Famous San Ildefonso potter and the woman responsible for the renaissance of Pueblo pottery, Maria Martinez, used seven different signatures at various points in her career. Many of our customers have expressed interest in knowing how the signatures relate to the time period in which a pot was made. To explain, we have borrowed excerpts from the book,“The Legacy of Maria Poveka Martinez,” by Richard Spivey.
Each piece of pottery has a signature that identifies a time period when it was created. Knowing the parameters of
each period helps us to identify not only each piece’s authenticity, but a range of value as well. Certain signatures
are more rare than others, which increases the pottery’s value. We can be certain that only the fired-in signatures are
legitimate (those signatures that were pressed into the bottom of the pot before the vessel was fired). There are examples of Maria’s pottery without a signed bottom, but authenticating such a piece is highly speculative.
Following are the signatures from various time periods, with a brief description. Each stated period provides a general idea of when each signature was initiated.
• 1910-1920: “Poh’ve’ka”- This was Maria’s Indian name. Very few examples of this signature exist.
• 1923: “Marie”- The name “Marie” was used instead of “Maria” because it was decided it would be more familiar to the non-Indian public.
• 1925: “Marie & Julian – Julian was Maria’s husband and did most of the design work on the pottery.
• 1943: “Marie & Santana” – Santana was Maria’s daughter-in-law, married to Maria’s son Adam.
• 1954: “Maria & Santana” – She began to use “Maria,” her true name, mainly because of the publication of the book by Alice Marriott, “Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso.”
• 1955: “Maria Poveka” – A signature used during the transition from the “Marie & Santana” period to the “Maria/Popovi” period.
• 1956: “Maria/Popovi” – Popovi was Maria’s son. Maria and Popovi worked only a few short years together, making this the most valuable signature.