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Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets Hardcover – January 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bulfinch; 1st edition (January 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821227580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821227589
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barry Friedman is the pioneer collector/dealer of Indian trade blankets and has bought and sold a staggering 26,000 vintage blankets in his 40 year career. Stories about Mr. Friedman have appeared in hundreds of publications ranging from USA Today and the Los Angeles Times to the Antique Trader and he's been profiled on TV programs such as "Good Morning America". He has lectured at many institutions including the Baltimore Museum of Art and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and was the first non-Indian ever invited to give the keynote address at the Pendleton Woolen Mills national sales meeting. In a previous life he was a Hollywood television comedy writer and received six Emmy nominations and wrote stand-up material for scores of comedians ranging from Johnny Carson to Jerry Seinfeld. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

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I don't know what the author's next book might be, but whatever he's selling I am buying!!!!!
Deborah Matsunaye
The Kapoun blanket collection obviously was acquired by the glass artist Dale Chihuly and the result was the book "Chihuly's Pendletons".
Carolyne Lassiter
I highly recommend this book for the pure joy of reading and understanding the history of a little known subject.
Tina Soderquist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Carolyne Lassiter on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's time a female voice chimed in on this amazing book. There is almost no point comparing previous works on Indian blankets with Barry Friedman's "Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets" because there is no comparison. This book trumps the competition on every level. If anything, it's almost too beautiful for its own good. The pictures of the blankets are so dazzling that I fear people will just see it as a colorful adornment for a coffee table and neglect to read the text.
That would be a tragedy, because I wholeheartedly agree with the Amazon reviewer from San Francisco who proclaimed this the best book he has ever read on any collectible subject. I have NEVER read a book on antiques or collectibles written by an author with Friedman's combination of knowledge, enthusiasm and remarkable comic sensibility.
This is not to say he doesn't take his subject seriously. It's doubtful anyone takes it more seriously. The previous books on the subject read like Cliff's Notes compared to Friedman's penetrating portrait. So while I repeat that there is no comparison with earlier stabs at this topic, the differences must be mentioned to understand why this book is the new gold standard.
Robert W. Kapoun's worthy "Language Of The Robe: American Indian Trade Blankets" came out in 1992 and has been the reference in the field until now, but in the wake of Friedman's effort it is offically dethroned. Virtually all of the blankets Kapoun listed as manufacturer unknown in his book are conclusively identified here and Friedman offers histories of blanket manufacturers Kapoun doesn't even know existed.
The Kapoun blanket collection obviously was acquired by the glass artist Dale Chihuly and the result was the book "Chihuly's Pendletons".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Marsh on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
INCREDIBLE! This is not just the ultimate book on Indian blankets, but the best book I have ever read on any collectible subject. For starters, the book is beautiful - I need to upgrade my coffee table to show it off! The blankets are stunning and hundreds I�d kill to own are pictured. There are also some wonderful historical photographs including my favorite: two carny operators in a midway booth where blankets are the prizes.
If you�re a blanket collector, you�ll think you�ve died and gone to Heaven, but anyone interested in Native Americans or western history buffs will find this a critical addition to their library. The author�s view of history is panoramic. He discusses the end of the Indian Wars and the transition of the Navajo weavers from making wearing blankets to a new product invented by white traders � the Navajo rug � and the simultaneous rise of the commercial manufacturers to provide blankets for the Navajo and many other tribes throughout America.

Every manufacturer gets their own chapter and receives much fuller treatment than they have in any previous book. The trade blanket companies discussed are Pendleton, Capps, Oregon City, Buell, Racine, Knight and Shuler & Benninghofen. Not a word about the last two has been mentioned in previous books. The Knight story is especially interesting � the business was originally financed by Brigham Young! Cotton camp blanket manufacturers � Beacon and Esmond � are also covered in great depth. An additional chapter addresses a number of miscellaneous manufacturers and another provides the most complete information on labels and dating of blankets ever presented.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James K. Fox on January 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Who would have thought it possible? A veritable BIBLE on the history of Indian blankets, but written with wit and humor to accompany Friedman's expertise. The illustrations are true to the color of each blanket-no mean feat in the printing game! And they are SPLENDID! I know, I know...it helps to have such pulchritudinous subject matter, but the photos truly do justice to the beautiful blankets. There is no better source of information on this VERY American subject, and the book will easily win pride of place on your favorite coffee table. A PRICELESS COMPENDIUM by the maven of blanket lore. And Friedman has risen to the top of my wish list of dinner guests. I gotta MEET this guy!! He is HYSTERICAL!! A job VERY well done!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David E. Adler on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a magnificent book certain to be the definitive resource on the subject of Indian Trade and Camp Blankets. Barry Friedman has brought structure to a field heretofore unfocused and lacking the exhaustive research Mr. Friedman provides so impressively here. The illustrations are lush and generous. This is a remarkably handsome sourcebook for both serious collectors of Indian trade and camp blankets as well as the novice who will become inspired by their fascinating history. Mr. Friedman's writing style is not only authoritative, but sprinkled with humorous asides that make it read like a letter from your smartest and funniest friend.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martin Banning on February 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Two friends of mine bought this book and started quoting hilarious lines from it by heart. I laughed so hard they bought me a copy although I didn't know a thing about Indian blankets nor for that matter did I care. Now I do. Or maybe I don't and I'm just deluding myself because I found "Chasing Rainbows" so captivating. I don't collect anything except possibly dust and here I am utterly enchanted by a subject that I had never given a second thought in my life. It's not fair to categorize this book as just about Indian blankets. It's far more than that. It's about the Indian Wars, Navajo weaving, textile mills, drunk designers, shifty carny operators, the collecting mentality, antique dealers, the futility of price guides and above all it's about fun. It's a book of staggering beauty written with a unique comic twist NEVER found in coffee table format. Is there any other collecting book that has subtitles like "Moths I Have Known" or "This Portion Of The Book Tastes Like Chicken"?
I was so impressed with "Chasing Rainbows" that I drove 800 plus miles round trip to meet the author and have him sign my book at the Marin Indian Art Show in San Rafael, California. In person he was every bit as approachable, knowledgable and entertaining as his incredible book. I'll make this short and sweet - Barry Friedman is likely smarter than the rest of us, definitely funnier than the rest of us, unquestionably a far better writer than the rest of us and knows more about Indian blankets than all of us combined. Ladies and gentlemen, if you treasure books and consider them a necessity in your life, owning this book is mandatory.
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