over the 100-degree mark. Native American art is the blood here, and that shows every March when the Heard Museum holds its annual Indian Fair & Market where many of the top names in the industry show off their incredible creations. You will find Old Town filled with shops. Some of them have been there forever and others are new to the game. Remember you are never going to go hungry shopping for Native American art here, because the district is full of great food.

     

     

    Santa Fe Indian Market

    Number 2 – Santa Fe, New Mexico

    The architecture is Spanish style in the City Different, but everyone knows who was here first. This beautiful city is all about Native American art. Santa Fe is home to the most popular Native American art show in the land. For instance, the annual Indian Market. Many of those award-winning artists that make the Indian Market so popular also call this city home. Another thing is the Rio Grande River flows nearby and that means many of the famous Pueblo Tribes are near by, they fill the city with magnificent pieces of pottery. Don’t miss shopping at Rainbow Man just off the Plaza to see some great pieces of turquoise. Like the other destinations on this list you are going to start planning your next visit before you leave.

     

     

    Route 66 Gallup, New Mexico

    Number 1 – Gallup, New Mexico

    If you are lucky enough to go to the Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family exhibit in New York City it will be something you never forget. One thing you will take away from this exhibit is the reference to Gallup, New Mexico over and over. That is because Gallup is at the heart of Indian Country. The Navajo, Zuni & Hopi Reservations surround this city known for Native American art. It is the main industry of the city and dealers from the other four top destinations make annual trips here to find the jewels that will fill their shops. Gallup definitely doesn’t have that tourist destination feel, but its demographics are majority Native American and it has a very real feel. Everyone in town is an expert of Native American Arts and Crafts and will share with you their favorite Gallup destination to shop.

  • Navajo Chief's Blanket

    Navajo Chief's Blankets

     

    For Katherine the task seemed simple enough.

    “Write something about Navajo Chief's blankets.”

    “All right, that's straightforward.”

     

    Navajo Chief's Blankets: Exceptionally tight, well woven, wide striped blankets in a dimension wider than long; used as wearing apparel and high value trade items from 1800-1885, favored by the Utes and Plains Indians. The blankets were not specifically woven for “Chiefs,” but were given that designation because they were expensive and considered a status item among  Native people. Textile scholars generally concur that there were four phases in the manufacture of Navajo Chief's blankets.

     

    First Phase: 1800-1850

    This was the initial period in which Navajo weavers wove natural, churro wool blankets patterned in wide cream and dark brown stripes. The border bands sometimes included pairs of narrow indigo blue stripes and the indigo stripes were occasionally bordered by narrow lines of raveled red. (Kent:1985)

     

    Second Phase: Early 1800s-1870

    “Small red bars or rectangles of red were woven into the ends and centers of the blue stripes in this type of blanket, thus creating twelve spots of color.” (Kent:1985)

     

    Third Phase: 1860-1880

    In this phase the Chief's blanket is characterized by a shift from twelve red bars or rectangles to “...a nine-position layout of a central diamond, half diamonds along the four edges, and quarter diamonds in the corners.” (Blomberg:1988) The diamonds were usually terraced-edge or serrate and weavers often placed design elements within them, such as “zigzags, crosses, thin lines, stacked elements and triangles.” (Campbell:2007)

     

    Fourth Phase: 1870-1885

    In this last phase the diamond motif eventually became so large that it overshadowed the background stripes.

     

    Katherine found these facts interesting, but without historical or cultural context, what  did they mean? She went back to work and found some items of interest. In a 2002 episode of the Tucson Antiques Roadshow, a striped blanket was identified as a Navajo First Phase Chief's, estimated to be worth from $300,000 to $500,000. Imagine the owner's surprise! Even more startling was a June 2012 YouTube video of the John Moran Auction House auctioning off a First Phase Chief's blanket. The blanket, believed to have been woven around 1840, had been owned by John Chantland, owner of a dry goods store in Mayville, Dakota Territory. Chantland traded goods for the blanket in 1870 and upon his death bequeathed it to his heirs. His great-great grandson was down on his luck and selling the piece. The final bid came in at a staggering $1,500,000.

     

    Now, for Katherine, Navajo Chief's blankets were gaining substance, fleshing out, with actual people, places and stories. Now the blankets were spanning centuries, tying together American history, prairie commerce and modern day excess. While many YouTube viewers championed the rags to riches story of Chantland's heir, others wrote bitter commentary about white people making a fortune off the sweat and tears of a beleagured people.

