From the time Native Americans began weaving with wool, the designs, colors, sizes, shapes and textures of their custom blankets have been in a constant state of evolution. This is something that makes them so desirable to collectors they change very quickly and become historically significant or datable, equally quickly.
The importance of the blanket in native Indian culture can not be over-estimated. Long before the advent of white settlers, they were used in exchange for other goods. Promotional blankets were given to celebrate births and marriages, to show status, as a shelter, clothing, and bed, to wrap babies or to cover the dead. Early Navajo weavings (pre 1900 are of remarkably high quality. Wool was smooth and silky and the weaver employed a high degree of skill and effort in cleaning, carding, combing, spinning and dying. Such is the popularity for Native American goods that these pieces rarely come on the market and when they do they fetch from $2000 $5000 at auction.
Pendleton was the first company to catch on to the marketability of the blanket and began mass-producing embroidered blankets in the Native American style from 1901. Native Americans who were living in reservations, and non-Indians who were attracted to the Indian-style, were the main customers. They were striking designs but were also light, warm and inexpensive and therefore extensively used. Because of this heavy usage, finding examples in good condition is not easy and prices reflect this.