John Bradford Moore and the Crystal Trading Post

John Bradford Moore and the Crystal Trading Post

In 1896, Texas-born John Bradford Moore, the former mayor of Sheridan, Wyoming, purchased the seasonal trading post at Narbona Pass in New Mexico. He erected a permanent log building and established the Crystal Trading Post.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Moore’s post was flourishing, particularly in the sale of Navajo weavings. Like other trading post operators, Moore saw the value in adapting his product to meet the needs and desires of his eastern customers. Thus, rather than producing Navajo blankets meant to be worn, Moore’s weavers wove rugs meant to be used on the floor. He thus used quality wool and employed only highly skilled native weavers (though he apparently paid them little).

Beyond changing the function of the weavings he sold, Moore further modified them by blending traditional Navajo design motifs with those already known to non-native customers, most importantly, designs inspired by oriental rugs, which were booming in popularity. His weavers incorporated borders and central medallions into their weavings, giving way to popular patterns such as Crystal, Storm, and Two Grey Hills.

The Crystal Trading Post acted as an important mediary between east and southwest, not only from a design perspective, but also from a sales and marketing perspective. In 1903, Moore published his first mail-order catalog, thus allowing easterners to purchase his Navajo weavings without the necessity of traveling to the reservation. His second catalog, published in 1911, was larger, and included far more weavings that blended Navajo and oriental rug designs.

Shortly after publishing his second catalog, Moore left Crystal, and sold the post to his manager Jesse Molohon, and the Crystal Trading Post continued to market oriental rug-inspired Navajo rugs into the 1930s.

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