     

    For deeper understanding Katherine read an article on the Chantland blanket written by Santa Fe dealer Joshua Baer. Baer not only presents the history of the Chantland blanket, but offers a theory for the origin of the Chief's pattern as well. In his opinion the Navajo Chief's blanket was a direct result of 17th century Pueblo influence on Navajo weavers.  Baer claims that the Navajo blanket was a version of the Hopi batchelor blanket, a wider than long blanket composed of “alternating horizontal brown and white stripes overlaid with vertical white stripes.” (Baer:2012)

     

    Baer's theory seemed plausible, but it reminded Katherine of a quote she'd recently read in the book, Walk In Beauty, by Anthony Berlant & Mary Hunt Kahlenberg. Plate 3 of their volume features a red, blue and white Hopi Cape, circa 1800-1865. Its caption states: “With upper and lower stripes, wider than it is long, the cape is the ancestor of the Navajo Chief Blanket.” (Berlant & Kahlenberg:1991)

     

    Katherine mulled over these two perspectives on the Chief's blanket origin. The blanket's early simplicity certainly mirrored the Hope Cape's starkness in design. Yet she pondered...where else had she seen wide striped blankets associated with Native Americans?  Could there be other textiles that influenced Navajo weavers? Then she remembered Hudson Bay Blankets.

     

    ****

     

    After a week spent reading voluminous reports about trappers, fur traders and Native peoples, Katherine realized that tracing striped blankets from Hudson Bay south, east and west across North America was daunting. However she did learn that Indians of 18th century French Louisiana “...made clear their preference for imported woolen blankets in various colors and stripe patterns.” (White:2013) She next learned that the French engaged in regular trade with the Pawnee of Nebraska as early as 1703, that “...traders from St. Louis were among the Pawnees from about 1750 onward at regular intervals,” (Grinnell:1920) and that “In 1806 Pike estimated that Santa Fe traders came to the Pawnee about every third year.” (Hanson & Walters:1976)

     

    Here was evidence that showed early trade from east to west and west to east, but how could Katherine more conclusively link French traders, Pawnees, European striped blankets and the Navajo? She found a possible route in a piece written by archaeologist Dudley Gardner. In the book, The Red Desert, Dudley states: “Both the Pawnees (in Nebraska) and the Mandans (in present day North Dakota) did business in the western interior. The Pawnees and Mandan villages had access to French goods. Kettles and other iron implements from the villages reached the Taos Indians in the late 1600s. By 1700 the southwest traders at Taos and Pecos were actively engaged in trading English goods.”

     

    The famous Taos Trading Fair was also “known far and wide for its slave markets.” The Navajo and Apache raided Pawnee villages to the east and captured slaves to sell to the Spanish. In 1699 Navajos appeared at the Fair “...laden with (Pawnee) slaves, jewels, guns, powder flasks, clothing, and even small pots of brass. The People were acquiring goods other than those of their Pueblo relatives, and the influences they received from the whites may sometimes have come overland from the French.” (Underhill:1956)

     

    To Katherine it seemed possible that striped English blankets were part of this network, that amongst the kettles, slaves and ironwork, Hudson Bays were occasionally to be found. For  another opinion on this theory Katherine wrote to Harold Tichenor, Canadian author of The Blanket, a definitive study of Hudson Bay blankets. His reply warrants repeating.

     

    “I have often thought that the striped blankets from Europe may have influenced the Navajo weavers. It is certain that the Hudson’s Bay Company was trading striped blankets into North America as early as 1671. French traders based out of Montreal also introduced striped blankets into the upper Mississippi most certainly by 1720 or most probably earlier. The fact that there was active trade among the First Nations from before contact and on certainly could have allowed the rapid diffusion of trade blankets into the Southwest.

     

    Whether they came from the Northeast or around west of the Great Lakes I would expect striped blankets were known to the Navajo by an early date. It is not hard to imagine diffusion of HBC blankets from York Factory as early as 1685 to the Cree of the Saskatchewan River on to their Athabascan neighbours to the west and then on south into Navajo country. By this route a blanket could conceivably reach the Navajo within a couple of seasons of its manufacture in England.”

