Trading Post Times
. A L
Great beadwork flourished in
the nineteenth century, particu-
larly among the Sioux, Chey-
enne, Nez Perce, Ojibwa and
Purses, moccasins, saddle blan-
kets, dresses, leggings and shirts
were adorned with the magnifi-
cent trade beads introduced by
Europeans, and painstakingly
portrayed in age old tribal de-
Today, you have to reach back
across time to find truly great
American Indian beadwork.
Certainly there are contempo-
rary beadwork artists, but their
work simply does not match the
feel, the color, or the boldness
of work past.
Given the intense labor in-
volved in these special crea-
tions, one can understand why
the great era of beadwork has
As the rarity of classic bead-
work increases, so does its col-
Today, the price of great bead-
work is beyond the reach of
most people. At River Trading
Post we search far and wide to
find great old pieces that are
within the reach of many col-
Visit our galleries, or our web-
site to see our beadwork collec-
Images Left: 19th century Sioux
Above: Turn of century Nez Perce
Over the years, most of the people we meet are wonderful, and we enjoy visiting with, and doing business with, most everyone. Occasion-
ally, however, we run into some pretty shady characters.
There was the artist who left our gallery with a customer, to sell his art out of his trunk, “for a better price,” and then there was the creepy-
looking guy coming in trying to sell burial artifacts.
The folks who have come in, seen a sculpture or a pot, spent an hour asking about the artist, the material, and the process, and then asked
us for the artist’s contact information so they can buy direct (for a better price) have numbered in the hundreds.
And yet, as aggravating as that can be, we always try to keep our humor – and be polite.
We frequently invite artists to sell their own work and retain the proceeds from their sales, and we sometimes invite other quality dealers to
do special exhibits in our galleries. Thankfully, most artists and dealers we have hosted have treated us – and our visitors -- fairly, and hon-
Recently we experienced what we consider a lapse in integrity. We invited someone to exhibit work in our place for the very first time. We
advertised and promoted the event, provided food and wine for the opening, and reworked our entire gallery to showcase the exhibit. The
show was beautiful, and we drew hundreds of visitors.
All was going well until the show came to a close. Apparently, our guest contacted some of our customers and offered them items that had
not sold at the show -- at prices far below fair market value. The
exact same customers
to whom, just hours earlier, he insisted on the integrity
and firmness of the posted prices.
We pride ourselves in holding the highest ethical standards by treating our valued customers, our artist friends, and our fellow dealers in a
fair and square way, and we subscribe to all the standards set forth by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA) and the Antique
Tribal Arts Dealers Association (ATADA).
Sadly, artists, dealers and collectors who take advantage of these kinds of “out of the trunk” offers don’t appear to understand that these
tactics simply devalue the art, not only for themselves, but for all of the people who create, appreciate and value one of America’s greatest
natural resources…American Indian art.