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The Legend of Black Diamond

At the turn of the 20th century, "Black Diamond" commonly referred to something "rare, exotic & of high quality".

In 1911 a bull bison, formerly of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, named Black Diamond became the most celebrated animal of his time when he was sketched as the model for a new five-cent coin by artist James Earle Fraser.

American Bison Black Diamond Central Park Zoo New York City 

Fraser wanted to create a design that was uniquely American and also showcase the native beauty of the expanding West.  He believed that the great herds of bison that roamed the plains played an important role in the the opening of the West and would make an ideal symbol for the new coin.

With his image officially stamped onto one side of the 1913 "Buffalo Nickel", our company namesake became a true icon of the American West.

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Westward. Ever Westward.

We’ve always been inspired by the West and the epic tales & people that shaped it. From pioneers & artists to adventurers & outlaws, the West has always been wild.

This is some of the Southwest folklore that helped spark Black Diamond Curio.

Georgia O’Keeffe - American Modernist & Minimalist

She arrived in New Mexico in the 1920’s, far away from the hustle and bustle of New York City and left inspired to set off on a new direction with her art.  

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe at her New Mexico home

Twenty years later, she moved to the Southwest permanently, living by her own rules and honing her distinct personal style.

Her New Mexico homes were often backdrops in her paintings and reflected her sparse yet lived-in modern design aesthetic. 

A celebrated modernist in her public life, and the ultimate minimalist at home.

Fred Harvey - Inventing the Southwest Mystique

He’s a legend in the Southwest and changed the way people experienced and explored it.  Building a hospitality empire along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, Harvey helped tame the West for tourists.   

Early Fred Harvey Hotels Logo Emblem

His company created and built the Southwest brand by commissioning artists & photographers to depict the “romance and mystique” of the Southwest across brochures, menus and postcards all to woo and lure people West.

Fred Harvey Hotels of the Southwest Map

And last but not least, he popularized Southwestern Native jewelry sold through his chain of hotel curio shops and became the most successful distributor of souvenir goods, today known as Fred Harvey era jewelry.

Fred Harvey Hotel Curio Souvenir Shop

Route 66 - The Open Road

Route 66 represents American pop culture at its best.  It’s been immortalized and romanticized in movies, music and television and in its heyday became the family vacation route to the SouthRoute 66 Sign Blue Skieswest.

It’s the road where millions of travelers first experienced everything the west had to offer - adventure, freedom & optimism.  The definitive “open road” with the top down!

Today it’s a time capsule of a bygone era, stretching more than 2000 miles peppered with quirky Americana all the way through; so climb behind the wheel and motor west.

Trading Posts - The Original “Shop Local”

Trading Post Mercantile CustomerBack in the day, real Southwest trading posts dealt in local jewelry, rugs, pottery, and art.  They were not a place to find souvenirs made in other countries.

Maisels Trading Post 1940'sWhen you shopped there, you trusted that you were buying a handcrafted item only one step removed from the person who made it.

 

These trading posts burst with authentic goods and were places to learn about the silversmith, potter or weaver who made them.

Real things, made by real people.

 

 

 

Western Icons - From Cowboys to Kitsch

At the height of the Westerns craze in film & television, cowboys were big and the kitsch was even bigger.  From the Adventures of Kit Carson to the Lone Ranger, these heroes always delivered over-the-top adventure and along the way, ended up on lunch boxes, belt buckles, bed spreads and bandanas.

Adventures of Kit Carson TV guide ad 1950's

For some, they might be cheesy and tacky, but for us this slice of Americana is about retro fun, a sense of humor and an essential part of our design mix.  Think hand me downs, thrift stores, yard sales and treasure hunting.

Remember, one person’s kitsch is another’s amazing lamp table with SPURS.....Yippeeee!

 

 

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