Indian Trade Silver is a company run by re-enactors. This site makes a large variety of trade silver and other items available to re-enactors and everyone who appreciates it's simplistic beauty.
Most of us have been involved with the many facets of historical re-enacting for over 20 years, including traditional Native, French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and Buckskinner historical periods. After a hiatus, we've been urged by our many friends and customers to re-enter the game and start designing and manufacturing our pieces for sale once again.
Formerly known only in the northeast, we've decided to open our doors to the rest of the United States and Canada to offer you some of the most beautiful, historically correct, and accurate trade silver pieces you will see on the market today at an amazing price!
Please take some time to browse and enjoy our site. E-mail us with any questions you may have, and be sure to sign up for our membership to take advantage of any pre-release product offers, discounts, and special offers. Dealer and wholesaler inquiries welcomed.
A Quick History of Trade Silver
During the early 17th century, as settlers began to interact with the Native inhabitants of North America, it was customary for the visitors to present gifts to the Sachems and other influential tribal members at the time of the meeting or negotiations. Initially, these gifts were "peace medals", or gorgets, made of silver, which were meant to insure the alliance and friendship of the particular tribe to the visitors political affiliation.
Items made of silver quickly became quite popular among among the Natives, and led to the development of what is commonly known as Indian Trade Silver. These pieces of trade silver were formed, cut and incised into brooches, earrings, gorgets, etc. from silver sheets. The silver was obtained by any means possible; from flat sheets of silver reclaimed from items such as teapots and chalices, to flattening out Spanish "pieces of eight" to get the base material. Originally these pieces were produced in Europe, but the manufacture eventually moved to the new world because of the required shipping time.
The wearing of trade silver became wildly popular among the Native tribes. The amount of trade silver worn by an individual represented his or her stature and wealth within the tribe.
Settlers used trade silver to barter for furs, especially that of the beaver, which was used to make hats in Europe which were all in fashion there at the time.
As the demand for beaver pelts dwindled in the early 19th century, the supply of readily available trade silver dwindled as well. However, the tradition lived on with the Native tribes. One can look at the contemporary southwestern tribes' silver and turquoise jewelry to see the style which took root in the early silver trade.
Advantages of German Silver for Trade Silver
The lower cost of the base material allows a thicker gauge metal to be used. Most providers of sterling silver base reproduction trade silver goods use a 22 gauge, or .025" thickness stock. The pieces shown on this site all start from a 21 gauge, or .032" stock. This allows for a thicker, more durable and authentic product.
German silver resists tarnishing. Sterling silver tarnishes rapidly and requires frequent polishing.
The use of German silver substantially reduces the cost of the final product to you, while retaining the look and feel of the original pieces.
German silver is also a much harder metal with high tensile strength.
It is not as easily damaged as sterling pieces.
The use of German silver allows the pieces to be made to the size of the original pieces, not shrunken down to save costs.
The visual difference of German versus sterling silver is very hard to distinguish. These pieces have the same care in craftsmanship, if not more, of any other pieces on the market today.
Indian Trade Silver is Not Native Owned
In compliance with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, we state that these products are not produced, or marketed by Native, or American Indians. We are not affiliated with any tribe or any federally recognized Native American organization. The name of the business and site is used solely in the description of the style of product, and in no way is meant to suggest that these products are made by Native, or, American Indians.