Fred Harvey Era jewelry was produced between 1900-1945. The idea developed by taking Native North American jewelry and streamlining it to be more delicate, and lighter for everyday use. Fred Harvey Era jewelry became popular keepsakes for tourists along the Sant Fe Railway routes. As such, symbols of the “Wild West” were incorporated into the design.
About Fred Harvey
Fred Harvey was an English-born, American-based entrepreneur. Through his partnership with Santa Fe Railroads, he developed lodging and restaurants for tourists stopping at various destinations along the railway routes in the American Southwest. Known as Harvey Houses, by 1899, there were 17 locations. The Fred Harvey Company even developed the menus for food service on the train. His goal was to offer an authentic experience, with the comfort that North American tourists had come to expect.
With Harvey’s death in 1901, his sons took over the family business.
The Expansion of The Fred Harvey Company
As more people purchased automobiles, train travel declined. The Fred Harvey Company searched for newer ways to make profits. Native American arts and crafts were sold at various Harvey House locations, leading to the creation of Fred Harvey Era jewelry.
Fred Harvey Company and Jewelry Inspiration
The Fred Harvey Company also guided Native American jewelry artists to make jewelry to suit the needs of the North American traveler. While Native American jewelry was initially used as ceremonial pieces, tourists who purchased these designs considered them too heavy for everyday use.
Frank Harvey Era jewelry looked like traditional Native American jewelry but was modernized to be more delicate, and lightweight in design. Harvey also asks the artisans to make pieces that would evoke memories of the Wild West by using symbols. These symbols were not part of authentic Native American jewelry. While much of Frank Harvey Era jewelry was handmade, later it was made by machine for mass production. Heavy silver traditionally used in Native American jewelry was replaced with thinner silver and nickel.
What is Native American Jewelry?
Native American jewelry was and still is produced by Native American people including the Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, Santo Domingo, Tewa, Acoma, and Zuni. These pieces are usually designed with blue and green turquoise and set in sterling silver. Other semi-precious stones and even precious stones are also incorporated into these designs. Coral and shells are also common.
Navajo jewelry has an international reputation for beautiful turquoise and silver combinations. The Zuni have a unique style. Working with small hand-cut stones they craft intricate pieces using needlepoint, petit point, and cluster work techniques. Jewelry made by the Santo Domingo people features creatively eye-catching mosaics and heishe necklaces.
How to Categorize Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
Frank Harvey Era is not categorized as authentic Native American jewelry, but more as southwestern jewelry designed in the Native American style. Altering the style of the jewelry crafted and adding southwestern symbols changed traditional Native American methods. You will also hear Frank Harvey Era jewelry called “railroad jewelry” as it was sold along the railroad line.
Of course, later Frank Harvey Era jewelry was machine-made. This made it easier to produce jewelry in mass quantities while keeping prices lower for middle-class tourists.
Motifs in Frank Harvey Jewelry
- Single arrows
- Crossed arrows
- Four direction symbols
- Lightening zig zags
- Dogs in elongated forms
- Buffalo Nickels
- Native Americans
- Indian Chiefs in full headdresses
- Kachina, the spiritual-religious figure
- Sunburst patterns borrowed from Native American culture
- Floral motifs
Materials Used in Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
- Sterling silver
- Tiger eye
- Dragon’s breath stone
- Black jet
- Petrified wood
- Mother of pearl
- Spiny oyster shell
- Red abalone shell
- Art glass
What is Turquoise?
Turquoise is a blue or slightly green stone, with a veining of brown or black. It is formed within the earth’s crust when copper and aluminum are combined.
Turquoise is found in arid landscapes including in Iran, Egypt, Chile, and Mexico. Turquoise is also found in Arizona and New Mexico, which is why Frank Harvey Era jewelry made perfect keepsakes for travelers via the Santa Fe Railroads.
Skystone is how Native Americans refer to turquoise. Native Americans, Mesoamericans, and the Inca all mined turquoise in ancient times. Archeologists have found beads that the Hohokam and Anazasi tribes made as early as 200 BCE.
Sterling Silver and Other Metals in Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
The Spanish introduced the Native Americans of the southwest to the art of silversmithing. This technique was later captured in Frank Harvey Era jewelry.
