Vintage Hand Forged Copper Dipper

26153-ladle.jpg

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Unknown Maker
  • Category: Other Items
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Copper
  • Size: 16” long;
    Bowl: 4” diameter,1-⅛” deep
  • Item # 26153
  • Price: $450.00

Before there was a Superstore on the Navajo Reservation, or before there was the Internet, the Diné had to go to the trading post to buy items they needed for daily living if they could not make those items for themselves. Cooking utensils could be purchased for a price at the post, but if there was a talented blacksmith or silversmith in the family, the utensils could be handmade. While smiths used silver for decorative purposes, copper was often used to make large ladles and spoons. Copper was sturdy, and could withstand heat. Silversmiths often used small copper ladles with spouts for melting silver. This flat bottomed dipper is too large for melting silver, and it has no spout.

A versatile smith used heavy-gauge copper to hand forge this flat-bottomed dipper. The handle was stamped with a series of crescent stamps and dots. The edges have small stamped areas that compliment the swirling motifs in the center of the handle. Where the handle is connected to the bowl, the artist placed a pyramid of small dots.

Careful examination of the bowl and handle shows small deposits of grease. It is most likely this dipper was used as a scoop for lard.  Inside the hogan, or outside under a ramada, a Diné cook would melt a large kettle of lard to make frybread. As more lard was needed, it could be scooped out of the lard tin and added to the kettle. Since aluminum utensils are not as sturdy as handmade copper ones, a heavy copper dipper that could withstand lots of heat would be preferable to anything that could be purchased. Because a really hot fire is necessary for good, crispy frybread, the cook using this ladle could successfully make some prize winning bread.

It is hard to date this dipper, but the style of the bowl and the stampwork indicate that it was made in the early 20th century.

Condition: The Vintage Hand Forged Copper Dipper is in very good condition.

Provenance: From a Santa Fe Collector

Recommended Reading: Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths by John Adair

Relative Links: Southwest CollectiblesNavajo Nation

Close up view of the handle designs.
Unknown Maker
  • Category: Other Items
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Copper
  • Size: 16” long;
    Bowl: 4” diameter,1-⅛” deep
  • Item # 26153
  • Price: $450.00

26153-ladle.jpg26153-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.