We received the following amazing email in response to a beautiful inlay watch band we have for sale here… read on to see how a collector appears to have out-foxed the masters!
I’m writing about this “Pawn Collection – Lillian Fernando – Fish Scale Inlay Watch band $515” for sale on your website (I have borrowed your two photos below, for clarity.)
I agree with you that it’s clearly Zuni, and that Barton Wright’s attribution of this FL hallmark to a Navajo artist (Lillian Fernando) seems not to fit. I have a theory that your impressive watch band was actually made by Francis Leekya, brother to Robert Leekya, and son of Leekya Deyuse, and here’s why.
I own two very similar Zuni fish scale turquoise inlay watch bands, purchased at different times from different sellers. My two bands are identical to each other, except for the hallmark. My first band has the bird head hallmark widely recognized as that of Francis Leekya (drawing on page 102, “Hallmarks of the Southwest” by Barton Wright, Hardcover, Schiffer Pub Ltd, and also on various sites on the web as taken from Wright’s book.)
My second band has the same nested FL hallmark stamped on your ‘Lillian Fernando’ band. As you can see in my photos below, the silver stampwork leaves on my two bands are an excellent match to those on yours, and the FL hallmark on my band matches yours also.
Another online example of a similar style of fish scale turquoise inlay by Francis Leekya can be seen in this bolo, from Brown’s Trading. They attribute this unsigned piece to Francis because of his name as exhibitor on the accompanying award ribbon from the Gallup Ceremonial.
And finally, our nested FL stamp resembles those used by two brothers of Francis: Robert (and Bernice) Leekya, and Roger Leekya. In each of these, the letter L is large, and the other letters are smaller and nested.
The above photo for Robert and Bernice Leekya’s mark is from your site. The photo of the hallmark for Roger Leekya is from a recently completed eBay auction for an inlaid ring, from seller http://www.erickbegay.com/.
So far, I can’t find confirmation in a book that this nested FL stamp is a secondary hallmark used by Francis Leekya. But you can see why I can’t believe that two different artists (Zuni Francis Leekya, and Navajo Lillian Fernando) each made one of my two identical watch bands, shown above.
Because of the strength of the well-known Francis Leekya bird head mark, and because the nested FL mark is so similar to those used by Leekya siblings, my best guess is that all three of these turquoise inlay watch bands (mine and yours) were made by Francis Leekya. I’m guessing this nested FL mark is perhaps incorrectly attributed to Lillian Fernando in the Barton Wright book… or, should at least also be attributed to Francis Leekya as well, as a secondary hallmark.
When you have time, I’d love to know what you think. I enjoy this type of detective work research, but you folks are the experts!
Thanks for your terrific website. It’s a wonderful source of information for collectors, and it’s been very helpful to me as I continue to learn and collect.
Wow, thanks Sheri! I believe your analysis is correct.