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An extremely rare pair of historic Navajo

tufa-cast silver cuff bracelets, c.1930’s-40’s

IT DOESN’T HAPPEN very often, but occasionally, you will find more than one piece of Navajo or Pueblo jewelry which was cast from the very same tufa-stone mold. The reasons for this are several; tufa molds are extremely difficult to carve properly and silversmiths want to get as many casts as possible from them until the mold breaks down. Because the process of tufa-casting is so tricky, even in the hands of a master, some casts may simply be completely unusable from the start and others may be unstable and break in the process of finishing. If a silversmith is very fortunate, he might get two or three usable casts from the same tufa mold, but this possibility gets more unlikely the larger and more complex the piece of jewelry is, such as these bracelets. It’s something of a minor miracle to see a successfully completed pair of such sizable and complicated pieces as these. The unknown silversmith who made these bracelets was clearly a virtuoso of his craft.

We have had only two other such pairs of tufa-cast silver pieces previously over the past thirty years. One of these was

a pair of small, crescent-shaped silver pins by the renowned contemporary Navajo silversmith, McKee Platero. The second pair were two Cochiti Pueblo silver bangle bracelets which we purchased in the late 1980’s.

Interestingly, we acquired these two beautiful, large cuff bracelets almost simultaneously from places that are literally thousands of miles apart. It is a most interesting speculation to imagine how they might have gotten to where we found

them far away from their place of origin in the Southwest, most likely Arizona or New Mexico. As you can see through a careful examination, the silversmith slightly varied the stamp and chisel work decorations on each of the bracelets. The stamped and chiselled motifs on the bracelet fronts are extremely similar while those on the terminals differ a bit more which makes for a wonderful and fascinating artistic comparison.

The bracelets are not identical twins, but fraternal twins, so to speak, born of the same parents at around the same time. They are almost the same size and weight, but with some very minor variations. Both bracelets measure 2 1/2” in width at their widest center point. The bracelet at left was shaped to have a slightly larger gap between the terminals. The inner circumference end-to-end of the bracelet at left is 5 1/2" and the gap between the terminals is 1 3/16" to 1 1/4" for a total interior circumference of 6 11/16" to 6 3/4". This bracelet weighs 86 grams or 3 ounces.

The inner circumference end-to-end of the bracelet at right is 5 7/16" and the gap between its terminals is a somewhat smaller 15/16" to 1" for a total interior circumference of 6 3/8" to 6 7/16". This bracelet weighs 88 grams or 3 1/8 ounces.

The gaps on both bracelets are just slightly uneven, so the overall measurements vary just slightly. Both of the bracelets are in excellent original condition with a fine soft patina from age and use.

This is an unusual opportunity to acquire something most distinctive and unique, a very rare pair indeed. Perfect for

his and hers, hers and hers, his and his, or yours and yours. Whatever your particular preference happens to be, you

can be assured that you both will look absolutely terrific wearing these beautiful bracelets.

Price $4,900 for the pair, $2,750 each


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