Q: I recently inherited a squash blossom set from the 1920s. I don’t know a thing about it, but I want to sell. Who would buy it?
A: Here’s another version on a theme we often see. Folks, leaving treasures to someone doesn’t automatically mean that they will cherish or even appreciate the gift. Think about that before you plop your beloved items into the care of another.
When you elect to present a gift to an heir, friend, family member, etc., I suggest that you fill them in ahead of time. See if the gift is welcome. At least leave info on what the item is and include approximate value at the time of writing. To be really helpful, add info on how they can dispose of the item if and when they choose to sell. Sounds gruesome, but that is true caring.
An image sent shows what appears to be a Navajo squash blossom necklace with matching earrings. The style is named for the stylized silver squash blossoms that adorn the necklace. Instead of turquoise, the stones in this necklace are coral. Attached is a tag marked by the reader’s aunt noting that it is a Navajo squash blossom necklace from the 1920s.
We asked Steve Begner, of Turkey Mountain Traders, Scottsdale (www.turkey-mountain.com), to take a look. The Begner family has long specialized in pre-1940s Native American arts.
Unfortunately, in this case, your relative meant well, but her facts are wrong. Which brings us to another lesson: When you leave that info, be as correct as you can.
According to Begner, the necklace is “probably” Navajo, but it’s not from the 1920s.
“Necklaces from the 1920s are typically made of hand-hammered ingot silver or cast from molten silver,” he told us. “This necklace is clearly made from commercial sheet silver.” More telling, “This type of silver setting with leaves was normally done in the 1970s.”
When assessing Navajo jewelry, the earlier the better. Later works tend to be more commercial. See FYI below.
Finer squash blossoms of the ’70s had a hallmark on the back of the naja, or center pendant, that IDs the piece as work by a major artist. Major artists also produced more distinctive works. Bluntly, this necklace set is not unique or distinctive enough to be artist-made. It is better costume jewelry.
Begner adds that “many squash-blossom necklaces like this were made in the 1970s.” While the use of coral makes the reader’s set “somewhat unusual,” the output means that many are still available. That, plus the fact that demand is not high, keeps prices down.
He estimated fair market value at $700 to $1,000. Compare that with the $8,000 to $10,000 value of an early 1900s squash blossom in a photo with this column.
The best place to sell is an online auction. Checking eBay, we found 19 listings ranging from $559 to $2,000. Completed sales ranged from $192.50 to $685.
FYI: “Fred Harvey Jewelry 1900-1955,” by Dennis June (Schiffer, $39.99), has a helpful section on eras of commercial silver jewelry sold at Harvey House tearooms and restaurants. Starting in the early 1900s, roadside Harvey gift shops went a long way to creating today’s interest in Southwestern Indian jewelry. Much of the silver-and-turquoise jewelry worn today started as souvenirs from Harvey shops.
Q: I want to sell my four mint-condition Lalique plates. Each has an authentic signature. Can you suggest a price and prospective buyers?
A: Seen in a photo sent, the reader has collector plates for four years within 1966-76.
One classic rule of collecting is that anything expressly made to be collected, such as plates in a series, will never have significant value.
The best place to sell collectibles is an online auction. We found 240 listings for Lalique plates on eBay. Almost all were for the collectible series. Exact versions of the reader’s plates sold for $31.55 to $45.