December 2011 - I watched the movie “The Black Swan” a couple nights ago and what a rip-off.
It was about a ballet artist and not about swans at all! The mother of the
ballerina was played by Barbara Hershey. Eons ago in real life, not the movie, she lived with actor/wing nut
David Carradine. Carradine was a vegetarian at the time and said he wouldn't eat
any carrot that had been and I quote “cruelly wrenched from the ground.” Against
this backdrop of rock-solid sanity Barbara changed her last name from Hershey to
Seagull. Here’s the reason why according to Wikipedia: “During the filming of
Last Summer, a seagull was killed. "In one scene", Hershey explained, "I
had to throw the bird in the air to make her fly. We had to reshoot the scene
over and over again. I could tell the bird was tired. Finally when the scene was
finished the director, Frank Perry, told me the bird had broken her neck on the
last throw." Hershey felt responsible for the bird's death and changed her stage
name to "Seagull", as a tribute to the creature. "I felt her spirit enter me",
she later explained, 'It was the only moral thing to do.”
Thank God for Barbara’s career the dead bird was a seagull and not a
turkey vulture. Here's my thinking - if you're a movie star named Barbara Seagull you might still put asses in the seats whereas Barbara Turkey Vulture is only going to put carcasses in the seats. I think about these things so you don't have to. Don't try to thank me.
Well, there’s your standard opening for a monthly blurb about antique
Indian blankets and I apologize for my predictability.
I have been making a political comment or two every month and as of
three minutes ago it became official - every adult woman in America has now
claimed she either had an affair or was sexually harassed by Presidential
hopeful Herman Cain. He’s a pizza tycoon and Herman likes to brag he personally
hand tosses every woman and don’t even get him started on extra meat.
That pithy witticism marks the end of this month’s little comedic
journey and now we’re pulling into the Blanket Of The Month junction. This
selection is from the Allison Bellows collection and is a Racine Woolen
Mills shawl c. 1900. Racine used star motifs more often than any other
company and to my knowledge nobody there ever changed their last name to
Seagull. I only have one picture of the blanket, but take my word for it that
the colors reverse on the other side.
Have a charming Christmas, a happy Hanukkah and a kwality Kwanzaa. I think you’re
November 2011 - Huge news this month and I think it’s pretty obvious what it is. Kim
Kardashian getting divorced? Please! Give the girl some credit for lasting 72
days. That’s over twice the lifespan of the average housefly, although
scientists believe Kim carries far more diseases. Is the big news that
Israel’s prime minister favors a missile attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear
plants? That might make for a dandy episode of “Blowing Up With The Ahmadinejads”, but this story is far bigger than that. Gadaffi
killed? That certainly doomed the comedy team of Larry, Curly and
I won’t keep you in suspense a moment longer...the McRib is back!!!!
Personally, I have never had a McRib...but McDonald’s legend has it that it was
created when McGod took a McRib from McAdam in the Garden Of Eatin’. I’ve done
McRib McResearch and discovered there are no ribs in it so in truth it could be
called the McRibless. Why not a steakless sandwich called the McRibeye? The
fascinating thing about the McRib is that it disappears from the McDonald’s menu
for months at a time and then out of nowhere it’s back!!! – it’s like the Nicholas
Cage of food.
I’m always excited to share pictures of a Pendleton round
corner blanket and there will be at least 25 in the new book that is coming out
sometime within my lifetime barring any major illness or freak household
accident. I am still dealing with the horrors of last month’s appliance mutiny and can already sense my new ones plotting against me. Informal poll:
Does anybody else’s toaster have an electric chamber?
I digress and also
regress (after first gressing). As we all know Pendleton only produced round
corner blankets from 1896 until 1908. I’d date this one 1900-1905, which is right about the same time I had my last date, so there’s your
October 2011 - To those loyal readers of this monthly feature, I plead guilty to the
unpardonable tardiness of this entry. Not that I expect forgiveness, but I come
armed with excuses. My air conditioning unit died a horrible death in
mid-September when the average Phoenix AZ temperature was about a skillion and
five. Cost of the new unit: $4300. Three days later, my toaster drew its last
breath. Replacement cost: $42. Two days after that my Mr. Coffee, which had
been brewing brilliantly every day for nine years, apparently committed suicide
after years of mourning Joe DiMaggio’s death. The Yankee Clipper had been Mr.
Coffee’s spokesman for decades and when he died I presume he became the
spokesman for Mr. Coffin. My Mr. Coffee lived on, but after Joe’s passing it became depressed, moody and just didn't seem...and I’m really sorry about this...perky.
Coffeemaker from Amazon: $61. At this point I felt nothing else could go
Incorrecto, Barry. Computer crash and burn: replacement cost $900. I
decided I need an external hard drive to back up the new computer and that set me
back another hundred bucks. The new computer arrives, the old printer stops
functioning. $200 buys me a new printer. I then replace a faucet for $112 and
believe I have finally quelled the rebellion. I draw a deep breath, go outside
to tend my garden and water cascades over me from scores of tiny holes in my
hose. New hose: $24. Five days later my dishwasher ceases functioning forever.
$725 buys a new one that buries every single piece of my china and silverware in
a deluge of hard water stains and multiple layers of detergent residue. I angrily call
Sears and suggest they rename my appliance The Kenmore Pompeii. They, like you,
are not amused.
Last night my electric toothbrush decided to change things up and go
acoustic. What’s $87 to me at this point? At this rate I'll be living in a dumpster within a month.
That brings me to today. I’m driving down the freeway and every time I brake
the car shimmies violently. Likely cause: warped rotors. Do I even care what
this will cost to repair? It matters not at this point. I have my blankets. There
are no moving parts to break down. With even minimal care they last forever.
They’re warm and beautiful and give me enormous pleasure.
Case in point....October’s Blanket Of The Month. From the Danny
McFalls Collection comes this 1920’s Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket. Great
colors, great pattern. I wouldn't change a thing about it. If it ain’t broke don’t
On the other hand, if it's totally broke and beyond repair it's mine.
September 2011 - And now here's Barry with the news, weather and sports:
In political news, Governor Rick
Perry has seized a commanding lead in his bid to
become the GOP's choice for the White House. Not that it matters if
any Republican wins the presidency, since the Obama administration is not
creating any new jobs.
Hurricane Irene left devastation in its wake
but failed to flatten New York City which prompted Internet and newspaper
headlines such as "New Yorkers Unimpressed By Irene". That's right, apparently the
citizens of the Big Apple weren't enormously relieved, just unimpressed. Of course, all of
us are a little bit let down when a storm doesn't destroy everything we own and take
the lives of our friends and family. Maybe next time, disappointed New
Turning now to sports, the Philadelphia Eagles just signed quarterback Michael Vick to a 100
million dollar contract for six years...that's 42 in dog-killing
As they say at the yogurt factory, so much for
culture. There is blanket business at hand. I hate to admit it, but I need your expertise. I
have been asked to identify the blanket that accompanies young Robert Rinehart
in a photo said to be taken in Wheeler, Oregon in 1919. A scrap of that
blanket remains in the family's hands and can be seen below. I can't find a
picture of the pattern in my files - please let me know if you own a labeled
example and help me look smart.
