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An exceptionally fine vintage Navajo ingot-silver
“Second-Phase” concho-style belt buckle, c.1920’s-30’s
This one is a real classic beauty; a very finely and traditionally-crafted large Navajo Second-Phase style oval concho-type buckle. It is referred to in that manner because the buckle has a similar oval shape with a scalloped and perforated outer edge and a closed center as did the Classic-Period 2nd Phase Navajo silver conchos made at the turn of the 20th Century, from around 1890-1910. The unknown silversmith who made this buckle really knew his business well; he began by melting down a quantity of American or Mexican silver coins and cast them into an ingot-silver “slug” from which he then hammered out and shaped to form the body of the buckle. When he was satisfied with that, he then beautifully repousseed, chiseled and stamped the various decorative designs into the buckle and scalloped and perforated the outside edge. A final and beautiful artistic touch is the perfectly crafted tufa cast silver tang which holds the belt strap.
This buckle was made before Navajo silversmiths generally began signing their work around the 1940’s, but the style and extremely high level of craftsmanship evident in this piece is reminiscent in certain ways of the fine work of one of the great C.G. Wallace Trading Post’s all-star Navajo silversmiths, Roger Skeet Sr. (1900-1959) and it is certainly possibly that Skeet might have been the buckle’s maker, but we will never really know.
The body of the buckle measures a very impressively-sized 3 7/8” in width, 3” in height and it is approximately 3/8” in depth. It will accept a belt strap of up to 1 5/8” in width. The buckle weighs a comfortable and easy-to-wear 61 grams or 2 1/8 ounces and it is in excellent original condition with some age-appropriate scratches and nicks from wear.
It has a fine lustrous almost glowing patina.
This piece is an outstanding Second Phase concho-style buckle that is second to none in terms of beauty and quality.
Note: The leather belt pictured here is for demonstration purposes only and is not included in the sale
of this buckle. If desired, we can recommend an excellent custom belt maker here in Santa Fe.
At right, a well dressed Navajo man wearing a Navajo Classic Period Second Phase-Style silver concho belt,
c. 1920's. His concho belt could have been made by the same silversmith who made this buckle.
Photo source and © John Adair "The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths"