Circa 1885, First Phase Six (6) Concho Belt with Tongued Buckle


Ingot silver, copper and leather.  799 grams, 25.69 troy ounces.  Each 4" length X 3 1/2" width.  Belt measures 2 7/8" length X 2 1/4" width


Silver ingot is hammer forged and each element is domed freeform by planishing into a wooden depression.  Diamond center forms and other ornamental work were accomplished with a chisel and hand-carved stamps.  The scalloped edge is filed and punch perforated.  Like methods were used to create the open center domed buckle with more foliate ornamentation.  Flattened copper wire straps were soldered to the conchos providing a means of fastening them to a leather harness strap.


This stunning old beauty has history !  Circa 1885, this closed center First Phase transition  concho belt was acquired by the Bonnell family from Joseph Ernst as a gift,  when John and Virginia Bonnell opened the White Hogan in 1945 on the Navajo Reservation.  "Joe" Ernest worked with the Fred Harvey Company, managing and buying for the Grand Canyon location. He had also  had been collecting on his own for many years, purchasing  from Indian artists and their families, both new and old items.  


This particular belt had been part of the Harvey’s Company’s vast collection.  Purchased originally in the late 19th century by the company, it was one of the star display treasures featured with the Grand Canyon attraction El Tovar opened in 1905.


We are respectfully presenting this 5 concho belt with buckle, just as it has been kept by Jon Bonnell, John and Virginia’s son,  and its previous owners.  John Bonnell's handwritten labels are still where he put them on the back of the buckle for display at the White Hogan until its closure in 2006. 


The leather has never been replaced behind the six conchos.  Harness leather originally cut for the belt strap had been modified for a specific wearer at one time and a snap was installed for convenience.  The top and last hole of the belt strap have been gone for at least 85 years.  Presentation in as pure an original condition as found is our policy regarding an item of such historical provenance and value.


Note photograph taken by Ben Wittick between 1883 and 1885 showing Slender Maker of Silver seated.  To his right is a Spanish influenced headstall with round, closed conchos.  In his hands, full length across his lap is a magnificent, closed concho, First Phase belt.  Photograph was taken from page 47 of Steven Curtis’ book, Navajo Silversmith.


Artwork details


Navajo/ Diné



Bonnell estate


To wear, leather belt must be replaced

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