The three most common styles of the highly collectible blankets are: Navajo wearing blankets, Pendleton trade blankets, and Beacon cotton blankets.


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Wrapped in History: Native American Blankets
Unfurl an intricate weave of cultures and customs
 The three most common styles of the highly collectible blankets are: Navajo wearing blankets, Pendleton trade blankets, and Beacon cotton blankets.

Handmade by Navajo women on upright looms, Navajo blankets can take a year to complete. Pieces from the Classic Period (1850-1875), woven for personal use, made skilful use of available dyes and sheep's wool. A striped chief's blanket from this era is worth in the six figures.

Navajo blanket c. 1868

After the Navajo were sent to a reservation, the Transitional Period (1875-1890) saw yarns supplied by traders, especially brightly-colored yarns from Germantown, Pennsylvania. Many of these pieces were produced for sale (originally $5.00-$20.00).

 Navajo weavings after 1890, produced primarily for the tourist trade, vary significantly in quality some current weavers are highly sought after.

Around 1896, Pendleton Woolen Mills began making machine-made wool blankets with Indian designs, produced for sale to traders on reservations.

Pendleton blanket with fringe c. 1920s

 These brightly colored blankets, prized by both Native Americans and Anglos, became known as trade blankets. Trade blankets are categorized as "shawls" (with fringe, for women) or "blankets" (without fringe, for men).

From 1910 through the 1950s, the Beacon Blanket Company of Massachusetts produced machine-made cotton blankets with Indian patterns. Intended for camping and picnics, they became known as camp blankets. The colors of these washable blankets have held up remarkably over the years. Some later art deco patterns are often grouped in with the Indian patterns.

Old blankets have memories and the uniquely American Indian blanket invokes our romance with the old west. 

Here are some points from an expert to consider when collecting Indian blankets:

The Four Winds Guide to Indian Trade Goods & Replicas:
Including Stone Relics, Beads, Photographs, Indian Wars, and Frontier Goods
- by Preston Miller

Field Guide to Flint Arrowheads & Knives of the North American Indian: Identification & Values
by Lawrence Tully, et al




Marie Buchfink - Bear Shield (Signed)
Bear Shield (Signed)
Marie Buchfink
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