This month's Blanket Of The Month selection
will grace the pages of my new book. Officially, it's a couch cover and found
so rarely that there is no danger of my being obligated to pick a Couch Cover Of
The Month. This is a first label Pendleton courtesy of Arizona's own Chris
Next month in Jerusalem!
August 2011 - I know there has been a lot of debate about my
finances and intense speculation regarding my continued ability to pay my bills.
Not to worry. Being a man of greater common sense
than the chowderheads loitering in our Congress and Senate, I have steadfastly
refused to raise my debt ceiling. Instead, and this is genius, I have simply
lowered my debt floor.
This whole debt ceiling fiasco has spawned a
fierce distaste for the infantile posturing of both parties, but more
importantly has completely overshadowed news about the most important person in
the world - Kim Kardashian. America's politicians could not have picked a worse
time to squabble - HELLO, Kim is engaged and there are a million and one details
to be sorted out publicly before her big day! Less news about Kim also means
less news about her enchanting sisters, Khloe and Kourtney. There may be a
couple more...Kielbasa and Khlamydia?
There's a domino effect, of course. If this
was the 1950s, there could very well be a Fats Domino effect, but never mind
that. Diminished Kardashian revelations also means less press time for the other
people I care so deeply about. Because of the government's insatiable need to
hog the headlines, I'm not getting all the details I need to emotionally cope with the J. Lo-Mark Anthony split or to properly follow the Jen Anniston
story as she goes househunting with her new boyfriend - I think she might be
serious about this one!!!
I'm hoping these government prima donnas will
make themselves scarce now and step aside for the people who really matter.
Americans want to have a sense of country again, so a little less John Boehner
and Harry Reid and a little more Nancy Grace referring to Casey Anthony as "Tot
Mom" at least 48 times in every sentence, please. Thank you all for respecting
my privacy during this difficult time.
It's been over a year since I've featured any
Beacon blankets and I aim to remedy that right now with a couple snazzy
examples from the Jon Stuart Collection.
(Private message to Kim K - I really, really love your Mom's
idea, but I don't think the post office will assign your ass its own zip
July 2011 - It was 118 here in Phoenix today and my brain must
be completely baked because for a second or two I thought Michelle Bachmann is
the leading Republican candidate for President and the Cleveland Indians are in
first place. WHAT??? THEY REALLY ARE????
Congresswoman Bachmann butchers American
history every time she speaks, but outdid herself when she kicked off her
campaign in Waterloo, Iowa and proclaimed it the hometown of John
Wayne. Turned out it was the home of John Wayne Gacey, The Killer Clown. Oops! I
think we can look forward to her claiming that Lincoln freed the Slavs and that
Washington said,"I can not sell a pie." Bachmann initially believed God had sent
her a message to run for the presidency, but now says perhaps she was mistaken
and it was actually either Dog The Bounty Hunter or former "Taxi" star Marilu
As for the first place Indians, they last won a
pennant in 1954 and mathematicians at MIT just finished analyzing their current
roster and upcoming schedule. They can now say with complete certainty that the
Tribe will not win the American League's Central Division crown this year, but
will possibly contend in the year 73817 if they can bring in two quality
pitchers from other galaxies.
In other news, photography for my new book,
"Still Chasing Rainbows", is done! There are a few tiny things left to do - every
picture has to be Photoshopped, the entire book must be graphically designed and
oh, yeah, I have to actually write it, BUT the photos are the most
important component and they are murderous.
Speaking of murder, here's a blanket you'll
find in the new book. From the Terry Clark Collection comes an absolutely
rambunctious Racine Woolen Mills blanket that's better than a hundred years old.
(Private note to candidate Bachmann - I'm referring to 1911 and no, Michelle,
I'm sorry, you're wrong, that was not the year America entered World War II after the
Japanese attacked Pearl Bailey.)
June 2011 - Six days gone and no Blanket Of The Month selection? I've never
procrastinated this long before, but I've been wrestling with the decision of
whether to drop a whole lot of famous names and post a historic picture that has
just recently come to my attention. Yes! is what I've decided.
Although not a
musician myself, I have met
many a minstrel as I've stumbled through life and for years was a music critic for a
of newspapers. One of my oldest friends is Jimmy Fox, the
The James Gang. The group racked up a few gold albums
and reached their zenith as a power trio with Joe Walsh as their lead
guitarist and singer. James Kent Fox and I met in a summer school
remedial math class when we were 15 and
have been friends ever since. I went on tour with his band many times
fortunate enough to enjoy the company of many a household name. I've
breakfast with Jimi Hendrix, lunch with B.B.King, dinner with
The Who, late
night snacks with James Taylor and the deeply missed Warren Zevon and
"Deliverance" with the late great Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and
Pie. I've sold Indian blankets to Don Henley of The Eagles, Pete Townshend,
Plant, Stevie Winwood and a host of others.
One potential customer I've never met is a
fairly famous guitarist for an English band that seems to have attracted some attention. A Pendleton is draped over him as his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg
looks on. I'm pretty sure that's a guitar pick in his hand and he's literally
picking his nose.
May 2011 - As if being killed yesterday wasn't discouraging enough for Osama bin Laden,
today Donald Trump insisted he produce an official death certificate.
He also questioned how bin Laden ever got into Al-Qaeda considering his poor
grades in bombmaking high school. "I heard he was a terrible student and then
suddenly he's the world's top terrorist?," Trump said in an interview with The
Associated Press. "Let's face facts, the guy was not a businessman of my stature
and the real reason he got buried at sea was because he knew I could sell him
down the river."
A question for Mr. Trump re the commotion he generated over President Obama's
place of birth. Don, where's your wife from? I ask because she'll be the First
Lady if you run and, God forbid, win. She's from Utah, right? No? Ohhhh,
Yugoslavia! Yugo, girl! Now I remember - our President must be American born but there is no
such law regarding his wife. Melania Trump would certainly bring unique qualities to the
White House. True, she has not been elected to any office, but she has had
elective surgery in many offices.
Two things are suddenly startlingly clear: Trump's a toxic gasbag and
bin Laden sleeps with the fishes and so begins the merry month of May.
We're in the home stretch for the photography on the new book and on
schedule for fall publication. We're approaching 350 blankets shot. Not all
will make the final cut, but one that definitely will is this singular Pendleton
round corner from a wonderful Florida collection. Although it doesn't belong to
Donald Trump, he's honored and proud to take credit for it.
April 2011 - The obsessively private author Thomas Pynchon and I have been friends for over
30 years. He is not only my friend, but owns a very important collection of
Indian blankets I've helped him acquire over the years. I have been to his home numerous times and he's often visited mine. He is a gregarious and charming
man....the complete opposite of his public image. To the world at large he's a
ghost, a cypher, a shadowy phantom that might not even
In all the years we've known each other
and for at least the decade before he's allowed no photographs to be published of
him and likely never will. He has become perhaps more famous for
this unyielding anonymity than for his brilliant sprawling novels. I can't say a great deal about the gentleman here without compromising our friendship, but I can tell you
that while publicly he may shun photographers, that is not always the
case privately. I possess more than a few pictures of him shot during our many
times together over the years. While on most occasions a glimpse of a
camera sends him into a rage, on others he begrudgingly allows a quick
photograph...sometimes even eking out an emotionally torn version of a smile.
talk a couple times a week...offering up our opinions on topics important and
absurd and such was the case this Wednesday evening. As always he asked how I
was doing financially and I replied not so bad but would be doing a great deal
better if he would ever allow me to sell a picture or two of him.
