Fred Harvey era silver bracelet with a natural turquoise stone. The green turquoise cabochon is surrounded with a silver raindrop pattern. A Navajo lightning snake is stamped on both sides. The ½” wide hand stamped bracelet with a traditional Navajo pattern is 4 1/8” inside with a 1 1/8” gap.
Unsigned: Silver jewelry of this age was rarely signed. Ca 1940
The Fred Harvey Company hired Navajo and Pueblo silversmiths (as well as other craftsmen) to create jewelry to sell to tourists along the Santa Fe Railroad line. (Circa 1920’s-1950’s)
About the artist
Fred Harvey Style
(1900 – 1955)
The peak of the Fred Harvey era tourist-quality Native American style jewelry was from 1900-1930, the decline caused mainly by the closure of the railroad depot lunchrooms and shops due to the development of the automobile and the decline in railroad travel. Even so, it continued to be produced until the mid-1940s or 1950s. The . continued on until the 1970s.
Fred Harvey [1835 – 1901] was a prominent 19th century Native American curios entrepreneur, business man, hotel and restauranteur who fairly established the emerging 20th century American tourist fascination with traveling to the great American southwest and exploring the culture of Native Americans and their legacy of Native arts, jewelry and crafts.
Instead of referring to the tourist jewelry from the era as “Fred Harvey jewelry”, it has been suggested that “railroad jewelry” would have been more appropriate as Harvey entered into an ingenious contract with the Santa Fe Railroad to provide a series of luxurious new “” along the new rail routes which were quickly crisscrossing the American southwest.
Once Indian jewelers and traders realized the Anglo preference, they began catering to the Anglo tourist's tastes by producing a full line of lightweight jewelry, much of it mass-produced with the help of specialized machinery and commercial sheet silver. There were also numerous silversmiths who insisted on making everything by hand: pounding, cutting, stamping etc. In addition to the consideration of weight, various design elements or symbols were decided upon as standard designs that would decorate most products - the Thunderbird, the arrows (crossed arrows or single arrows), the four-directions symbol, lightning zigzags, arrowheads, etc. It was perceived that these were the symbols that most tourists had in mind as belonging to the Indian realm, and consequently, many Indian jewelers would keep to the use of these symbols instead of adding their own personal touch or incorporating other aesthetics.
Today, Fred Harvey era jewelry is widely collected and sought after. Easy to wear, and generally with a fair amount of ornamentation/stamping, Fred Harvey jewelry is an enjoyable genre of Indian jewelry that takes us back 100 years and can leave us