Steve's Insider Info

This is where we at Turkey Mountain Traders can take the time to give our clients and friends a glimpse into how we look at the art we sell.

Every month, we'll look at one topic in depth, and readers will learn about what technical aspects are important, how we separate the good from the great, and what makes something important culturally, historically and artistically.

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This month...A Timeline of the Wallace Era at Zuni

Steve’s Insider Info is proud to welcome the distinguished Deb Slaney, author of Blue Gem, White Metal, as a guest columnist this month so that we can pick her brain on all things Zuni.

The pieces from the C. G. Wallace collection at the Heard Museum give scholars and collectors a wonderful picture of the state of Zuni silverwork and stonework during the middle of the 20th Century. Through interviews with artists and family members and careful scrutiny of business records, Deb was able to put together a timeline of important events and developments at Zuni during Wallace’s time there. For any serious student of the Zuni and their art, this is an essential tool and we are honored to reprint it here.

Blue Gem, White Metal: Carvings and Jewelry from the C.G. Wallace Collection Timeline

1898 Charles Garrett Wallace is born in North Carolina.

1917 Frederick Webb Hodge begins conducting excavations as Hawikku Pueblo, employing Leekya and Teddy Weahkee as laborers.

1918 C.G. Wallace reaches Gallup and works for Louis Ilfeld in Ramah. Wallace notes mosaic overlay and inlay are being produced at the post. Adair notes Horace Iule and Juan de Dios are casting silver at Zuni.

1919 C.G. Wallace transferred to Zuni Pueblo to work under Charles Kelsey

1920 Wallace applies for a trader’s license submitted by Ilfeld.

1920s Juan de Dios crafts a belt buckle with channel inlay dated by C.G. Wallace to 1925.

1927 Wallace applies for a trader’s license under the C.G. Wallace Trading Store and begins operating in 1928, with a hogan in back to house Navajo silversmiths. Horace Iule is making cluster rings and bracelets.

1928 Adair notes Horace Iule is the first to create a cast silver Knife-wing Bird. Wallace begins using the PALMNESTRY trading code until the 1940s.

1929 Wallace’s brother Robert is clerking for C.G. at the post.

1920s Wallace begins importing coral in the late 1920s – early 1930s, with his first large shipment in 1936.

1930s Until the late 1930s, Wallace stocks American and Mexican silver coinage. Dan Simplicio and Leekya are using branch coral in beads and nugget work in the 1930s-1950s.

1932 Frank Vacit is making channel inlay based on pottery designs.

1935 Walter Nahktewa is working at the Post.

1936 R.L. Wallace opens the Zuni Trading Company across from C.G. Wallace.

1937 Wallace purchases property on Rt. 66 in Albuquerque and opens the De Anza Motor Lodge in 1939.

1938 There is a silver roller in use at the post. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board passes standards for defining genuine handmade Indian jewelry, prompting Wallace to retire the roller until after 1945. Until 1942, Wallace uses the stamps US ZUNI 1, US NAVAJO 1, and US NAVAJO 2 at the Zuni, Sanders, and Cedar Point posts.

1940 Theodore and Lee Edaakie, Teddy Weahkee, Leo Poblano, Dan Simplicio, Virgil Dishta, and Lambert Homer are working at the post. Frank and Pauline Dishta are encouraged to make channel inlay for the post.

1944 John Adair publishes research on Navajo and Pueblo silversmithing

1940s The post shop contains electrical equipment including wet-grinders and buffing wheels and a mud saw. Wallace procures bulk quantities of shell including spiny oyster and red abalone and small amounts of “exotic” materials, primarily through C.N. Cotton and a source in California. Large chunks of soft, carveable turquoise like that used by Leekya and Teddy Weahkee become harder to acquire.

1944-46 FICA=BOLE0 trading code is used at Zuni, after 1946, used for textiles at Cedar Point Trading Post.

1947 KRAFTSZUNI trading code is used until 1963.

1950 Wallace acquires a 9.5 pound Number 8 nugget. Annie Gasper begins making channel inlay for the post.

1950s Leonard Martza works at the post and the Gallup store, and at the De Anza in the 1960s, learning how to make and repair jewelry. Ellen Quandelacy is making petit point jewelry at Wallace’s request.

1954 Wallace receives a quit-claim deed to the Last Chance No. 1 and Gem No. 2 mines in Cochise Co., Arizona.

1958 Wallace sells the Zuni post to Richard Vander Wagen

1975 C.G. Wallace donates 500+ examples from the C.G. Wallace Collection to The Heard Museum. The remainder is auctioned through Sotheby Parke Bernet in Phoenix.

1982 Lovena Ohl holds an exhibit and sale of the remaining collection in Scottsdale.


Source: Deborah C. Slaney, Blue Gem, White Metal: Carvings and Jewelry from the C.G. Wallace Collection. The Heard Museum, 1998.