"What do you think a photo of me would
fetch?," he mused.
"Six figures certainly. Maybe 7 or 8. The
sky's the limit," I answered.
"But how would they verify it's me?," he
asked. "It could be a picture of Joseph Blow. They're not going to take your word for it and I never give
"You could have your literary agent verify
it's you and I would be rich. It could be a picture from 1980. It doesn't have
to be anything recent."
"But why would I let you sell my picture for a
fortune when I could sell it myself?"
"Because if you wanted to do that you would
have done it years ago."
"Excellent point," he laughed. "How much do
you think you could get for a picture of one of my Indian
"What? You have got to be kidding."
"Not at all. Publish a picture of any one you
want. See what happens. Maybe you'll get rich, Barry. Maybe you won't. Roll the
dice. big boy. And just publish one side of the blanket...maybe somebody will
pay dearly to see the other side. It could happen. People are strange...I
know...I used to be one."
So here's a picture of one side of Thom
Pynchon's c. 1910 Racine blanket. If you want to see the other side it'll cost
March 2011 - After spending the last few days listening to
Charlie Sheen I've become nostalgic for the clear-headed thinking of Charlie
Manson. Like all of us who have blown jobs that pay us 1.8 million dollars a
week, Mr. Sheen is on a mission to make the American public understand he did
not quit - he was fired. Clearly it would be insane to quit and make
himself ineligible for $400 per week in state unemployment compensation. We
should all be more sensitive to Charlie's plight - you try being a single father
with five kids and two porn star girlfriends. It's difficult when you want your kids to toe
the line and your girlfriends to snort it. Plus it's confusing for Charlie - his
kids don't want to be spanked and his girlfriends do. What with all the unrest in the world the major stories
are starting to blend together in a indecipherable blur. Do I have this right? If
Moammar Gadhafi is deposed is
he planning to star in "Major League 3"?
I may be fuzzy on current events, but when it comes
to Blanket Of The Month I am locked in on a most worthy selection. It's a
Pendleton I had never seen before Mr. Crow Gellman plunked it down so I could
take pictures of it for "Still Chasing Rainbows". The legendary Pendleton
designer Joseph Rawnsley modeled that wonderful Indian head as the centerpiece
of this design. We've seen it before without the Hudson's Bay type stripes and
the stripped down version is in "Chasing Rainbows", but the stripes take it to
another level entirely. I was going to commission Pendleton to make this same blanket with Charlie Sheen's head, but it's stuck far too firmly up his ass. WINNING!
February 2011 - I know...I know...February 3rd and still no Blanket Of The
Month...but thankfully I've got a boatload of excuses. First,
I exhibited at the High Noon show and talked blankets for three days straight
until I could no longer stand the sound of my own voice. (Incidentally, my voice
has often been compared to John Lennon's, although very unfavorably). Rather
than the customary socializing in the evenings with my fellow dealers, friends
and customers I raced home every night to photograph blankets for Still Chasing
Rainbows. I was getting less than three hours of sleep a night and that's not good - I usually have less
energy than a sloth after 8. The day after High Noon
concluded I journeyed south to attend the annual Tucson Gem Show and spent a
great deal of money on items that seemed absolutely critical at the time
but insane now that I'm staring at them at home. One of my purchases was a
sacred lingam stone from India, apparently way less sacred to the seller than
the $40 I paid for it. And isn't it far more likely it's from Indiana than India?
Just to make sure I'm giving you enough excuses for your blanket buck, I've also
had three shifts of house guests AND had to cover hundreds of frost-sensitive plants in my
garden because it's dipped below freezing the last two nights here in the
Arizona desert. Seriously, how much more can one man do?
You'll be delighted to know blankets are pouring in to be photographed for
the new book and I think it's safe to say it's going to be the greatest book
ever published, although Andy Varipapa's "Ten Tips To Better Bowling" is right
Now let's get down to business. Please
humor me and scroll down to the July 2008 Blanket of The Month and then return here and feast
your eyes on its big brother - a very early Racine that's the closest
thing to a Navajo Germantown eyedazzler ever seen in a trade blanket. I
know I was late this month, but wasn't it worth the wait?
January 2011 - Happy New Year to Juan and Al. I was hospitalized last month and after being released have seen more doctors than I have in my previous life combined. One of my best friends died recently and others are seriously ill. This is what the golden years are truly all about - giving physicians all your gold.
I've been in denial re my advanced age and the changes time has wrought on my face and body, but reality has arrived thanks to The Three Stooges. I was watching them today and realized I'd finally achieved old age when I thought, "You know, Moe looks great and Larry really has a nice head of hair."
It's obviously over, but before I go I'm getting "Still Chasing Rainbows" done and published this fall. Believe me, we've been photographing some unbelievable blankets. I'm thrilled about the blankets and palpitating about the extras that'll be included like this month's Blanket Of The Month entry...not blankets, but two pages of an extraordinarily rare Buell catalog from the Chris Odgers collection. The new book will feature not one, but two complete Buell catalogs that have not been seen since 1912. Again I was guided by Moe who always said, "Pick two!"
Business Barry needs to mention I will be exhibiting at the fantastic High Noon Show in Mesa, Arizona on January 28, 29 and 30. It's the best show in the country for antique Western and Indian material and this year Cindy Rennels will be on hand to sell her wonderful vintage trade and camp blankets, too. If you're in town early and want to drop by and see my entire inventory call me at (602) 595-1157 or e-mail at email@example.com and mention I sent you to me so I can pay myself a commission.
( Alas, the links mentioned below are now dead.)
December 2010 - Last month I mentioned I had written an article about basketball star Steve
Nash and would be making the acquaintance of singer Gary Brooker. Here's the update on both scintillating stories!
My article said that Nash, a Canadian citizen, would be leaving the
Phoenix Suns to run for mayor of Victoria, British Columbia. I'll be darned -
turns out I made the whole thing up! Chaos ensued. This is the link to the local
CBS-TV piece on the hijinks and includes a telephone interview with me. http://www.kpho.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4402958 Their
reporter asked for a picture of yours truly to accompany his report and didn't
I send him one of my oldest son?
As a bonus I am throwing in a link to a
National Public Radio interview I did. http://kjzz.org/news/arizona/archives/201011/hn_fakenewtimes I discuss this hoax and a few other little white lies I may have told in the past.
I met Procol Harum lead singer Gary
Brooker after a magnificent performance in Los Angeles and it went splendidly. He was slowly
sipping a glass of red wine when we began conversing and my sparkling banter must have really put him in a celebratory mood because he was chugging the bottle within three minutes. That the
guy totally loved me was obvious during the concert when he clearly looked right
at me and sang, that's right, "A Whiter Shade Of Pal".
