Hopi H piece

I’m out at a flea market and came across this little morsel. I know nothing about Hopi jewelry. Wondering what the avid collectors think of this one. It’s calling me! Authentic or repro?


Nice find.
Ralph Tawangyaouma, Hopi Pueblo, Corn Clan, active ca. 1906-late1960s: traditional hand-wrought cast, set stone, stampwork, and silver jewelry. Ralph is the husband of Caroline Tawangyawma and first cousin of Pierce Kewanwytewa. Ralph Tawangyawma is remembered as one of the finest traditional Hopi silversmiths. His work is highly valued by serious collectors.


Cant authenticate the maker. but all of the stamp and file work was done by hand. Stamps are all handmade and unusual. incredible detail on the chain with links detailed with a fine checkering file. If the price is right, this one looks like a keeper.

ETA: Theme definitely looks like ears of corn, with cloud and rain motifs.


It’s beautiful. Interesting though, from the pic it doesn’t appear to have the etching in the black (although not every Hopi artist does that, but most do). But otherwise looks Hopi, and the Hallmark seems to be a Hopi name. I absolutely LOVE Hopi work.


I’m not home now, but when I am I can look it up in my book on Hopi jewelry. I see that @fernwood has looked up the Hallmark; I’ll see if I have any further info. I wonder why the name on the tag is different?


I wondered the same thing.
I got the ID from Art Amerindien.
Ramon Albert Dalangyawma has similar, but different Hallmarks.


It really does look like Ramon’s hallmark as shown at Medicine Man more so than Ralph T. The difference in value would be very significant.
Medicine Man:

Hougart shows several Ralph T hallmarks with similar elements, but none with the combination of the serif typeface H and a four-stroke cloud base. Maybe one for the specialist dealers to weigh in on.

Then there’s era: Ralph T. passed in 1972 ish. Were Hopi panel necklaces in the marketplace in his productive years? My ref books are inaccessible to check on this.


Very interesting on the hallmarks.

Here is what Art Ameridien has.


ra-dalangyawma-ramon-albert 2
ra-dalangyawma-ramon-albert-hopi 3
12r-albert-dalangyawma-ramon-hopi 4
dalangyawma-ramon-albert-jr 5

hopi-tawangyaouma-ralph 1


@fernwood Now I wonder if Maybe Medicine Man is wrong on Ramon: Hougart for Ramon is like what you’ve shown, too, no mark resembling H with cloud mark.

The Ralph marks of Art Amerindien aren’t complete, but, like Hougart, it shows five strokes for the cloud base with the serif H, not four. Oddly enough, in Hougart there’s a Ralph T hallmark with a sans serif H and a four-stroke cloud base, so perhaps the initial style was alternated–but no reference shows this to be the case.


I cropped the above hallmark. Now I am even more confused.
It sure looks like Ralph to me, but with 4 strokes.

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Sure looks like Ralph to me. I would jump on it, especially since if they misidentified it it may be a good price, but I beleive it’s authentic Hopi either way. Ralph seemed to have a lot of different hallmarks, all versions of this rain cloud but also all slightly different. I have even seen the rain cloud etched, not stamped, on some pieces from sources I trust.

Here’s the Hougart entry:

As @chicfarmer points out, there is no example here that’s a combination of a serif H and a four rain drop rain cloud. But there are each separately, and since they would have been separate stamps anyway, it makes sense that he may have used them in different combinations.

And here’s the entry on Ralph from the Messier’s book, “Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry:”

A serif H combined with a four rain drop rain cloud. Still not an exact match to @GreenRock’s, the arrows are a little different, but they may also have been different stamps and I think it’s probably close enough given the variation in his hallmarks.

As far as @Ziacat’s comment about it not having etching (tamping) in the recesses that’s typical of Hopi jewelry—that’s for overlay (and wasn’t present on the earliest Hopi overlay). This necklace is stamped, consistent with what Ralph was known for, which is why we don’t see any tamping.


