Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hudson's Bay Point Blankets

These cold winter nights have me wanting to cozy up our own little lodge here at Holtwood House. So, it's no wonder my eye has turned back to these woolen Hudson's Bay Point Blankets I've long eyed at my local flea. These durable, long lasting blankets can be found in so many colors, but the most common (and by far my favorite) is the green, red, yellow, indigo combination- sometimes known as "Queen Anne's colors". 

I love that they provide the warmth warranted in winter, but the bright and happy colors can wear happily into the spring and summer months. Their unfussy character also brings a little of the outdoors into the home setting, something I'm consistently working towards here at the ol' homestead.

So we know they are cool looking, but how 'bout a little history? During the 18th and 19th century, these blankets were produced by the Hudson's Bay Company and were used primarily as barter items in the fur trade with First Nations people throughout Canada. They were produced in different sizes and thus held varying value. To avoid having to unfold and measure them, a clever "point system" was developed whereby thin indigo lines were sewn into the side, allowing the traders to easily identify the blanket's grade and size- and consequent value for trade.  They were weaved in England using wool from Britain and New Zealand and then sold by the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada. 

The indigo lines are known as "points". The colorful bands on the blankets are known as "headings". 

Two hundred and fifty years later, they are still so stylish and fresh.  

These blankets have become very collectible. On my latest flea market escapade, I spotted so many color variations of the blanket, in varying levels of condition. Though labels offer some clues, for a novice admirer like myself, it can be tricky these days to understand the true worth of a vintage blanket when bargaining with sellers.  Thankfully, there are some online resources to help break down some of the facts and provide a little direction:

Though the vintage blankets obviously hold greater collectible value, Hudson's Bay Company also continues to produce new blankets. In the US, they are most readily available through Woolrich and LL Bean.  Previously used versions can also be found on ebay and Etsy.

Via 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

1 comment

My Notting Hill said...

These are great blankets. I'm also loving the bare plywood in that one room - really fits the setting.

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