It's debatable whether this month's blanket is
an Indian blanket. A couple puny lines of geometric pattern do not an Indian blanket normally
make, but this blanket belonged to an Indian fighter. Major General David S.
Stanley won the Medal Of Honor for his valor in the Union Army and after the
Civil War headed the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873. Stanley and his regiment were dispatched to stop Indian raids in west Texas in 1879. He went to Santa Fe in 1882 as commander of the District of New
Mexico. In March 1884, he assumed command of the Department of
Texas. He died in 1902 and this blanket dates from 1890-1900. I find it astounding that I know what this guy did all those years and yet don't have a clue where I was or what I was doing from 1965 through 1980.
that, this month's entry is history!
November 2010 - This is going to be a memorable
month for me, which is unfortunate because I'm getting so old I can rarely
remember anything. However, here are two things I think are going to happen. On
the 4th an enormously long article I wrote about Phoenix Suns basketball star
Steve Nash will be the cover story of the Phoenix New Times newspaper. You may
well be reading about the article's explosive contents in your local paper, the Internet and/or hearing about it on national television. I likely will
become internationally famous and live a grand life of epic proportions. Or I
can just stay right here and continue to be completely
Please try raising your ancient hand if you
remember Procol Harum's 1967 enigmatic hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". While that
ditty is certainly their signature song, over the years the band created many
classic albums that all showcased the soulful, evocative voice of lead singer
Gary Brooker, who is now 65. I was a mere lad of 20 and he two years my senior
when AWSOP hit the charts and we've been great
friends ever since. Well, he's actually been my imaginary friend, but that's all
about to change when Mr. Brooker and I finally meet for the first time on
Sunday, November 14th in a little California city I like to call Los Angeles. I
have contemplated the scene in my head many times over and it always plays out the
same way - I tell Gary, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, how thoroughly his
singing has entertained and comforted me over the years and he sighs with
enormous relief as I'm hauled away by security. But as I leave...and this is the genius part...I endear myself
to him forever because I skip the light fandango and turn cartwheels 'cross the floor. No way he's not going to love that.
what's happening.... I'm going to be society's darling and Gary Brooker and I
are going to be doing all kinds of fun stuff together and meanwhile you can
look at this blanket that has a great history. It belonged to Charles Ferguson,
who was the Pendleton mill foreman from 1901-1906. During that time, the mill
made only round corner blankets, so what's this? A blanket he acquired after he
left Pendleton or a prototype or even the product of another company? I think
it's a Pendleton made between 1908 and 1910 and the pattern is truly one of a
kind. I'd continue writing, but I really have to get ready for a big party where
witty, beautiful people are all going to make a huge fuss over me.
October 2010 - My son Matthew turns 12 tomorrow and is getting a jump on being a teenager by already being utterly dismissive of me. We were driving yesterday and I was shooting the breeze yakking away about nothing. After an ominous silence from his portion of the car, Matthew turned to me and said, "So when did you turn into my wife?"
national front, I'm still twitching with excitement from my trip to Washington
to participate in the Glenn Beck rally. Thank you, Glenn and Sarah and all your
followers for restoring America! I filmed every God approved minute and will be
releasing it as a feature film entitled "Beneath The Dignity Of The Planet Of
Photography for "Still Chasing Rainbows", the sequel to my
first book, begins this month and I hope to have it in your hands next year. If
you haven't contacted me about the possibility of having your blankets included, get off your lazy ass and contact me. I'm giving away new cars to the
first 50 callers and, as always, free balloons and hot dogs for the
There is a
glitch in my Web site program and I'm having a difficult time getting images of both sides
of each blanket to appear, so you may be seeing one side or both. If you're
seeing both sides plus an aerial view, please consult your opthamologist.
This month's blanket is a screaming Racine c. 1900-1910, a
superior variation of the pattern shown on the bottom right of page
183 of "Chasing Rainbows". Incidentally, that is a very dark picture, but enough about the state of my mental health.
September 2010 - For those of you interested in my love life,
my romantic advisers keep telling me the way to go is friends with
benefits. Fine...who's got dental?
It seems so obvious, but why have I never heard of anyone getting plastered in Paris?
August's big story was a California man's garage sale find of glass negatives proclaimed by his representatives to be the work of Ansel Adams and worth 200 million dollars. Ansel Adams' estate maintains they are absolutely not the master's work and rounding off to the nearest number are worth zero.
Staggered, but not knocked out by this blow, the wannabe tycoons say, "OK, maybe they're not Ansel Adams' work, but what about John Quincy Adams? Right, cameras didn't exist when he was alive. Then how about Patch Adams? No, that was a Robin Williams movie role. Uh...Edie Adams? The singer/actress? Come on, she was married to the comedian Ernie Kovacs! Damn, you don't remember them? Wow, we'll get back to you."
After exhaustive research, they now believe the negatives are worth over 300 million dollars and are unquestionably the work of Grizzly Adams.
How sure are they? "Hey," a group spokesman said confidently, "does a bear take photographs in the woods?"
I think maybe he should have said "of the woods", but that's Monday morning quarterbacking and feels nitpicky and ill-timed since this is already Wednesday.
With all that in mind, what better moment to introduce September's
Blanket Of The Month? I give you a very rare Racine Woolen
Mills blanket that dates a few years north or south of 1900. I've only seen a
few in this pattern and this example is in superb condition. Of course, I have left the dirt smudges on my camera lens to give the illusion the blanket has ghostly circles floating languidly over its surface. No wonder critics everywhere have called my work "despicable and an unforgivable affront to all that is good".
The blanket has an unnapped finish (I'm talking no
fuzz), an extremely dense weave and feels very luxurious to the hand. I'm sure
there are many things that feel luxurious in your hands, but seriously, wouldn't
it be better if you kept that information between you and
your parole board?
August 2010 - Finally addressing the explosive tapes recorded by his ex-girlfriend that threaten to destroy his career, Mel Gibson
struck back today and claimed his troubles are the result of a simple
slip of the tongue. In a message to his fans worldwide Mel said, "Hey,
didn't I mean to say "Blue me!"
In June's entry below I mentioned that one of the world's great collections would be landing here in July. That exciting event has been delayed and delivery is now expected within the next few weeks. One of the blankets in that collection is pictured below - the Pendleton Dr. Whirlwind pattern and so named by collectors after a member of the Cayuse tribe wearing the pattern in a vintage photo snapped by the famous Oregon photographer Lee Moorhouse. The blanket was certainly owned by Moorhouse as it was seen in numerous other photos he took and part of an Indian artifact exhibit he often mounted. The Dr. Whirlwind pattern is shown on page 80 of my book, but this example is far more striking in its coloration. Many collectors consider this Pendleton's most dynamic pattern. It was first offered in the company's 1902 catalog.
