Collection: Lee and Mary Weebothee Zuni Jewelry

Lee and Mary Weebothee are generally considered to be among the top Native American silversmiths and lapidary artists to have come out of Zuni. Their work spanned 4 decades... from hand file work in the 1940's and 1950's (which was before electricity arrived in Zuni) to their later jewelry which was made with the use of power tools. It is this early, handmade Weebothee jewelry that is their finest, their most collectible and their most valuable. As a matter of fact, sometimes the differences in quality between early Weebothee signed jewelry and later is so striking that it's hard to believe it was made by the same people. Is that a result of old age or was their hallmark used by other family members to capitalize on Weebothee's fame? That practice, in general, is not unheard of. In the early days (pre-1970) the Weebothee's were favorites of legendary American Indian trader, CG Wallace. Wallace supplied the Weebothee's and other top Zuni silversmiths with Swiss watchmaker files. It was the use of these fine tools that elevated the work of every silversmith who used them. These files helped make the Zuni Pueblo a center for extraordinary Native American Jewelry. More to the point, the use of Swiss watchmaker files allowed the Weebothee's (who surely had the talent, patience and vision) to live up to their potential and create this magnificent Coral jewelry ensemble. It should be noted, most early Native American jewelry was made with coin silver. United States coin silver is 90% silver and 10% copper. That ratio produces a unique, beautiful patina. Native American jewelry made after the 1950's and 60's was usually made using commercially manufactured sheet silver. Sheet silver has a different alloy compostiton and produces a different patina as it ages

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