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December 06, 2020 1 min read

Outside the Box

Sometimes treasure boxes hold treasure. In this case, the boxesare the treasure.

Varying in size, shape, and style, these ornate trinket chests are most often attributed to Navajo artisans (such as Ben Begaye, Suzie James, and Ray Adakai, to name a few) who craft the sterling silver cases entirely by hand, right down to the hinges and clasps. Depending on the artist, the faces generally feature stamp work, bump-out designs, or silver applique, and cabochons of some sort, most commonly turquoise.

Over the years, these treasure boxes have served a myriad of purposes, and they’ve come to be coveted, collectible objets d’art and family heirlooms. History has it that the smaller square boxes were originally intended for storing stamps to keep them flat and free from tear (although virtually useless against humidity). Some of the larger boxes served as elegant cigarette cases, some as pill boxes or coin carriers, and some of the smaller ones have even been gifted to young children who keep their lost teeth in them until the tooth fairy visits. Some now house prized pieces of jewelry and some are simply used as unique bits of Southwestern décor.

Composed of the same materials and crafted with the same dedication and skill, these treasure chests essentially elevate an everyday item to ornamental baubles virtually on par with jewelry, which seems perfectly on-brand for the ever-extravagant MIllicent Rogers. After all, making the ordinary extraordinary was kind of herthing.

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