     

    ****

     

    Setting aside the various origin theories for the Navajo Chief's blanket, Katherine moved on to a topic upon which all agree, namely, that the Chief's blanket was an important trade item, “the mother from which all external Navajo trade developed.” (Van Valkenburg & McPhee:1938) Spanish records from the 1700s mention Navajo trade in superior woolen textiles. For a later, American account Katherine found the 1845 words of trader William Boggs near Bent's Old Fort, Colorado. Boggs “...establishes the popularity among the Cheyennes of particularly the banded shoulder blanket in the version called the First Phase Chief Blanket, traded from the Navajos. Boggs described blankets “all alike, with white and black stripe(s) about two inches wide.”” (Herold & Yellowman:2000)

     

    In an article entitled, The Early Fur Trade In Northwestern Nebraska, this colorful snapshot is given: “Until 1849 Pierre Chouteau Jr. & Company were secure in their monopoly except for some small competition from Richards' Fort Bernard eight miles below Laramie. Richards and the other independents were using a large percentage of merchandise from New Mexico - hand-woven blue, white, and brown blankets, abalone shells, Taos whiskey, corn, flour, and dried pumpkins. The Sioux particularly liked some of this exotic merchandise...”(Hanson & Walters:1976)

     

    Lastly, there is the 1853 record of mountain man Alexander Barclay's “final trading venture, a trip to the Indians of the Platte River area, loaded with one of New Mexico's prime trade items, the Navajo blanket...Barclay's first step in preparation for this expedition was to visit the Navajo Indians, “in order to obtain a quantity of peculiar blankets which they very ingeniously weave without machinery, and which, from their durability and firm, decided colors are a very good article of trade with other Indians towards the Missouri River North.”” (Hammond:1976)

     

    ****

     

    At this point Katherine paused and reviewed her work. Thus far she had introduced the Navajo Chief's blanket as a style with four distinct phases, shown that it was prized by collectors, presented three perspectives regarding its origin and through anecdotal accounts, demonstrated that it was an important item in Plains trade. Katherine realized, however, that missing from her narrative was a consideration of the Chief's blanket's spiritual foundation, its root.

     

    Having lived with the Navajo for a number of years, Katherine knew that striped blankets had power, even those commercially made, and that they spoke a language. When riding in a car she was instructed to sit on her Pendleton blanket with the stripes facing forward, in the direction of travel, to facilitate her journey. She knew that the way she crossed her blanket over her chest told a story, and that when sitting on her blanket in the hogan the striped edge had to be turned under. In this way the blanket would protect her from other people's energy. Surely Navajo Chief's blankets of the 1800s had language and power of their own.

     

    Katherine reflected on the ever increasing complexity of the Chief's blanket design, from its early calm, but commanding cream and brown bands, to its Third Phase with multiple design elements, and finally to the Fourth Phase, with its overpowering diamonds. She thought of the time frame for the changes in pattern: 1800, 1860, 1870-1885. What struck her was the strong parallel between the design shifts and increased westward expansion. As pioneer wagons rolled across the prairie and American military presence strengthened, as Native innocents lay massacred at Sand Creek and Washita, as the transcontinental railroad thundered and 30 million bison fell to their knees, the Navajo Chief's blanket may have spoken the language of protection and shield.

     

    The zigzag and cross elements of the Third Phase both hold power – the bow and lightning for the first and the four directions, four colors, four seasons, four elements, with the second. Might these Chief's blankets, traded so heavily on the blood soaked Plains, been woven by Navajo women, consciously or unconsciously, as protection for themselves and brethren Nations? The large diamond element in the Fourth Phase may have represented the Big Star, a most powerful symbol. What better way to shield one's self from a hail of bullets than to wrap one's heart in the Big Star?

     

    These thoughts saddened Katherine and she called her Navajo medicine man friend. “Grandfather, what do these striped blankets mean?”

     

    “You put the life of nature on you,” he said. “Mother Earth is talking. The stars are talking. Black and white, night and day. The stripes are the layered rock. We put it on like that. That rock is our bone inside our skin. It's what inside that bone, the marrow, the foundation of it all.”