- It's currently 111 degrees here in Phoenix AZ, but of course it's a dry heat so it only feels like I'm in the burning bowels of Hell trapped in a flaming choke hold being unmercifully applied by Satan. Naturally, this makes me think of wool Indian trade blankets because everything makes me think of Indian trade blankets. What I'm pondering this month is that the vast majority of blankets were not the dynamic patterns and colors you see featured on this site. For the most part manufacturers churned out primarily earthtones in less than powerful patterns and after 80 or 100 years the ravages of time can dull their appeal tremendously. In my opinion Oregon City blankets - the less flamboyant patterns, mind you - fare the worst. In even average condition the life seems completely drained out of them and what's left is uglier than Chanukkah at the Ahmadinejad's house. In bad condition they're scarier than having all your money in British Petroleum futures. BUT what did they look like when they were brand new? Can I tell you how delighted I am that you ask? It just so happens they looked exactly like the mint condition 1920s Oregon City pictured below. With serious wear it would perhaps be more repulsive than Rosie O'Donnell in a pie-eating contest, but in factory new condition it's more sexy than yes, it's your turn to think of an analogy.
June 2010 - Your time has come,
Beacon enthusiasts. I have heard your impassioned pleas for pictures of
the cotton creations and here are three that have miraculously retained
their factory cardboard labels for over 80 years each. This trio will
have to satisfy the cotton coalition for awhile because the woolen winds
are swirling. A bitter divorce (is there really any other kind?)
has resulted in my purchasing one of the world's great trade blanket
collections and it will be landing here in July. Also, don't forget to
mark your calendars - my birthday is June 15th. I'm planning a
celebration at home with all the people who love me. Hopefully, Jessica
Simpson and Megan Fox can just enjoy the cake and ice cream without
fighting over me like they did last year. I'm dreaming - obviously this is just some
sick fantasy and neither woman is going to be anywhere near my
birthday party. Yeah, only because Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson won't let them!
May 2010 - SHOCKING
NEWS! After a mere 8 years of procrastination and sloth, I AM WRITING THE SEQUEL TO "CHASING RAINBOWS"! I've found a printer and now the real work
begins - amassing 500 or so GREAT photographs of trade and camp blankets.The goal is to not
duplicate any of the blankets shown in CR - and I need your help! Yes,
you! This is going to be my last blanket book and I want it to be as
comprehensive as possible. If you own any blanket patterns missing from
CR let me hear from you - I also want to picture blanket company
catalogs, promotional material and historical photographs of Indians
wearing trade blankets. I need the help of the entire lunatic blanket
collecting community to make this a killer book - the world needs to see
your stuff! If a photo of your item makes the final cut, YOUR NAME WILL BE IN THE BOOK AND
YOU'LL BECOME OBSCENELY WEALTHY AND INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS! Did you ever dream life could be so sweet?
Contact me today before you forget at 602-595-1157 - NOTHING
is more important than this and no, I am not exaggerating. Imagine having me show up at your
home to take pictures of your collection. Then imagine serving me your rarest meats and cheeses. Did someone just say ice tea and all I can eat sushi? Oh, you
After you're done talking to me hurry back here and covet this sensational Knight blanket. Look familiar? Scroll down to
February's blanket...HELLO, same pattern! This is what
makes blanket collecting so darn fascinating...I'd never seen this design in 41 years of searching and then find it twice in four months. Maybe I'll find another one next
month. Hey, stranger things have happened...OK, no, actually they haven't.
April 2010 - Whereas each month I try to showcase a unique blanket, I am breaking from tradition this one time to present an absolutely unique photograph of my friend of 45 years, the exceedingly anxious comic Richard Lewis. If you know Richard from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or any of his hundreds of network TV appearances and concerts you know he ALWAYS wear black. Not in this picture, my friends. He stayed at my house last weekend and yes, those are his pajama bottoms. He's posing with my sons Ethan on the left and Matthew in the center - now about 7 years older than their photo on my Home Page. Matthew is autistic, yet sees things far more clearly than anyone I know. Before this picture was snapped Richard had just tried to dazzle the boys with his humor - he had scored with Ethan, but Matthew was clearly unimpressed.
"Seriously, Matthew, what do you think of me?," Richard asked.
"Freakish," my son replied..
When you're the most neurotic man in the world it is not an easy thing to be destroyed by an 11 year old boy. What ensued was a classic Lewis rant.
"Wasn't that a little bit harsh? Must you be so judgmental? Could you be funny if there was a 7 foot cardboard Indian standing behind you making anti-Semitic remarks? Don't I already have low self-esteem? When I was your age my mother put up a Jewish satellite dish - it brought in problems from other families. And did I mention my parents didn't want me? When I was born didn't my mother charge me for labor?"
Matthew rolled his eyes and looked sorrowfully at me, then Ethan and finally turned his gaze to Richard and said, "I'm autistic. What's wrong with you?"
March 2010 - I never talk religion or politics, so let's get them both out of the way. For three years a very serious man who sold old mining artifacts set up next to me at the High Noon Show. We exchanged cordial hellos and goodbyes, but very little beyond that. Overhearing his conversations it became clear he was deeply religious and in fact a Baptist minister. By year four it apparently was painfully obvious to him I desperately needed help from on high. During a lull in the show he turned and said, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"I suppose," I replied. "If it's too personal, I just won't answer."
"Fair enough," he said. He then looked me straight in the eye and asked, " Barry, what is your personal relationship with Jesus?"
Immediately I answered, "Blood relative." End of our conversation. Forever.
As for politics, I don't want to imply Sarah Palin is dumb, but if I gave her a penny for her thoughts she could give me change.
Any further questions regarding my politics or religion? I thought not.
If all of you kids will now scramble to page 287 of your well-worn copy of my brilliant book "Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets" you will see a very lovely Oregon City blanket. Below is the same pattern with an OC first label circa 1911 in a two-color monochromatic treatment, the only one I have encountered in this pattern. Nor have I collided with any other two-color Oregon City blanket except a Totem Pole pattern that I recall was grey and white. I can't explain why the blanket looks like it has distinct panels on the lower half of it, either - something likely went amiss in the weaving process . Below that is the same pattern in a very snazzy color combo - there is no particular reason for picturing it other than I can, so why not? Color me whimsical.
February 2010 - Inspired
by Mark McGwire coming clean on his steroid use, I would like to set
the record straight once and for all and confess that yes, damn it, I
did go through an entire box of Luden's Wild
Cherry Cough Drops during
the 1997-1998 cold and flu season.
The High Noon show was excellent with many friends on hand and many blankets sold and on their way to some important collections. On the buying end nary a blanket did I purchase - there were very few outside of what I was offering and none sufficiently rare to interest me. This makes Barry a very sad little Blanketboy. Obtaining great blankets is what we wool junkies do and if we're not buying, we're dying.
But chins up and raise your glasses high to the blanket I promised you last month from the mysterious Knight Woolen Mills of Provo, Utah. No catalog has ever surfaced from this mill and we have no idea why or for exactly how long they manufactured Indian blankets, but I do know this particular example is museum quality and as good a trade blanket as one could ever hope to find - this would be a crown jewel in the most advanced collection. Take note of the gently rounded corners - always found on Knight blankets and a much less radical corner than the legendary Pendleton round corners. It's unbelievably heavy - I'm guessing at least a pound heavier than any blanket of similar size from any other manufacturer. The condition is pristine and the pattern and colors superlative. I trust you all will enjoy this one and until next month have a great Knight!
