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A magnificent, heavy chiselled and stamp worked vintage Navajo silver cuff bracelet by Mark Chee, c.1950’s-60’s

This extraordinary chiseled and stamped silver cuff bracelet by the renowned Navajo silversmith, Mark Chee (1904-1981) is an astonishingly beautiful and impressive piece and its strength and beauty are exceptionally compelling.

Mark Chee was a completely traditional Navajo silversmith in every way and over the course of his long career he relied upon the use of only a few simple tools, most of which he made himself. To attain such a degree of elegance, finesse and refinement in his finished pieces with such basic materials, tools and methods is a testament to his exceptional imagination, determination and ability. Chee came up the long way from the very beginning moving from his tiny isolated one-horse Reservation town of Lukachukai, Arizona to Santa fe as a very young teenager where he began his career in the 1920's working for $5.00 a week polishing stones in Julius Gans’ famous Southwest Arts and Crafts trading post on the plaza in the very heart of downtown Santa Fe.

At left, Navajo silversmiths at Julian Gans' Southwest Arts and Crafts, Santa Fe, NM, 1935. Mark Chee is pictured second from left. At right, Mark Chee at work, c. 1940's

Left and right photo source and © Frasher's Fotos

The city was an extremely exciting artistic milieu at the time particularly for a young Navajo jeweler as greatness abounded around every corner. Ambrose and Sam Roanhorse were working there as were the great Cochiti Pueblo silversmiths Joe H. Quintana and David Taliman, Hopi smith Lewis Lomay as well as Frank Patania’s Thunderbird Shop and many others. Chee rapidly gained proficiency and over the years he became an important Santa Fe silversmithing rock star and institution working for such luminaries as Gans, Al Packard and Patania until going out on his own around 1960.

The overall design and hand craftsmanship evident here is exceptional in every aspect. The construction is absolutely astounding, this bracelet is built as beautifully and as solidly as the Golden Gate Bridge and is no less heavy duty.

To attain such strength with such obvious finesse and grace is the mark of the true master. The bracelet’s silver shank

is most beautifully and gracefully proportioned and the detailed chisel and stampwork along both sides of the deeply chiseled central panel is quite remarkable, in fact we have never seen a decorative treatment quite as original and unique as this one from Mark Chee.

The bracelet measures 5/8" in continuous width all the way around and the silver shank is a serious full 1/4" in thickness. The bracelet is sized for the smaller sized wrist with an inner circumference end-to-end of 5 1/16" with a 1" gap between the terminals for a total interior circumference of 6 1/16". The bracelet weighs a very substantial 105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces. The bracelet is properly and very beautifully signed on the interior with Mark Chee’s customary last name inside

a profiled bird’s head hallmark and it is in completely excellent original vintage condition with some age-appropriate wear and a fine soft patina.

We have seen a good many of Mark Chee’s wonderful bracelets over the past 35 years, and we can conclusively say that while quite of few of these were very very good or really really excellent, in our view this particular piece stands very near the very top literally glowing with the aura of true, artistic and historic greatness. This is a pure unadulterated real deal masterwork of historic Navajo silver by one of the greatest practitioners who ever swung a hammer.