Old Pawn is the most highly collectible Indian jewelry. Our selection is many from the 1940-50's. The March 1975 issue of Arizona Highways magazine explains dead pawn as this:
"Contrary to opinions of pseudo-experts, old pawn is not merely a piece of jewelry that an Indian has pawned (an exchange of personal property for money as a secured loan) because he need money...For us, the value and emotional attraction for old pawn jewelry is that it has been owned, appreciated, worn and used by real, living Native American Indians.
When a Navajo man or woman wanted a piece of jewelry he went to a silversmith, usually a relative. The piece was made to order and scaled to the wearer's size and build. In most cases the buyer furnished the makings-silver, turquoise, old jewelry or whatever was needed. From John Adair's book The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths:
"Sheep, goats, or calves are common forms of payment, and by this exchange many smiths (jewelry makers) have built up large flocks. Lacking cash, the buyers often secure credit at the trading post some desired object for the smith. Turquoise or silver may be given for the jewelry, or the buyer may render some service to the smith, such as working in his fields or herding his sheep"...
The discerning Navajo knew beauty and excellence in craftsmanship and would never wear sloppily made, poorly constructed silver...The Navajos kept their silver bright, shining and untarnished by by brushing it in yucca suds and water.
In summary, old pawn racks were rich and splendid sources of jewelry created by the finest Navajo silversmiths of their day, for their people, and uncontaminated by taste and influence of alien people and cultures."
If articles placed in pawn are not redeemed within the contractual length of time, the jewelry becomes "dead pawn" and may be sold by the trader. We have had the good fortune of finding a wonderful collection of dead pawn bracelets, rings and necklaces that only recently came to light after decades of being in storage! Enjoy perusing our offerings.