To make silver stronger, it is mixed with other alloys including copper and zinc. Sterling silver by North American standards must contain 92.5 percent silver. To identify sterling silver pieces, look for the words “sterling”, “sterling silver” or “.925” stamped into the work.
Remember, many later pieces of Frank Harvey Era jewelry were not made of sterling silver but constructed from silverplate, nickel, and copper.
Handmade vs Machine-Made Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
Frank Harvey Era machine-made jewelry was crafted by Native American artisans creating southwestern-style jewelry. Blocks of sterling silver were hand-cut and hammered, then filed, stamped, and polished. Conversely, Frank Harvey Era jewelry that was machine made, used commercial sheet silver, as well as machine-drawn silver rods.
Stone Designs Borrowed from Native American Jewelry
- Single stone
- Arranged cluster
- Random cluster
Designs for placements of stones in pieces created by Frank Harvey Era jewelry were inspired by Native American jewelry. The single stone design features a large central stone dominating the work, while the multi-stone involves three to five stones. Clusters are stones arranged in groups. These clusters can be arranged into patterns or randomly placed for a more contemporary feel.
Inlay techniques have always been popular in Native American jewelry. Of course, Frank Harvey Era jewelry wisely offered the same. An inlay is developed by cutting flat stones and piecing them together to form a pattern.
Channel inlay features channels that are first crafted in silver or other metals. Then the stones are cut and inserted to fit. Stone on stone inlay is held together with epoxy glue, whereas mosaic inlay uses an outline of metal to keep the stones in place.
Buying Vintage Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
You’ll find plenty of vintage Frank Harvey Era Jewelry available on eBay and Etsy. Here is a sample of what you will find.
Clip-on earrings are often large and circular, left without stone adornment, but rather with intricate designs in the metal. Screw-back designed earrings offer pretty florals and sunbursts with center stones.
Dangle earrings include delicate figures such as Native Americans, or Kachina with snakes. Look for drop earrings in heavier styles usually in repetitive shapes grouped in three. Think teardrops or ovals with turquoise centers.
You will also find some unique art glass adapted into these Native American-inspired designs. Look for a parade of colors all integrated into the glass.
Cuff bracelets were popular creations in Frank Harvey Era jewelry. The single stone theme utilized one large central stone, with decorative borders. Others are left plain with more geometric shapes containing horizontal lines decorated with large rounds.
Link bracelets are more decorative featuring round floral pieces often with stone centers, linked together. You will also find some art glass link bracelets, with matching earrings.
The most coveted bracelet of all Frank Harvey Era jewelry is the charm bracelet. Tiny charms include arrows, crossed arrows, covered wagons, horses, and Kachina.
Flower pendants sport popular turquoise or other semi-precious stones. Other stone pendants are crafted into simple oval designs. Some pendants feature multiple southwestern motifs grouped. Examples include saddles with ropes, or lucky horseshoes, with a horse’s head peeking through, all with a small turquoise stone incorporated.
Choker-style necklaces feature round or oval polished turquoise set on sterling silver or other metals, with decorative borders.
Roadrunners make for fun pins, all on the run, feet racing with tail feathers stretched out. These are generally left unadorned, except for tiny stone eyes. In many cases, you’ll find matching dangle earrings. Other popular pins include dogs or horses.
Frank Harvey Era single stone designs were the most prominent rings sold. All stones are bordered with silver, usually in the form of small beads. There are also simply thick bands stamped with popular southwestern symbols.
Satellite rings in sterling silver have a large central design and smaller replicas of either side. Beautiful online versions of these rings available online include domed balls. These Frank Harvey Era rings form an elongated shape stretching along the ring-encased finger.
How to Identify Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
The easiest way to identify Frank Harvey Era jewelry is by the construction, as well as the materials used, and the techniques. Some are marked with handwriting that says, “by Frank Harvey”, with the words Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and New Mexico. Others will have the names of the producers of Frank Harvey Era jewelry in capital letters.
Producers of Frank Harvey Era Jewelry
- Silver Arrow
- Bell Trading
- HH Temmen Co
Collecting Frank Harvey Era jewelry is a fun way to commemorate the spirit of the Old West.