January 2010 - Yet another decade begins in which each time I go to the supermarket I will be asked if I want stamps and ice and I will politely and consistently decline. Am I totally out of step with the rest of society? Are there a lot of people mailing ice?
There was a blue moon on New Year's Eve. Now I'm concerned the moon may be made out of blue cheese and I have no idea what wine complements it properly. Obviously this is going to be a baffling decade for me.
I'm going to skip my usual drama this month and cut to the chase. I will be exhibiting at the High Noon show January 30-31 in Mesa, Arizona. If you're going to be in town for the show and want a tour of Barry's Blanket Biosphere e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or call me at 602-595-1157. High Noon is the best antique cowboy and Indian extravaganza in the country and I spare no expense in creating the most cutting edge presentation of any of the 150 plus exhibitors. My piles of blankets maniacally strewn about as if rifled through by a burglar frantically searching for cash and jewelry might at first appear sloppy and unprofessional, but it's actually a look so sophisticated that I doubt anyone will fully understand it during my lifetime. Such is fate or as the French so eloquently put it, "I surrender!"
The blankets gods smiled upon me last week and I acquired a group of very rare trade blankets including next month's featured blanket - the flat out best Knight Woolen Mills blanket ever found - be here February 1 and behold perfection! For this month's selection we turn to one of my very favorite pictorial Racine patterns - scroll down and you will see it in several different color combinations - but this freshly acquired example is in my favorite combo of black and red. Happy New Year and may all your blankets be heart smart and gluten-free.
December 2009 - I'm listening to Bob Dylan's latest CD "Christmas In My Heart" and I can only hope it will inspire the very prolific rapper Lil Wayne to record his salute to the Hebrew holidays "Sukkos In Your Tuchas".
Now that I've gotten that joke out of the way, I must discuss my Uncle Jack who recently turned 80. My uncle, known in most major American cities as Jack Weinstock, is cooler than anyone you've ever known or will ever meet. He's been a high performance race driver, ridden motorcycles at terrifying speeds, captained his very own extremely large boat, been the head clown in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, is a world-class cook and has married and divorced two absolutely stunning redheads named Sharon. He's been millions of dollars in the black followed by even more millions in the red several times over and then finally in his 60s introduced washable silk clothing to the US and made so much money even he can't blow it. Now he drives the most beautiful Bentley convertible you've ever seen and is married to a gorgeous redhead named Sandy (thus breaking out of his Sharon rut but still loyally sticking with the letter S) and lives like the king he is in a magnificent apartment in Aventura, Florida.
Prior to that he resided in Connecticut where he had a 10 foot statue of the Blues Brothers in his living room, kitchen mats that said "Hi, I'm Mat", a complete set of life-size fiberglass farm animals in his backyard, a robotic dog that greeted visitors at the door and a garage full of never-opened gadgets that included Microphone In A Briefcase and The Solar Waffle Iron. He's had two bypass operations, multiple angioplasties, several stents, a pacemaker and was pinned under a runaway Mercedes that came through the wall of a Manhattan restaurant where he was drinking cheap wine and suffered what we were told was a fatal or at the very least massively destructive brain injury. Three weeks later he was better than new tossing candy to fellow motorists while dressed as the Easter Bunny complete with ears. The man can not be killed - he's like a Jewish cockroach. Spitting in Father Time's face, he has retained all his hair and has grown shockingly handsomer as he's aged - so he's either a premium specialty cheese or a goddamn freak.
When he turned 80 I knew something special was coming and I wasn't disappointed. He left high school at 17 to join the Army and so he missed his senior prom. He remedied that a couple weeks ago when he threw himself his Senior Senior Prom for 140 friends and family members...most in 1950's clothing who danced to an 11 piece band, drank malts and many other drinks that had considerably more vodka in them. The entire event was highlighted by a hip-hop dance routine set to 50 Cent's throbbing "In Da Club" showcasing my uncle as lead dancer (of course!) and star (what else?) complete with four back-up dancers.
It's time for all of you to meet my Uncle Jack in person and feel instantly diminished so please click on this link http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/communities/story/1343296.html and read the article and watch the video. Seriously, don't you wish he was your uncle?
Per usual, what does any of this have to do with Indian blankets? Well, pretty much zero, but I can't tell you how much it thrills me when my uncle looks at me with wonder in his orbs and says,"I just can't get over that you're the world authority on something." So I'm feeling pretty good about myself because the coolest guy in the world thinks I'm cool. Maybe I'm the second coolest guy in the world? No, number one is my Uncle Jack and then Jack Nicholson. That drops me to number three at best but now I'm thinking there's Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery, DeNiro, Pacino, Tiger Woods before the car accident, etc., etc. OK, obviously I'm well out of the Top Ten, but try having Johnny Depp identify Indian blankets...can NOT do it to save his life!
So look and learn, Johnny. I was going to feature some Beacon blankets this month, but that was before uber-collector Gary Diamond sent me photos of his latest monumental find - a missing link in the evolution of Racine trade blankets.
What we see in thousands of photos from the late 1800s are Indian women wearing Victorian shawls - a great many of them Racines. Racine shawls of this era were predominantly brown or grey and always featured framed patterns - unpatterned centers framed by a decorative border on all four sides. A typical example is seen in the first photo below. Over time Racine produced well over a hundred different border designs - stars, leaves, paisleys and floral patterns generally. Eventually that frame became more Indian-looking in composition and then Racine transitioned into multi-color full-blown Indian patterns. Racine Indian blankets are usually banded patterns - bands of design separated by bands of solid color.
I believed that was the clear evolution of Racines until Mr. Diamond's recent find of the blanket in photo two - the first Racine blanket to my knowledge that presents a clearly Victorian pattern in band form rather than a frame. Perhaps this was a fluke pattern and Racine returned to its framed ways. However, the possibility must now be considered that this style begat Racine's wonderful Indian trade blanket banded patterns with a splendid example appearing as photo 3.
Anyway, Gary's blanket is really cool, but in no way cooler than my Uncle Jack, who unlike the wannabe in the Dos Equis ads, is truly The Most Interesting Man In The World. Stay thirsty, my friends.
