The Genuine Hudson's Bay Point Blanket

The outstanding craftsmanship, luxurious texture, superior warmth and long lasting beauty of its colours have madeThe World's Finest Blanket the Hudson's Bay "Point" Blanket the standard of excellence for the entire world for over 200 years.

This reputation for quality has inspired many imitations.  Even the distinctive "Point" marks have been copied in the efforts of others to appear the same.  The genuine blanket is sold only under the name "Hudson's Bay 'Point' Blanket", and bears the Hudson's Bay Seal of Quality.

None of the many imitations are made to the same standards or by the same mills as those which make Hudson's Bay "Point" Blankets.

But the Hudson's Bay "Point" Blanket is much more than a superb virgin wool blanket.  It also has a unique place in the traditions and pioneer history of Canada.

Historical

The Hudson's Bay Company was chartered by King Charles II of England in 1670.  This Royal Charter granted rights to "sole trade and commerce" in a vast wilderness, comprising almost 40%HM King Charles II  (1660 - 85 AD) of what is now Canada

As the Company pursued the lucrative fur trade with the Native population of this domain, its employees and adventurers explored and established forts and settlements, opening the way for the eventual birth of a nation.

One of the trading commodities most highly prized by the Indians in exchange for their beaver pelts, was the original Hudson's Bay "Point" Blanket.

The earliest mention of Hudson's Bay "Point" Blankets is contained in the Minutes of a meeting of the Hudson's Bay Company's London Committee on 16th December 1779, but there is little doubt that they were an article of trade before this date.

A letter of 1780 to the committee states that: "...the "Points" are known to every Indian as the price to be paid for each as 2½ points - 2½ beaver, 3 points - 3 beaver, etc."

Hudson's Bay Four-Point blanketHudson's Bay "Point" Blankets were used twice by Admiral Byrd's expeditions to the Antarctic; early Mount Everest expeditions depended on them, and Colonel and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh wore "Point" blanket coats on their flight to Europe by way of Greenland and Iceland.

"Point" blankets and "Point" blanket coats were prized for their warmth and durability by prospectors and miners during the gold rush days of the Klondike and Yukon.

They have been used in emergencies by Inuit and Eskimos as kayak sails, and to wash the gold out of river gravel by excited prospectors.

One Hudson's Bay point blanket was used in a Canadian home for over 50 years after being salvaged from a wreck on Lake Superior and spending several years underwater!

Standard Colours

Coloured blankets were introduced in response to customer demand.  Both Indians and voyageurs demanded exceptionally pure, bright colours of scarlet, green and blue.  The predominantly white multistripe blankets were popular for winter, as they allowed the hunter to approach his prey unseen.

The original four brilliant colours introduced nearly two centuries ago for use in the fur trade, are still available today.

Pastels in glowing tones are the off-spring of the grand old standard colours.  They have been adapted in colour to meet the demands and colour schemes of the modern home.  Into these beautiful blankets goes all the thought and skill that had made the standard blankets famous for generations.  Like wedding silver, they will become prized and useful heirlooms.

Blanket Coats

 The French Canadian voyageurs adapted much of the Indian dress and so the "Point" blanket coat or "capote", came to be worn almost universally in the early days of the fur trade.  At one time it was possible to determine the home of a voyageur by the colour of his blanket coat - those from the Montréal district wearing blue coats, those from Québec, red, and from Trois Rivières, multistripe.

Since then, they have grown steadily in popularity because they are as fashionable as they are comfortable for sports and casual wear.  Hudson's Bay "Point" Blanket coats are the ideal Fall and Winter sports apparel for spectators and participants.

In recent times they have been worn as uniform coats by Canadian athletes at the Winter Olympics  as a distinctly Canadian attire.

Manufacture

The wool from which both the blankets and blanket coats are made is a blend of selected varieties from several parts of the world.  Each type possesses certain useful characteristics which, with the distinctive method of manufacture, produce the quality which has made Hudson's Bay "Point" Blankets standard for the world

Uniformity is assured by weavers who inherit a tradition of skilled workmanship.

Various dyeing operations take place during the manufacture of the blankets, depending upon the shade which has been produced.  The highest degrees of experience and skill are called for in this respect and some of the experts in this phase of manufacture have been dyeing Hudson's Bay Point blankets for over half a century.

When first woven, the blanket is one-half wider then the finished article and by a special process of milling it is shrunk to the required size.  This milling prevents further shrinkage.  The nap is raised and combed after shrinking, while the blankets are still wet, thus ensuring the fibres of wool are pulled up with the minimum of breakage.  Further hand brushing produces a glossy, furlike surface that resists snow or rain remarkably well.

Still regular articles of trade in the northern stores of the Hudson's Bay Company they bring cheer, comfort and warmth to the people of the north to meet the rigorous climate of arctic Canada.

In summer camp and cottage, on canoe trips or in mining and prospecting camps, they have proved themselves to be the ideal blankets - warm, colourful blankets that will keep out dampness and last more than a lifetime.

In your home, you will take pride for years to come, in their warmth, comfort and beauty, as well as the colourful heritage they represent."

Above information included with Hudson's Bay "Point" Blankets.



From the City of Edmonton's website


" The earliest recorded transaction concerning Hudson's Bay point blankets is dated 22 December, 1797, in which a notation is made of an order for one hundred pairs of each of five sorts of point blankets. It is likely, however, that blankets were included in the first cargoes of the Company's trading vessels. In fact, the earliest reference to blankets is in 1681, when an agent was commissioned by the company to obtain blankets. 45 pairs of blankets were sent out by Thomas Empson of Witney, Oxfordshire, who supplied the company with the majority of the blankets. His family continued to supply blankets until 1805.

Thomas Empson made the first point blankets in 1780. 100 pairs each of 1, 1-½, 2, 2-½, and 3 point blankets were delivered. In a letter dated 1780 to the London Committee, Thomas Hutchins, Chief of Albany Fort, wrote that the Committee "...had misunderstood him about the price of the pointed blankets as the points were known to every Indian to be the price to be paid for each as 2-½ points, 2-½ beavers; 3 points, 3 beavers, etc". In fact, it was not until 1850 that the points on the blankets took a standardized form. Prior to that date, blankets made for the Hudson's Bay Company were made with the bar only by individual producers, each one adding a distinctive mark, a point, to show size and weight. These points were usually in coloured wool, about one inch long. The standard colours were caramel, white, green, red and multi-striped. As a distinguishing mark which would be easily recognized, a wide indigo-blue band was woven across each end of the blankets. This band varied from two to five and a half inches in width according to the size of the blanket."


 

First offered for trade in 1670, Point blankets were so highly prized by Native Americans that they became important articles of trade - each short line or "point" woven into the edge of the blanket indicated the number of beaver pelts to be exchanged of the blanket. Today, points are still woven into the blankets as an historical reference and to indicate the size of the blanket. Woven in England of select wools, these blankets are made to the exact specifications as they were over 300 years ago - through a blend of old world process and modern technology.