The mark sure looks Singer-y to me. But there’s something missing. No “S” and no “T.” But the hand-work doesn’t say Singer to me. (Then again, I own all of three pieces with the old “TC” mark, only one of which I’ve verified here, so I’m far from an expert on all of his work.)
The other crescent moon hallmark artists also seem to add another figure next to the moon. Is this maybe a mis-strike?
I was thinking the same thing. No T and no S and not Singer-y type of silver work. My one and only Singer inlay piece has the weird Singer mark. I’ve posted it here last year.
Could definitely be a mis-strike, but seems so odd. Of course, I’m not an expert, so may continue to be a mystery. Regardless, I love it and it fits which is always my battle! Thank you for your input!
Can you tell me how long you have had it? Where you acquired the piece? Thanks.
Hi Jason. I just bought it a few days ago online from a dealer in NE Utah. I’ve bought a few things from them over the past several years. They are near the Ute Rez so have a lot of beadwork items, but I always lean towards the Navajo pieces they come up with.
For a point of comparison:
Here are pictures of a pair of earrings that I own which I’m pretty sure are by Tommy Singer. (If anyone can tell me otherwise, I’d appreciate it. ) The texture and the wave motif are designs I’ve seen in his other work.
I’m showing them because these are not chip inlay, but they have the older signature.
The Sterling stamp underneath the signature resembles the Sterling stamp on yours, too.
(I love these – I love owning them – but I have to put reinforcement on the backs of my ears over the piercings when I wear these earrings. They’re heavy. Maybe they were made from ingots. The right-hand earring is NOT damaged at the top, it’s just a smooth spot in the otherwise grainy texture and appears to be a natural flaw.)
Gorgeous! From what I’ve seen, I’d say those are definitely Tommy Singer based on the hallmark and the silver work! I would wear them every day!
My only Tommy Singer piece has a few pieces of inlay missing. Since it’s a pendant and tends to get knocked on table edges, etc., I didn’t want to cause further damage. So I mounted it in a shadow box. At least I see it daily!
Thank you. My point in posting was that if you look at the signature on my earrings and cover over the “T,” they are similar – from the crescent moon shape to the italics typeface style in which “Sterling” is rendered.
Could this be really, really early work?
Did Singer use many stamps? My two chip inlay Singer pieces have just a little stamped decoration. What predominates is a sort of “scored” look, like your pendant, which resembles freehand sketching. (BTW, the scene on your pin-pendant is really great. Is that Rainbowman with the flexible yogi-like spine arching over the clouds and mountains and scrub, and a flying bird? There is so much going on there when you look at it. It’s a great composition and arrangement of various elements.)
I was reading Hougart for a compendium of Singer hallmarks. I don’t think I’m imagining that the author is dismissive of Singer: “Tommy Singer was the entrepreneurial patriarch of bench-line piece work factories of the Navajo Singer families.” What a burn. (I think.) I value the hand of the maker and the artisan ethos, but artists have got to make a living & we live in a capitalistic society. If Singer’s shops helped provide for a lot of people in the family, how is that a bad thing?
I did notice the Sterling stamp on your earrings and my bracelet right off the bat. And again, the crescents are the same. Your earrings though are really identifiable as Tommy Singer work, while this bracelet? If it was chip inlay…maybe!
Tommy had a lot of hallmarks. Here is a link to a blog keep by Paula at Horsekeeping here in Denver. If I copied the link correctly, scroll read some of her responses to Singer questions and she lists some of his hallmarks. I think there are 7 or so. https://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/what-is-a-native-american-hallmark/
I forgot to mention…I’m attached to my Singer rain man pendant even with chips missing. He is very detailed. I’ve lived in Colorado for 45 years. It reminds me of Colorado, even though for Tommy he was thinking of New Mexico. We suffer from horrible drought conditions, a lot of fires, water restrictions, etc. We always pray for rain in the summer months. Love to see clouds rolling in.
Lot of great pictures in this post. I would get the bracelet tested to see if it is sterling silver. We see a lot of these pieces come into the shop that have this small plating of sterling silver, but if you test the metal on the sides it often reveals nickel. Once we determine if the piece is nickel or silver then we can go forward trying to determine the artist. If it is nickel we can assume that we are trying to be tricked, it has a sterling mark and a hallmark stamp to deceive. If it is sterling silver we go forward and research the mark. The one thing is we don’t think of Singer jewelry being done in this style.
Now, we have two other pieces shown. A pair of earrings and a pendant. If you look at the hallmark this is a good lesson. You can tell the pendant hallmark has been stamped into the silver, but on the earrings you will notice the raise in the mark that seems to even create a shadow. That earring has been cast, which is also revealed on the front side by the texture and similar run on the overlay design, top left.
I have included images from Hougarts and Wright’s hallmark books. You will notice how the crescent is smaller than we find in the earring. Hallmarks can definitely change over time, and I am not familiar with Tommy Singer’s marks.
The late Steven J Begay grew up in the Holbrook area, close to where Tommy Singer had his shop. He talked about getting his start in those shops, helping Tommy Singer keep up with demand during the boom. Many times that is how it works with Navajo silversmiths, you have to learn somewhere. Gary Reeves worked in Harry Morgan’s shop. Kirk Smith helped several young silversmiths begin their careers by helping him make his pieces. Tommy Jackson is known to do this to help meet demand. This is common practice and I doesn’t take away from value. However, when the piece is cast with the artist’s hallmark that is when it takes away from the value.
Wow Jason! A wealth of information! Some of those Singer hallmarks I had never even heard of before, let alone seen.
I did check the bracelet with my heavy duty magnet, which does pick up a lot of silver coatings over other metals. It wasn’t interested. However, I don’t have a testing kit, so will need to either pick one up or go to my favorite jeweler to see if he can check it for me. That is great advice!
I had read that many silversmith’s trained or worked with others to learn their trade. I’m a true believer that if one learns from the best, it carries on to their own work when they move on. And as you said, during the boom it was difficult for any of them to keep up with demand. I hope the boom returns some day!
When I get the alloy confirmed, will provide an update! Thank you again!
Jason, thanks. This is so informative.
Those earrings were a little under $100, from antique shop/jeweler in El Paso.
I hesitated over them, but the wave design and the texture stuck with me. They’re about two inches long and just under an inch and a half wide, and as I said, they’re awfully heavy. They really should be a clip earring. If I wore them daily my earlobes would eventually stretch out to my shoulders.