Between 1890 and 1910, Navajo traders imported large quantities of commercial three and four ply wool yarn that was commercially spun and colored with aniline dyes. Because much of the material came from the mills in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the weavings made from the yarn were called “Germantowns.” The commercial, bright colored yarns created sharp designs that many traders liked and, by having the weavers use cotton string for the warps, the time it took to weave a rug dropped dramatically. Weavers no longer had to shear the sheep, card the wool, spin the wool and dye the wool. Some traders, like J.L. Hubbell at Ganado, gave his beginning weavers the new commercial yarns, but wanted his best weavers to use natural hand spun wool in order to be able to promote the weavings as “Authentic Indian Hand Made.”
Quality Germantown weavings are very collectible as they are all attributable to a very short time span over 100 years ago.