November 2009 - You may have noticed that each Blanket Of The Month entry is longer than the one that preceded it and it's all because of you! After all these months in your company I've overcome my shyness and just feel so comfortable around you I've become positively chatty! (Even my gay readers have to admit that's the gayest sentence they've ever read). Don't you worry, I'll gladly talk about blankets but our relationship is so much more than that now. I feel I can share my life with you - in fact, you're welcome to be me for as long as you want - that will free me up to concentrate on my three real passions - off-roading, clogging and stump removal. I'll be frank and you can be Sinatra, October was not good to me. It ended last night with Halloween and coincidentally the month began with a court appearance versus a witch. In-between I masterminded two massive business deals for friends who apparently were so overcome with rapture of the deep profits that they neglected to offer me so much as a farthing. Fortunately, I am a man who does not let failure go to his head. I am channeling my frustration and rage by personally digging up my entire front lawn armed only with a pick and shovel. Why wouldn't I hire laborers to do this backbreaking work for me? Two excellent reasons: I'm cheap and I'm stupid. And why would a cheap and stupid man dig up a perfectly good lawn? You just asked a great question that deserves my very best explanation! I live in Phoenix, Arizona - part of the vast parched Sonoran desert. Grass has absolutely no business in a desert - every single blade is an abomination and a slap in the face via Bermuda to Mother Nature. I am going NOT green and creating a more natural environment that is a true celebration of native habitat - a barren Godforsaken expanse of naked scorched earth and sun-blasted rock fit only for lizards, rattlesnakes and scorpions. I am now in the third day of demolishing my entire front yard with at least four more days of destruction ahead of me. I have mightily swung my pick so many times that I am now permanently bent over and look like a Jewish anteater. My back and legs are infernos of agony and my arms are worse. My face and hair are caked with dust, my clothes reek of sweat but in the end all my toil will pay off for I will have a desert landscape so grotesquely realistic, so horribly natural, so unspeakably bleak it will kill all hope in any human that gazes upon it.
Which naturally brings me to this month's blanket. An eyedazzling Racine shawl circa 1895-1900 and I apologize, but I only have one picture of it. Interesting angle I photographed it at. And the fuss they made about Ansel Adams! Just like my yard, I say dig it!
October 2009 - There's nothing like a court appearance to begin
the month and October 1 will find me cast in the heroic role of plaintiff in a
nasty little matter concerning a very expensive fire in my office that the
Phoenix Fire Department has determined was/is arson. So while you're looking at this
fantastic trade blanket I will be staring into the rotten little eyes of the
person who is suspect #1. Who's got fire jokes? I've heard quite a few so
far. Yes, of course I will be sliding down a pole this morning. No,
I haven't priced Dalmations and yes, Denis Leary is my attorney. Anybody got an
old flame reference? How about I've met my match? Thanks very much, I
do feel the burn and sorry, I am absolutely not carrying a
Let us not forget that after a fire the cycle
of life begins again and with it comes new growth....which would be just great
if my office was a goddamned forest, but does a goddamned forest have leather
sofas and coffee tables? I think not. So listen up, all ye would-be arsonists, I
will be avenged...I'M BARRY, NOT BAMBI!
So this is some blanket, huh? It's the finest
example ever found of a Buell Chief's blanket. In its 1910-1911 catalog Buell
calls this pattern the Hanolchadi (allegedly Navajo for "old chief")
and let's not kid each other, you can't pronounce it and neither can I. Notice
the very gently rounded corners as compared with the blatantly rounded corners
on the earliest Pendletons.
Look it over carefully. There's no rush. Slow
way, way, way down...seriously, where's the fire?
September 2009 - It's currently a very pleasant 109 degrees and what other man, woman, child or coyote residing in Phoenix, Arizona could be obsessing over wool blankets except yours truly? I assure you the correct answer is none and I am rounding off to the nearest number. But obsessing I am and I have always been unhappy with the picture on page 184 of my book. If you'll all now turn to that page, class, you will see the picture that has always haunted me and caused me so many sleepless nights (to be fair, it's either that picture or the fact I sincerely believe my girlfriend will kill me in my sleep.) The book image was shot in dismal light with a malfunctioning flash and so today we ask you to direct your eyeballs to two much brighter pictures of the same blanket taken in my massive kitchen. As we all know, the pictures produced in my kitchen are state of the art and many amateur photographers ask me how I am able to consistently produce such superior shots. Well, I guess it's just God-given talent that obviously you will never have, OK? Moving on while you reorient your lives and dreams, this blanket was identified as the Class Y in the Racine catalog, but called the Yuma in the Shuler & Benninghofen catalog. You may call it either Todd or Leonard.
August 2009 - My fondest wish is that each and every one of you will consider my site the intellectual hub of the vintage Indian blanket world with an emphasis on anything Jonas Brothers. Which one is your favorite - Curly or Shemp? While you're mulling over your selection allow me to present a shawl that offered unique identification challenges. Because I'm senile the pattern didn't ring a bell. The very fancy fringe, sheared finish and psychedelic red/white banding whispered Racine to me, but the edges of a label remained and no Racine has ever surfaced bearing a label. The size perfectly matched that of a Pendleton label and some of the shawl's colors were straight from the Pendleton palette. I judged the blanket to be circa 1910-1915 and it seemed too bold in its coloration to be a Pendleton of that era and lively and beautiful enough to be a Racine. How could I then explain the label? Well, I couldn't while being sober and a fully labeled example of the same pattern in a very private collection is conclusive proof that this is a Pendleton Beaver State first label c. 1915. Wait until I tell the Jonas Brothers - Moe will go nuts!
July 2009 - Those of you who have the misfortune of knowing me personally can vouch for the fact I take nothing more seriously than the selection of the Blanket Of The Month. I truly had an amazing Hamilton blanket picked out for July but then I thought no, I've been way too easy on you people...let's be honest, you've been spoiled rotten and you know it. Month in and month out a gorgeous blanket. Well, here in the real blanket world it can get mighty damn ugly sometimes. To illustrate that very fact and illuminate some of the unimaginable visual dangers I face every single day I have selected a 1920s Oregon City in everybody's favorite color combination - orange and purple. If this was a suit Prince wouldn't wear it. If it was a dress Dolly Parton wouldn't be caught dead in it, but some lunatic at Oregon City thought this combo would sell well and everybody else in the decision-making progress obviously agreed. What kind of mind-altering chemicals could they have possibly been exposed to? I'm sorry...I'm being too critical...because when you look at this blanket with an open mind you have to admit it matches...well, absolutely nothing.
June 2009 - In a day highlighted by international complaining and weeping I will turn 62 on June 15. One of my fellow baby boomers was feeling immortal one day and claimed 60 was the new 40. That statement was clearly insane. Let me assure you 62 is the new 190. Nevertheless, I continue the relentless hunt for Indian blankets and a quality urologist. Why does anybody become a urologist? Did I not hang out with the right kids? Because as I recall none of them were that interested in urine. At what point does a young man or woman choose to make human liquid waste their life's work? "Let's see...I'll become a doctor...yeah, maybe a great heart specialist....nope, I've gotta go with urine!"
I seem to have wandered a bit off-topic. Focus, Barry!
Verily, let the news ring out to every corner of blanketdom. Birthday Boy's choice for Blanket Of The Month is an extremely odd, yet very appealing shawl that is unlabeled, but I believe to be a 1920's Oregon City.
Ordinarily I am a condition freak, but I have owned this blanket for close to ten years despite it having thin spots and even a few holes. Why would I do such a thing? Because it is the only example of the pattern I have ever seen and unlike Dane Cook it makes me laugh. It's a very happy looking blanket and let's face it, when you start applying human emotions to an Indian blanket isn't it time to be institutionalized? This is what I mean about turning 62. Next month I may be talking about dancing the rhumba with a blanket or inviting one to a romantic dinner. It's very hard to watch myself mentally deteriorate like this, but it could be worse. I could be a urologist.
