**WHAT IS DEAD PAWN AND WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT IT?**
This is our FAQ page. We try to put relevant information and answer some of the frequent questions we've been asked. If you have a question and it's not addressed here, please feel free to email us and ask...
"Dead Pawn" refers to items, including jewelry, that have been brought to a pawnbroker to use as collateral for a cash loan. Pawn has long been a way of life for the Native American people, who will pawn personal items of value to get money for food, gas for their cars, and the many other needs of daily living that they do not have the cash for.
Many pawn shops near reservations take these Native valuables and give cash loans, holding the items until the person who pawned them comes back and repays the loan to redeem their possessions. These pawn shops are reputable businesses, and regulated by state laws.
If an item that has been pawned is not reclaimed after an agreed period of time it is considered "Dead Pawn." At that point the item becomes the property of the pawn shop and the shop can offer it for sale in order to recoup their cash loss.
Most pawn is redeemed...about 5 to 15 percent is not, and will become available to buyers in the general marketplace after the allotted loan time passes. Some pawn is very collectible because of it's history, or it's quality. Most is just nice jewelry. (or pottery, baskets, saddles, VHS tapes, CD's, electronics, the list goes on.)
There are also some silversmiths, who, when faced with a cash crisis, will grab what pieces they have made for sale and pawn them for quick cash. While nice pieces, there is nothing particularly special about them, and they're sold at very reasonable prices if not redeemed.
With pawn, you might never know who made it, as the privacy laws (are supposed to) prevent the pawn shop from giving out personal information about the person who pawned it. The "pawn ticket", which usually has stock numbers and personal information written on it, is rarely included with the piece when you purchase it.
Beware of resellers who sell items with a pawn ticket intact...it's very possible they printed that ticket up themselves, and the ticket is not the original.
**A WORD ABOUT VINTAGE NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY**
Most vintage Native jewelry is unsigned and does not have a silver content stamp. Many vintage items were made for the tourist trade of the early 1900's thru the 1940's, when people traveled across country by train. These trains would stop at specific places where the passengers could get out and "see the sights" for a short period of time. And there was always a Trading Post (now known as a gift shop) where they could watch native silversmiths work, and purchase "real indian jewelry" to take home as souvenirs. It was a fascinating time in our country's history and if you are interested in learning more about it, google search the name Fred Harvey. It will return hundreds of entries about this era.
Most vintage pieces will show wear...that's natural considering the age of the item...and we try to point out any irregularities or flaws. Many stones have natural inclusions (pitting and crevices and the like) that are not flaws in the stone...but made by the greatest artist of all...mother nature.
Some of these items are one of a kind pieces custom made for someone in particular at some time, and eventually made their way to estate sales and auctions. Eddie and I are always on the lookout for those pieces as they can be quite beautiful and unique. If you're into Vintage...have a look in our Vintage area.
**WHAT'S A ZUNI FETISH?**
The concept of Zuni fetishes is fascinating...there is much written about them, and understanding what they represent in Zuni life is probably a longtime learning experience. It's interesting reading. I will have a page up on this site soon with a little more of a detailed explanation. If you want to find out more yourself, google search zuni fetishes. There's an amazing amount of information on the web about them.
Basically, there are six cardinal guardian fetishes which are symbolic of the six directions. The first is a mountain lion which represents the North. The South belongs to the badger, the West to the bear, while the East goes to the wolf. Additionally, the mole guards the inner earth, while the eagle protects the heavenly regions.
It would take pages to explain all of the things fetishes represent in Zuni and indeed all Native American tribes. I'll have a few links up soon on the links page...