What an exciting possibility. I hadn’t seen that Messier page, my stash is offline at the moment; if I had I would’ve felt more secure in the attribution. Great call!

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From Hopi Silver the History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing

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So I looked back through the book and found several examples of his work. And yes, I was wrong bout the stamps. I wasn’t thinking about his work being earlier, and didn’t look close enough to see that it was stamped (I was distracted by playing Rumikin at family’s :grin::grin:). Thought @GreenRock might enjoy this info.

[Uploading: IMG_20220814_213854890.jpg…]

On the other page it said that the cuff was probably made in the 1920s and the squash blossom in 1957 (both by him).

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Thank you all for your time and research @Ziacat , @chicfarmer , @mmrogers , @OrbitOrange , and @fernwood ! I did get the necklace…it called me back to a dark and cluttered jewelry case. I thought the piece was Mexican at first, then I saw symbols on the back and went Hmmm! For a choker size necklace it has some weight to it and very different from anything I currently have, so I went for it.

My head is spinning trying to keep the names of the two artists straight! Here’s a more close up picture of the stamping in reference to @Ziacat question about lines in the dark areas. Most areas are smooth, but some triangle areas and bottom of the crests have parallel raised lines.

The only thing the seller could tell me was it came out of an estate from someone who had really nice jewelry. Another seller I showed it to thought it might be from the 40s or 50s.

I happened to notice that some of the imagery/stamps in the picture @OrbitOrange posted (far right bracelet of the three pieces) do look similar to stamps used in the necklace.


I would have been over ecited to find something like that.


Thank you @fernwood ! I guess I’m just in disbelief going from a piece I thought was Mexican, to wondering if it was really Hopi, to finding out it wasn’t who the seller tagged it as, to learning it might be Ralph T, who I knew nothing about until yesterday. I had a chance to read up on him a little last night and I think I’m just in shock if it really is his work. Can I still wear it???:star_struck: Or is it the type of piece that stays boxed up and you just look at it?:sleepy:


Thank you @OrbitOrange for all the resourses you were able to pool together on this! I had to re-read all of this to make sense of it. Now I’m seeing Ralph T. as a possibility! I’m blown away.

I can’t thank this forum enough for all the learning we have access to! For me, I think the pictures everyone posts imprint in my memory. When I’m out junking, those imprints are like new lenses in which I see things that I wouldn’t have even noticed before. That and the energy the older pieces exude that call to me, for which I have no explanation. It’s so much fun.


First of all, congratulations on finding such a wonderful piece! I’m glad someone got it who will love it and appreciate its value rather than just buying it because they thought it was a pretty trinket. Now I’ll give you my two cents about whether to wear it or put it in a box to keep it safe. Forgive me if I wax a little philosophical here, but my brother is struggling with end-stage pancreatic cancer so I see things through a somewhat different lens than I did, say, even 6 months ago.

IMO, wear it and enjoy it (even if just on special occasions), or if that feels too scary, maybe put it in a shadowbox and hang it on a wall. We can’t take anything with us when we pass, so the time to enjoy it is now. It can be tempting to put it away so it doesn’t get lost or broken, but then where’s the enjoyment in that. I remember my mom had a beautiful Zia pot that she got back in the 60s. A few years before she died we found out how much it was actually worth (a LOT more than she paid). She got nervous, and said maybe she should put it away, even though it had been out for decades with children, grandchildren, and dogs in the house. Fortunately I talked her into leaving it out. I know sometimes the thought is to pass something on to other family members after we die, but they might not necessarily enjoy it as much. Or, like me who does appreciate things my mom left to me, enjoy them even more because I saw how much pleasure she got from owning them.


@GreenRock - I say, wear it! Unless you’re competing is football, rugby, or boxing. :slightly_smiling_face:

@ziacat - Very sorry to hear about your brother. Wishing him and your family strength and peace.