May 2009 - I rarely run across a blanket that leaves me dumbfounded, but color me stumped on this remarkable very early wool trade blanket. I have absolutely no idea who manufactured it - if I had to guess I'd say Buell but why guess when I can be blissfully ignorant instead? This came from the estate of Milton K. Paine of Windsor, Vermont. Mr. Paine was a druggist who concocted the wildly popular "Paine's Celery Compound" and sold the rights in 1880 undoubtedly for a very handsome price.
I quote the potion's magical powers - "Thousands of lives that are now fast wearing out would be prolonged if Paine's Celery Compound were in each instance used to stop those ominous pains over the
kidneys, to build up the rundown nervous strength, and cure permanently those
more and more frequently occurring attacks of headache and indigestion."
For those who didn't suffer reoccurring headaches, an evening dose or two of Paine's with its 21% alcohol content could get them jump-started first thing the very next morning.
April 2009 - This is probably the most atypical Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket I've ever encountered and the only example of this pattern I've ever seen. It bears the very first OC label so I would date it c. 1905-1911. The design looks Scandinavian with its snowflake motif and I can't recall seeing a pattern from any company remotely like it. Of course, at my age I don't recall brushing my teeth this morning so don't go by me.
March 2009 - Since I suppose I'm a liberal it's only fitting that I am quoted liberally in this month's issue of Phoenix Home & Garden magazine in a lovely article on America's most unique commercially made textile - the American Indian trade blanket. Let Hefner have his little Playmate Of The Month thing if that makes the old boy happy, but everyone knows the truly classic beauties are showcased as Blanket Of The Month and may I remind you....no airbrushing needed here! This month's honey is a hot little number made in the 1920's by Oregon City Woolen Mills. We don't see this big bold pattern from OC very often...it measures a very voluptuous 60" x 72" and it just loves cold romantic evenings and its turn-offs are washing machines and moths.
February 2009 - After a spirited debate with myself I've decided to feature yet another Racine Woolen Mills blanket this month. This baby is extremely rare and approximately a hundred years old - the same age I apparently appear to be to the entire female gender. I can actually sense women checking me out and mentally dressing me. But I digress - enjoy the Racine while I continue muttering to myself.
January 2009 - Many of Barack Obama's closest friends call him Barry and because inevitably we will be confused for each other I have beefed up security and named a cabinet - in my case a medicine cabinet I now call Antonio. As my first official act of 2009 I present to you, the people, a dead mint Capps Hualpai pattern blanket c. 1911.
December 2008 - I say a fond goodbye to 2008 and its fiery pit of economic doom and a cheery hello to the only blanket pattern ever made by three companies - in this case Oregon City, Beacon and Pendleton. Who made it first? I can say with complete certainty that I haven't a clue. There is one original here and two cases of outright design thievery - one of the culprits was likely Beacon who made their copy in cotton for a tenth the price of the two wool versions. I do know all were made in the 1920's and it's one of my all-time favorite patterns. Directly below is the Oregon City version:
And now the Beacon:
And lastly the Pendleton:
November 2008 - It has just dawned on my seriously thick head that I have not had the common decency to name a single Capps blanket as Blanket Of The Month. That madness ends right here right now with this Capps Shoshone c. 1911 and a classic pattern by any standard. This blanket has been in my personal collection for years and that's where it's staying!
May 2008 brings me yet another opportunity to showcase my non-existent photography skills AND my tiny kitchen by presenting both sides of Oregon City's most famous blanket...the Happy Hunting Ground. Look closely in the design for the kitchen sink since everything else is included.
It's high time to feature an exceptional Oregon City Woolen Mills blanket and here's a beautiful banded shawl in as-new condition c. 1915 for April. My girlfriend will be delighted that the top of her lovely noggin makes an appearance in the first photo. She ducked for cover on the second to avoid all the blanket paparazzi that follow us everywhere.
February 2008 showcases a magnificent shawl - one of my favorite Racine patterns in a screaming bubble gum pink with forest green fringe. It's a hundred years old and the condition is absolutely flawless. An Indian woman wearing this would have been visible not only to her immediate tribe, but to tribes on other planets. The circle visible in the first picture is on the camera lens, not the blanket. If you're bored why not write an amusing caption in it?
March 2008 already and here's a blanket from one of the lesser known mills that occasionally made Indian blankets - the Portland Woolen Mills which manufactured not in Portland, but rather St. Johns, Oregon and began production in 1904. Like the December 2007 Racine below this blanket incorporates the swastika in the design - a symbol that always guarantees a trade or camp blanket was made before America entered World War II.
Time for a history lesson. The swastika has been used for thousands of years and even predates the ancient Egyptian symbol the Ankh.
The swastika was widely used in many cultures including those of ancient Troy, Tibet, China, India, Japan and southern Europe. The "twisted cross" even adorns Mayan temples. The word comes from the Sanskrit svastika - "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika represented abundance and prosperity - depending on the cultural group it symbolized life, sun, power, strength, good luck and the four cardinal
To Hindus, it is a symbol of the sun and its rotation.
Buddhists consider it a diagram of the footprints of Buddha. Among the
Jainas of India, the emblem is a reminder of the four possible places
of rebirth: in the animal or plant world, in Hell, on Earth or in the
spirit world. The swastika's meaning to the Hopi people has been described as a depiction of
the migration routes Hopi clans took through North and South America.
Until the Nazis adopted the symbol the swastika was widely used on all manner of items including cigarette and calling card cases, watch fobs, poker chips, coins, signs, postcards and even in American company names like the Swastika Cement Company. The symbol was popular as a good luck charm with early aviators - a swastika was painted on the inside of the nosecone of the Spirit of St. Louis. Swastikas are carved into the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia
Museum of Art and many historic movie theaters and hotels - there was a Swastika Hotel in Raton, New Mexico. During World War I the swastika decorated the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division. The symbol is often referred to as "whirling logs" or "rolling logs" in modern descriptions of pre-World War II American Indian items. Native Americans used the symbol on jewelry, souvenir spoons, basketry, rugs, etc.
1940, in response to Hitler's regime, the Navajo, Papago, Apache and
Hopi people signed an anti-whirling log proclamation. It read, "Because the
above ornament, which has been a symbol of friendship among our
forefathers for many centuries, has been desecrated recently by another
nation of peoples, therefore it is resolved that henceforth from this
date on and forever more our tribes renounce the use of the emblem
commonly known today as the swastika . . . on our blankets, baskets,
art objects, sand paintings and clothing."
I see my time is up so without further delay here's the Portland Woolen Mills blanket...a wonderland of weft and warp.
We're starting 2008 with a classic round corner Pendleton. The company produced round corner blankets from 1896 through 1908 and they are highly prized by collectors. The colors are outstanding in this example.
December 2007's Blanket Of The Month is an extraordinary Racine pictorial shawl. This blanket has a history of being in one Indian family's hands for well over a hundred years and originally belonged to a female cousin of Chief Joseph's. As this blanket dates to the period when Joseph was still alive, I have no doubt whatsoever he saw this blanket being worn.
Both sides of a unique Racine Woolen Mills shawl manufactured for the Indian trade about 1900. Polka dots - who'd have thunk it?