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  • Sam Patania

Vintage Patania Jewelry as of March 2019


This is my first catalog of the vintage pieces I currently have in my studio. These pieces come from various sources and I never know what or when I am going to get them. Some of these pieces are for collectors of Patania art, the ones with the personal hallmarks of Frank Sr. and Frank Jr. But most pieces that were made in the Thunderbird Shop (the store opened by Frank Sr, on the plaza in Santa Fe, NM in 1927 and run continuously by the Patania Family until 1999). These pieces were made by the uniquely qualified silversmiths employed by the Patania family.


These pieces are known as Thunderbird Style to distinguish them from the art work of Frank Sr and Frank Jr. This delightful fish pin in sterling silver has a turquoise eye and measures 3 inches by just under one inch from the top of his dorsal to the bottom of his pectoral fin. This piece has the Thunderbird Shop hallmarks and was designed by Frank Patania Sr. It dates to the mid 1950s to early 1960s. Fish Pin $450


This simple coral ring is finger size 3 and can be sized to fit you for an additional $65. It has a beautiful split shank under the overlay oval top which perfectly frames the long narrow coral. The coral used in the pieces of this period were purchased by Frank Sr in Torre del Greco in Italy in the mid 1950s. This was the one and only time Frank visited his home country after leaving as a child refugee in 1910. The coral he purchased lasted for decades and I have just a little bit of it left. I have made a pledge to a conservation group that I will not buy any more coral but, I will use up the family stock. Once family stock is gone I will no longer use coral in my work. C 1975, $450 measures 1 ¼ by ¾ inch (32 X 18 mm) This coral has a line which goes along the long axis of the stone which appears as a crack. This shows up when looking at it in one direction so if it is a crack and not a growth line then I would be surprised. It has a slight color difference on either side of this line which supports my idea that is it not a crack although the line can be felt with your fingernail. But, this line is what makes it a lesser price. Provenance is very important to me as well as collectors and when I receive a piece from the family of the original purchaser I take pains to gather any provenance they can provide. This includes any stories of the original buyer wearing it or if it was given as a gift to them and by whom. Any photographs of the person wearing it are also gathered. In this way the provenance can accrue and the stories do not get lost. While this may seem frivolous in the short term but many of these pieces are at least 70 years old and due to the interest in Patania jewelry by museums and collectors becomes important. When I receive a piece of Vintage jewelry I take great care to clean it in a way which leaves the patina that only aging can give.


This next necklace I have to offer was so tarnished that I had to polish it more than I normally would. It almost looks new and I know from it’s provenance that it was worn well and taken very good care of. This necklace has premium coral in it, deep red but not ox blood. The luster this coral has is a joy. The largest piece measures ¾ of an inch by ½ inch (18 mm X 12 mm). The necklace sections and coral themselves graduate with the smallest coral measuring ½ inch by ¼ inch (12 mm X 6 mm) This necklace has my grandfather’s personal cartouche hallmark as well as the Thunderbird and sterling.


This detail photograph shows the hallmarks. This necklace has 9 sections with coral and measures 15 inches in wearable length. I can add length by simply adding extension chain to whatever length you would like. Of course, I can keep it as original as possible by restringing it using tube beads and 4 mm round beads for $24.8 per inch for materials and $65 for restringing. None of the stones are cracked or chipped and the silver is very scratch free. I would rate this piece as like new condition! Made in the mid to late 1950s by Frank Patania Sr. $5,600


Vintage Patania jewelry set with coral usually sell quickly for me so please let me know quickly if you are interested in this necklace.


This pin is a perfect example of the design I chose to present to the Smithsonian to represent the body of Frank Sr’s work. The piece in the Smithsonian is a cuff bracelet in his Floral Spray design as is this pin. This brooch’s provenance is that it was given to Frank Sr and his wife Aurora’s niece as a gift. She was given many pieces of his jewelry as she grew up and now, she is in her 80s and wants it to go to someone who would appreciate not only the pin but the story behind it. It has a hidden hook visible in this photo at the bottom of the piece which allows it to be worn on a chain. It measures 4 inches by 2 ¼ (100 X 32 mm) This brooch was made by my grandfather but hallmarked in the Thunderbird Style. He would make these pieces by having his silversmiths make most of the parts which he would then assemble into the finished piece. Frank Sr. would make design elements such as the leaves and shape of the finished brooch. This piece is made up of more than 172 separate handmade pieces! This brooch is selling for $4,800. This brooch is straight from the romantic Golden Age of Santa Fe. Artists like Georgia O’Keefe, poet Witter Bynner and scientists such as Fermi would all visit my grandfather’s shop which was a center of social Santa Fe right on the plaza across from La Fonda Hotel. Fermi came to talk Italian with my grandfather who rarely spoke his country’s language even to his wife Aurora so eager was he to be American. Fermi had no one else to speak his language with while working in Los Alamos with Oppenheimer who was also a visitor. Igor Stravinsky was a family friend who helped bring the Santa Fe Opera to national prominence. If you want to wear this brooch as a pendant, I would suggest one of my Santa Fe sterling chains which can be made for you.

The last pieces I have are a flower set of earrings and ring.


The ring is finger size 9 and can be sized to fit you for an additional $65. It measures 1 ½ inches in diameter (38 mm) The ring shank is made of leaf elements which continue the design around your finger. The ring has 7 high domed gorgeous Persian turquoise, none of which are cracked. It has a very nice weight, you will feel like an Italian princess while wearing this ring and earring set. The earrings measure 1 ¼ inch and have 7 stones each. These are a Nevada turquoise from the Burnham mine.


I have modified these earrings which originally were clips to have a post and the original clips (French back) for maximum comfort. The clips don’t have to be so tight because the post is also supporting the earrings. This photograph of the back of one earring the ring shows the hallmarks. The earrings have the coveted cartouche hallmark while the earrings show Thunderbird hallmarks on a piece only Frank Sr would make. I don’t want to indicate that the use of the hallmarks was anything but confusing and unclear in the 1950s. This was a thriving time for my grandfather’s career. The war was over, many of his silversmiths came back as veterans and money was being spent on his art work. Nobody knew that the legacy would go on past 2 generations, so hallmarking was not as important as it has become. I am often called on to identify whose work is whose and I refer to my dad as much as possible but with his failing eyes it largely rests with me. Please, if ever you have questions, I am happy to answer questions about my family’s jewelry and history. If you ever have occasion to sell any Patania jewelry pieces, I offer a generous consignment deal.

#SantaFe #Tucson #Patania #VIntage #collector #silver #coralturquoise

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