Thursday, April 28, 2005

Snow, Again

I'm in a cold frame of mind.  It snowed here yesterday.  If I wasn't so cold, I'm sure I'd see the humor in the fact that I wore winter gloves yesterday to mow my lawn.  It was 80 degrees here two weeks ago, which makes this all particularly cruel.

Seeing as how I had to haul out my winter blanket last night (can you even believe it?)......and its pretty common for people of old houses to ask what people would have used on beds in a Bungalow (or older)........I thought I'd write about Hudson Bay Point Blankets.

The Hudson Bay Company was chartered by King Charles II of England in 1670.  The company finangled the right to exclusive (fur, etc.) trade in Canada.  The company discovered that the native Indians prized the company's point blankets and would trade them for beaver pelts.  The points (or stripes on the blanket) indicate the 1780's price to be paid in beaver pelts....and today the size.  (note: the info. regarding the bever pelts is taken from HB materials that comes with each blanket, although I note the HB online FAQ sheet says the bever pelt story is false.  Seems the company needs to get their story straight :-)  The original colors of scarlet, green and blue were introduced to meet requests by the Native Americans and voyageurs for bright colors.  The white background allowed them to be used in hunting in winter without scaring away to prey.  The history is much more detailed than the basics I cover here.

You will find the blankets in a variety of museums.  Admiral Byrd's expeditions to Antartica and Mount Everest included point blankets.  Charles Lidbergh wore a point blanket coat on his flight to Europe.  Gold miners used them during the Klondike gold rush.  Blankets have been salvaged from wrecks on Lake Superior.

The blankets are made from wool and processed in a way thaat causes the woven wool to shrink to a very tight weave and then the nap is hand brushed.

My grandparents had Hudson Bay blankets in their 1920-30 house.  My father remembers my grandfather buying a blanket for a hunting trip and ultimately the family log cabin.  I love the history and I love how they look on almost any type of furniture.  I discovered a site that has some other family blanket stories....and where you can add your own story.

LL Bean has been selling the blankets since the early 1920s.  Woolrich also is licensed to sell the blankets in their stores.  The blankets aren't cheap....but will literally last 100 years (and possibly a few years at the bottom of Lake Superior).  The Hudson Bay Company has a very helpful FAQ for owners and collectors.

Ok, off I got to get a nice steamy latte.........

1 comment:

jmm922 said...

I love those blankets- I want one!

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