Fred Harvey Era Jewelry
The number of tourists visiting the Southwest by train grew considerably from the late 1800s through about 1930. In 1876, Fred Harvey (1835–1901) struck a deal with Charles Morse at the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad company, permitting Harvey to establish eating houses along the railroad lines, free of charge. At these "Harvey Houses” wealthy and middle-class Anglo tourists would stop for a rest, delicious food, and "a bit of civilization" as they traveled deeper into the west.
The Harvey Company continually expanded, adding hotels, side trips from the train stations to visit Native villages called "Indian Detours" and gift shops. One of the more popular curios that tourists purchased in the gift shops and from vendors on the trains and in the stations, was what we now refer to as "Fred Harvey era" or "Railroad" jewelry.
Fred Harvey era jewelry is easily recognized by its light weight and its mass-produced look with standardized design elements. Most pieces are made of sheet silver, with standardized designs on applique and stamps. These designs or symbols were not necessarily created by American Indians; many were invented by the traders and manufacturers themselves as their ideas of who American Indians were. The symbols were given "meanings" which helped to sell the romance and mystery of the Southwest and its original inhabitants, and the awed tourists purchased this jewelry in great quantities.