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Turquoise & Tufa

Vintage Bell Trading Post Snake Eye Turquoise Bracelet

Vintage Bell Trading Post Snake Eye Turquoise Bracelet

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In this vintage narrow turquoise bracelet set with a row of round "snake eye" stones is a little story about the Bell Trading Post founded during the Great Depression in Albuquerque, New Mexico along the recently completed Route 66.

Bell Trading Post was established by Jack Michelson and his wife in 1932. They hoped to follow Fred Harvey's model of employing Native American artists to make jewelry for tourists. Harvey's customers came mostly by train, and the Michelson's customers arrived mostly by car on Route 66. Both Harvey and the Michelsons used special machines so that their jewelry could be fabricated in multiples rather than painstakingly handmade. 

During the height of the Great Depression, Bell Trading Post used copper and nickel silver for some creations in order to save money. Those copper and nickel silver pieces are still collectible. This sweet bracelet is even more so as it's actually made with sterling silver (stamped "sterling").

You'll find some of these similar Bell Trading Post curio bracelets that have been erroneously dated "early" or circa 1920's, however, the hallmark on these bracelets helps us identify their date. This one is stamped with the second Bell Trading Post hallmark. It's the mark the Michelsons used when they filed their first trademark in the early 1960's. They used this mark until the early 1970's when the trading post became the Sunbell Trading Post and signed its jewelry with a 3rd hallmark.

That little hallmark history means that we can safely date this narrow snake eye bracelet with its silver beads and stamp work circa 1965 rather than 1920's. 

The bracelet comes to Turquoise & Tufa from the collection of a woman who purchased a select number of narrow vintage turquoise row bracelets to wear as stackers. Over her life she acquired a nice little group of these stackers. Each of her stacker bracelets is similar in that it's set with a row of round turquoise stones, but each one stands out for different collectible reasons. Some are Zuni made. Some are curio shop bracelets. Some have green turquoise. Some have natural turquoise. Taken together, these row bracelets show what an intentional collection looks like. They're also really nice to wear all at once - hint hint. 

This bracelet in particular is the one example from the collection of a Bell Trading Post piece, a nice token from the post Fred Harvey Southwest Native American tourist trade. It's also a bracelet with provenance. It measures 5 3/8" inside plus a 1" opening that can be gently opened or closed to fit better. The width is 3/8"

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