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I found a pair of earrings by Della Casa Appa and realized few people are aware of her importance, especially when competing sellers strive to disparage the wonderful finds of others. So I thought it would be good to talk about Della Casa Appa, who was perhaps the first important woman silversmith in Zuni history. She was producing beautiful work in the mid-1920s, so started well before that. Because women weren't supposed to be doing this work she brought her work to C. G. Wallace secretly, late in the nights. You can see a picture of one of her squash blossom necklaces from the C. G. Wallace Sotheby's Auction Catalogue. That necklace sold for $1900 in the 1975 auction and adjustment for inflation would bring the price to $7832.67 in 2011. The importance of the artist would bring the price even higher now. She was one of the artists CG Wallace collected and was well represented in that catalog. If you look closely at the squash blossoms on the catalog necklace (and I included it in my listing of the earrings), particularly clear in the middle ones, you can see they are identical to these earrings in their design and the shape of the stones, the size and shape of the squash blossoms, and also the placement of the raindrops. She made a lot of petite point work early on, but also was versatile like so many of those early smiths. She did work with larger stones later on, but they were always beautifully finished. She made a lot of the early pins that were composed of radiating teardrops surrounding a big coin. There are such examples of her work in the CG Wallace catalog. She was important in the general trend early on for very elaborate petite point earrings, with several layers of falls and fringes. She was so famous that several early Zuni painters---and I think Jimmy Abeita also, later on---painted portraits of her. She was a very fine silversmith, a very fine woman of dignity.
The earrings I am offering date from the mid to late 1920s and they were converted, but it looks as though, since they were dangles on screw backs originally, that they were simply moved, dangle, chain and all, to posts. So you can't see evidence of the conversion. The earrings are done in the petit point style with stones set in serrated bezel settings and they have decorative hand applied and hand made raindrops and a squash blossom form at their base. The stones are all tear drop in shape and all the same size. There is one central stone with a hand applied wire framing it and seven stones surrounding the central stone on each earring, so eight stones on each earring. Then there are raindrops applied decoratively and the squash blossom at the center. The color of the turquoise is a lovely soft color, greened with age.
These earrings were identified as by Casa Della Appa by a friend of mine who is a genuine expert and was familiar with her work. I later found the squash blossom necklace in the C.G. Wallace catalog that substantiates the identification. You may think the design is common but it is not; the details were specific to Casa Della Appa's work. There are similar ones by more modern artists and some unscrupulous sellers will tell you they are the same, but they are not the same.
The earrings have a delicacy of form. The primary portion measures about 7/8" high and 15/16" wide. If one includes the chain and the ball posts, they hang about 1-1/4" long. On me they are a perfect hanging length and shape and weight and I'm starting to regret selling them. They are so very flattering and beautiful when worn. They are not marked for silver content or signature which is consistent with the time in which they were made. The weight is light, at 5.3 grams for the pair, so they are easy on the ears.
These are highly collectable, finely detailed earrings. They're a delight to wear, even daily, as a signature piece, and can be a great addition to your collection. There can't be a better present, made by one of the most important early female silversmiths. So I commend her to your attention. I pulled the listing because I wear the earrings so much but it will come back before long:
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