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The Hudson's Bay Point Blanket is a beautiful nod to the past, reflecting the rich history of early colonial North America and the trading system by which colonists and the British acquired beaver pelts. Such blankets were made by the British and early North American citizens and traded at trading posts to the Native Americans in exchange for furs. The blankets were and still are 100% wool, and were graded on a point system. Larger and thicker blankets were worth more points, but not necessarily more furs as is commonly believed.
A point system was first used in France in order to rate the size of blankets. This system began in France in the 18th century. One could tell points by the black lines woven on the sides of the blankets. A single point blanket would have a line that was 4 to 5.5 inches (10.16 to 13.97 cm) in length. Additional lines would mean the blanket had additional point values. Sometimes blankets had half point values, which would be indicated by lines about half the length of the standard line.
Traditionally, a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket was white with various striping. Common colors used included green, red, yellow, and dark blue. Various patterns and stripes came in and out of style. The main distinguishing feature was the point system, the use of wool, and the fact that not only Native Americans, but also many colonists used the blankets especially as bed covering, or for extra warmth as a wrap.
The point system today on a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket tends to correspond to bed sizes. Moreover, the blankets are still manufactured today in many parts of England. Yet king and queen sized blankets weren't introduced until well into the 20th century. A queen sized blanket today is six points, and a king sized is eight points.
Old blankets are highly valued, especially if they are in good shape. An old Hudson's Bay Point Blanket can fetch several hundreds to even thousand of US Dollars at antique shops or auctions. New blankets are available from the Hudson's Bay Company stores, but they can also be ordered online. Prices are significant.
Most blankets require care in washing and cannot be machine-washed. The exception to this is the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket made for infants. It is machine washable, and less expensive than the twin sized. Throws that are a little smaller in size than a twin bed blanket are also available.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the historical significance of the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket?
The Hudson's Bay Point Blanket holds a significant place in North American history. Introduced by the Hudson's Bay Company in the late 18th century, these blankets were traded with Indigenous peoples in Canada for beaver pelts and other goods. The point system, a series of stripes on the blanket's edge, indicated its size and value, making trade easier. These blankets are a symbol of Canadian heritage and colonial trade practices.
How are the points on a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket used to determine its size?
The points on a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket are a series of short lines woven into the side of each blanket. Historically, the number of points indicated the finished size of the blanket and therefore its value in trade. For example, a blanket with four points was larger and more valuable than one with two points. This system allowed for quick and easy valuation during trading with Indigenous peoples.
What materials are used to make Hudson's Bay Point Blankets, and how does this affect their quality?
Hudson's Bay Point Blankets are made from 100% wool, which contributes to their durability, warmth, and moisture-wicking properties. Wool's natural fibers provide insulation even when wet, making these blankets highly prized for their quality and longevity. The craftsmanship involved in creating these blankets ensures they can withstand the test of time, often becoming heirlooms passed down through generations.
Are Hudson's Bay Point Blankets still produced today, and if so, how have they evolved?
Yes, Hudson's Bay Point Blankets are still produced today, and they remain largely faithful to their original design. However, contemporary production has seen the introduction of new colors and collaborations with modern designers, expanding their appeal. Despite these updates, the blankets retain the iconic point system and are still made from high-quality wool, preserving the tradition and functionality that have made them a timeless piece of Canadian heritage.
Where can I purchase an authentic Hudson's Bay Point Blanket, and what should I look for to ensure its authenticity?
Authentic Hudson's Bay Point Blankets can be purchased directly from the Hudson's Bay Company, through their official website or physical retail stores. To ensure authenticity, look for the distinctive points on the edge of the blanket, the label that reads "Hudson's Bay Company," and the quality of the wool. Additionally, genuine blankets come with documentation detailing their history and care instructions, further affirming their authenticity.