Cre8ting With Station 8: A Brief History of The Hudson’s Bay Blanket
I love the internet, and not only for Pinterest… but also because anytime I want a little information on something interesting that has come into the shop it’s just a click away. Part of the intrigue of our business is that so many of the pieces we carry have a past life. Whether it’s a very fine antique piece, or something that has been repurposed, I’m always intrigued by the history of the things you can find in our shop. For example I overheard a conversation awhile back about a Hudson’s Bay blanket we currently have on display so I decided to look into it, and this is what I found…A very brief history of the Hudson’s Bay blanket.
The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded on May 2nd 1670. The original full name of the company is The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay. It played an impressive role in the urban development of western Canada, having fur trading posts from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and from St. Lawrence to the Arctic. The company itself has a long and varied history, not only in the fur trading industry, but it also has a history in the real estate business, and the oil business.
The Hudson’s Bay point blanket was first introduced into the fur trade in 1870. The concept of the points blanket was invented by the French in the middle of the 18th century. Each point is indicated by an indigo stripe of 4-5.5 inches long woven into the side of the blanket, with half points being half as long. It is used to identify the size of the finished blanket, not the amount of furs to be traded for it as is commonly believed. The company started out with 500 pairs of blankets, 100 of each size starting at 1 point and graduating up by half points with the largest being 3 points. A pair of one point blankets measured at 2 feet, 8 inches wide by 8 feet long, and quickly became a very popular item among the native tribes.
The most common colors are the white blanket with the stripes of green, red, yellow, and indigo (what most people think of when they think of Hudson’s Bay). They were also made in solid colors of indigo, scarlet, green and light blue. In 1929 they made a line of pastel tones, with darker tone-on-tone bars. In the 1930’s they added imperial tones to meet the needs of modern interior design schemes. All the wool for these blankets is a blend of varieties from England and New Zealand. They are designed to be warm, soft, and water-resistant.
These blankets are a time-honored tradition of the oldest company in North America, and are still produced today. I’m so excited to have an authentic piece of this company’s history in our store! Come in and take a look.
On Behalf of Team 8