This remarkably rare piece is a prototype purse (c. 1960) from revolutionary fashion designer Lloyd Kiva New. This piece, acquired from a private collection in Arizona, is a rich red leather pouch purse with a carved sterling silver handle and removable silver medallion. Pieces from this limited line, a collaboration with silversmith Kenneth Begay, are highly collectible and prototypes are even more so.
George Kee (?-1980; Navajo). Active 1940s-1980. Stampwork. Brother of Allen and Ivan Kee and father of Anthony Kee. Cousin of Kenneth Begay. Worked at the White Hogan and the Arizona Turquoise & Silver Company.
Marks: G K; G K (plus the White Hogan symbol and HAND MADE STERLING)
Lloyd Kiva New - Lloyd Henri Kiva New (Cherokee, 1916-2002) was a pioneer of modern Native American fashion design and a cofounder of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1945 he opened a fashion boutique in the Arizona Craftsmen Court in Scottsdale, Arizona. His label, named Kiva, first focused on leather purses, belts, and hats. In 1948, he expanded to a full clothing line. He collaborated with major Native American artists including Manfred Susunkewa (Hopi), Charles Loloma (Hopi), and Andrew Van Tsinhajinnie (Navajo). His boutique flourished through the 1940s and 1950s.
Kiva designs sold to Neiman Marcus.
Kenneth Begay (1913 or 1914-1977; Navajo). Active 1940s-1977. Jewelry, accessories, flatware and holloware; classic designs; silver, wood; chisel work; usually single stones, when used. Although a blacksmith early in his career, he also worked as a silversmith at the Grand Canyon. Kenneth Begay eventually became a master artisan, often referred to as the father of modern Navajo jewelry. He was a product of the silversmith program at the Fort Wingate School in the late 1930s, along with colleague Lee Yazzie. One of his teachers at the school was Fred Peshlakai. In the 1930s Begay worked in Flagstaff for Babbitts Indian Shop. He was a partner in the White Hogan craft shop in Scottsdale, AZ, where he went to work in 1946. For several years in the early 1960s, Begay ran the Navajo Arts and Crafts store in Cameron, AX. He also taught silver-smithing at the Navajo Community College from 1968 to the mid 1970s. His career spanned 35 years, according to his son Harvey. In 1951 or 1952, Begay began marking hissilver with the initials KB and while working at the White Hogan, with the stamp of a small hogan. Multiple award winner.
Marks:K B; K B (embossed, inside a plain or fringed square; usually accompanied by the shop mark of the White Hogan). Tertiary marks may be sterling, handmade, or Sterling Handmade Original Design (script)Prototype Canvas Purse with Removable Silver Medallion, ca. 1960