Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dead Pawn: My Pet Peeve

One of the things that annoys me greatly is when I see jewelry dealers offering Native American jewelry as "Old Pawn" or "Dead Pawn" when they really do not understand what it is. I see this practice everyday; tourist grade jewelry listed as pawn. Dead pawn is jewelry that was owned by an Indian, worn by an Indian and pawned by an Indian. Indians use the pawn shop as storage, just as we would use a safe deposit box, except they take money out against the jewelry. They do not leave the jewelry there for the customary 30 days, but they leave it there all of the time except when they take it out to wear for a special occasion. Indian pawn can be at the pawn shop 10, even 20 years. It is basically for safe keeping.
Jewelry that Indians make for themselves and other Indians is the cream of the crop. Heavy and done in a masterful way. It is not the lightweight jewelry that was made to be sold to tourists. There is a huge difference. I am very careful when I use the word pawn. It is best to have the actual pawn ticket from the reservation with the item to prove where it came from, but that is not always possible.
So beware when you are buying "old pawn" and most of the time, don't believe it. Buy from a seller that is knowledgable if authenticity is important to you.
And if you are a seller that is loosely using this as a keyword search, know that sophisticated buyers know the difference and using this term only makes you look less knowledgable. Here is a photo of a real "Dead Pawn" piece, a Naja Necklace. It is early and heavy. It does not have a pawn ticket, but there is no question as to it's authenticity as the real thing: Old Pawn.

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