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Object Lessons: The Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket

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Object Lessons: The Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket

November 15, 2016

Native Americans aren’t generally associated with sheep, especially not sheep dotted about the limestone villages of the English Cotswolds. Yet the Hudson’s Bay Point blanket owes its existence to both, with the Hudson’s Bay fur trading post in Canada acting as a halfway point between the two cultures. The 18th century Plains Indians valued the preshrunk and felted Cotswold wool blankets for their ability to retain heat and repel water, and used them for bedding and clothing. In exchange, the British received beaver pelts, much in demand for use in the construction of top hats.

The Hudson’s Bay point blanket, with its familiar off-white background and green, red, yellow, and blue stripes at either end, has remained exactly as it looked when it was known as the Chief’s Blanket. According to Hudson’s Bay Company, the colors don’t hold any special significance and were chosen simply because they were popular and used the most reliable colorfast dyes at the time. The black stitched lines, or “points,” at the top of each blanket have not changed either; they were the means by which a trader could gauge the size of a blanket without having to unfold it. The only real change is that the wool now comes from sheep grazing in Yorkshire; Hudson’s Bay Company continues to sell the blankets in Canada, and Woolrich holds the official license to sell them in America. Here are a few examples:

Object Lessons The Hudsons Bay Point Blanket The Egan House in Seattle. A similar Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay Multi Wool 6 Point Queen, 90 inches by \100 inches, is available for \$495 at Woolrich. Photograph by Michael A. Muller from Living in an Architectural Landmark, Seattle Edition.
Above: The Egan House in Seattle. A similar Hudson’s Bay Multi Wool 6 Point Queen, 90 inches by 100 inches, is available for $495 at Woolrich. Photograph by Michael A. Muller from Living in an Architectural Landmark, Seattle Edition.
Object Lessons The Hudsons Bay Point Blanket Over the years, colors have been introduced or taken away. This gray scale Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay Capote Throw is available for \$\165 from Woolrich.
Above: Over the years, colors have been introduced or taken away. This gray scale Hudson’s Bay Capote Throw is available for $165 from Woolrich.
Object Lessons The Hudsons Bay Point Blanket Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay blankets are often repurposed for cushions, curtains, and clothing, like this Hudson Bay Sofa, available for \$4,\200 from Sit & Read.
Above: Hudson’s Bay blankets are often repurposed for cushions, curtains, and clothing, like this Hudson Bay Sofa, available for $4,200 from Sit & Read.
Object Lessons The Hudsons Bay Point Blanket Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay Company continue to sell a large range of the traditional blankets in a variety of colors and styles. A fringed Caribou Throw, 4\2 inches by 70 inches, is available in navy for \$\137 at Hank&#8\2\17;s Clothing. (Note that Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay Company does not currently ship outside of Canada.)
Above: Hudson’s Bay Company continue to sell a large range of the traditional blankets in a variety of colors and styles. A fringed Caribou Throw, 42 inches by 70 inches, is available in navy for $137 at Hank’s Clothing. (Note that Hudson’s Bay Company does not currently ship outside of Canada.)
Object Lessons The Hudsons Bay Point Blanket You can source vintage Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay blankets along with furniture and pillows that integrate them into the design on Etsy. This Antique Hudson&#8\2\17;s Bay Blanket Pillow is \$78.
Above: You can source vintage Hudson’s Bay blankets along with furniture and pillows that integrate them into the design on Etsy. This Antique Hudson’s Bay Blanket Pillow is $78.

Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of essential everyday objects presented in the Remodelista book. Watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons on Lodge Cast Iron CookwarePastel Enamel Pots, and Humble Cotton Cleaning Cloth.

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 29, 2014.

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