Navajo Germantown “Eye Dazzler” Blanket, ca. 1885

Value (2009) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I inherited it from my grandmother in 1976. I know that my grandfather collected Native American items, and he died in 1937. My guess is that he probably did most of his collecting between 1900 and 1920. And I don't know much more about that. I've been told it's Navajo. I don't know.

APPRAISER:
Well, it is Navajo, but made from Germantown yarns. It's called a Germantown weaving. Germantown was the name of a town in Philadelphia, where they started commercially producing very uniform yarns with lots of colors.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Now, the Navajo had a long tradition of weaving, and they made classic blankets from the early 19th century into the time of their incarceration in the 1860s. And then when the 1880s came along and some of these Germantown yarns started becoming available to the Navajo, they started doing much more elaborate weavings like this one. Looking at this one for a while, I realized it's very influenced by a Saltillo weaving, which was coming out of northern Mexico. They had a long tradition of very beautiful, intricate weavings.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
First of all, it has an early use of a border, and there's almost a rainbow effect. They had so many colors available, that they started doing shading of the colors from dark to light.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
The Saltillos usually had a central diamond with a serrate edge like this. Now, the Navajo, in this case, she's expanded on that idea and made concentric diamonds that vibrate. This particular weaving also has wonderful crosses and it has bow-and-arrows at both ends, and then it has arrowheads...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
coming down from the top. Different sizes. So it's got a beautiful early pictorialness to it, too. Some of these Germantowns, when they were first introduced, the traders didn't like them. They thought they were a little vibrant. In retrospect now, we look at them and they're tour de forces, really. This one needs a cleaning.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And when you get it cleaned, it will just jump off the canvas, so to speak. And they call these eye dazzlers, and they're very popular with collectors. Of all the Germantown weavings, the eye dazzlers are the most popular. Have you ever had it appraised?

GUEST:
No, I haven't. It's been in a box probably since the 1970s and just put away so it didn't get any sun damage.

APPRAISER:
The fold lines need to be taken out of it.

GUEST:
It's been folded a long time.

APPRAISER:
And that can be taken out. Germantowns generally are still a little soft. This is an exception. I think your Germantown blanket at auction would bring between $20,000 to $30,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Wow.

APPRAISER:
With a cleaning, you might be able to add another $5,000 onto that.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Event
Atlantic City, NJ (June 06, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Form
Blanket
Material
Yarn

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