Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Return to the Land of Buttons

A few years ago, we were lucky enough to be able to offer the Jay Evetts collection of Indian silver buttons and dress ornaments. It was the finest private collection of its type, put together over a span of 35 years by one of the most respected traders in the business. The finest examples from the collection have long since passed into private and museum hands, and it is not likely that we will ever see their like again.

Here's Jay, in all his glory.

The only way to find buttons and ornaments of that quality is to wait for them to come out of nowhere, which never happens, or to see if some of Jay's pieces come back on the market. That is what has happened, and we are again proud to offer three incredibly fine pairs from his collection. These were among the best pieces he had, and were sold before the collection was offered publicly in Santa Fe--making them completely fresh to the market.

The pair on the right is the largest and most "typical" of the three pairs--it is a large and very well-made pair of moccasin buttons, circa 1930. Each button is 2 13/16" in diameter, which is at the upper end size-wise for Navajo buttons.

Here is a closer view of the pair, showing the marvelous stampwork edges and repousse sunburst design in the middle. The turquoise are a wonderful pale blue with just a hint of black matrix. It is one of the finest pairs of large buttons from that era known to exist, and was one of the highlights of his collection. $1600 with custom stand (KN MH/006)

The center pair are not true buttons, but rather dress ornaments. The only difference between ornaments and buttons to the Navajo, who did not use buttons in the traditional sense, was the number of sew loops on the back--buttons had one in the center, while ornaments had two or more on the back. Both were used purely for decoration, especially when they were this large.

Each ornament is 2 1/4" high, and nicely decorated with stampwork and repousse. They date to circa 1930, and include some absolutely gorgeous Lone Mountain turquoise. Of all the pieces in Jay's collection, this pair contained the finest turquoise. $1500 with custom stand (KN MH/007)

Finally, the most dramatic of the three pairs. Technically, they are ornaments because of the pair of sew loops on the back, but the distinction is not important. What is important is the incredible quality of the silverwork.

By style and technique, this pair can be attributed to the Goodluck family, and are the only attributable ornaments in the entire collection. The quality of the work is absolutely incredible, and the scale of the ornaments (2 1/2" high) is quite imposing. They would look at home on a top quality concho belt, but there is no evidence that they were ever made as anything other than a pair of ornaments. They date to circa 1940, and are SOLD with custom stand. (KN MH/003)

For those of you who are looking for something slightly smaller in Navajo buttons, we have the collection below, all of which were collected at the Oljato Trading Post in Utah before 1940. Prices on them vary, but range from $10 up to $100 for the largest and most elaborate. If any interest you, give us a call and we can pick some out for you.