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.
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.