     

    That night Katherine sat with book in hand and somberly read the words of Lieutenant James H. Simpson, the man “who led the first American expedition into Navajo country in 1849. He remarked in his diary that a group of Navajo attired in their blankets reminded him of “stratified rock formations.” (Berlant & Kahlenberg:1991)

  • Faking the Art -Navajo Jewelry, Authentic Artwork

    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 one might think a turquoise bracelet is just that, a turquoise bracelet.

    What is Navajo Jewelry and 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.

    Navajo Jewelry 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's Self-Inflicting Wounds – Native American Art

    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.  This leads to a great wealth of Native American art!
    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.

    "Native American Art" in the Local News

    It is against the law to misrepresent Native American art or 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.

    Native American art 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? Buying Native American Art

    Gallup, New Mexico has two types of Wholesale Businesses for Native American Art

    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 sales 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 which 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

    native american art

    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: Don't Let Fake Art Fool You

    Fake Art Imposters

     

    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's really fake art 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 art and merchandise by numerous solicitors.

    We WORK hard to Sell the REAL Thing

    The problem isn’t always about money where fake art 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. Impostors 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

  • Navajo Squash Blossom Necklace

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

    Squash Blossom Necklace

    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, the inverted crescent pendant. 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

    Navajo Squash Blossom Necklace

     

  • Hammered Coin Silver Jewelry - V. Tracy

    Navajo silversmith Vernon Tracy shares with us some of the steps it takes to turn coin silver into a piece of wearable art, the hammered coin silver jewelry. 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 creating hammered coin silver jewelry http://www.youtube.com/user/jasonatperrynulltrad?ob=0&feature=results_main.

    Hammered Coin Silver Jewelry Vernon Tracy - Steps
  • 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 Vault

    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.

    Dead Pawn Perry looking at Pawn

    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 Pawn Dead Pawn being Priced
  • Saddles Galore! Check out this Navajo Pawn

    Navajo Pawn

     

    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.  These saddles are often Navajo pawn that has been left and are now for sale.

    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.  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.

  • Cost of Collecting Native American Art

    Tobe Turpen Jr. changed the style of the 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.  He wanted to promote collecting of Native American Art.

    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.

    Educating the Buyer

    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 for those making and collecting Native American Art 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.

    collecting Native American Art
    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 Counting the cost of collecting Native American art

    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 have 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 National News
    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.
    Indian Friendship Project  
    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 a T-shirt, $30, Send email to info@perrynulltrading.com
  • Our new Native Art Affiliate Program

    Grab yourself a discount!

    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 Native art 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 for the Native art  affiliate program:

    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:

    Native art affiliate program

    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 Native art 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.

  • Identify the Jewelry Maker: Navajo, Hopi, & Zuni

    Who made my jewelry? This might be a question we hear a dozen times a day, and the person who asks expects us to be able to identify the jewelry maker. 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.
    Identify the Jewelry maker

    Excellent for Hopi Hallmarks

    image

    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

    Identify the Jewelry maker

    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.

    image

    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.

    image

    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

  • Most Collectible Turquoise: The Top Ten

    Pilot Mountain Turquoise

    If your idea of “top” means the most expensive, most collectible turquoise,  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
    most collectible turquoise 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 the right stone for you?

    “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 their 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

  • Native American Hallmarks – Artist Identifier

    What are Native American 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 Native American 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.

    Native American Hallmarks

    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

    American vs Chinese TurquoiseThe winner of the American vs Chinese turquoise battle?

    ...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 Chinese turquoise 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, New Mexico

    Things change, it is the age of the big box store and chain restaurants. Gallup, New Mexico 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.

    Gallup, New Mexico

    You don’t have to shop at the Big Box when you visit Gallup, New Mexico

    At least we still have places like Gallup, New Mexico. 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, New Mexico 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, New Mexico 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

  • Collecting Native American Art; A Valuable Collection

    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

    collecting Native American art Calvin Martinez Jewelry

    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 collectible Lander Blue Turquoise

    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.

    When collecting Native American Art you have to 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 Maiden Inlay Pendant by GB

    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

    Should you cut out the middleman for artist direct sales?

    Many reasons come to mind when buyers want to forgo the middleman and have artist direct sales.  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

    artist direct sales Wide sellection of styles and sizes of rings...

    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 the same monetary needs we all have. Also, many buyers think dealers beat down artists for cheap prices and take that approach when pursuing artist direct sales. 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 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 bracelets by Calvin Martinez

    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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