Period Blankets: questions, answers, and more questions

One point of interest I’ve been wrestling with for the past year or so, has been getting a period correct blanket.  I’ve done a fair amount of research, but as with many things, there is SO much more than what meets the eye when you really start to dive into what’s PC and what’s not.  Much like many aspects to historical research, the more you find out, the more questions arise!  To try and help clear things up a bit, I called up the esteemed blanket historian and hand-weaver Robert Stone.  Here is a collection of notes that I scribbled while talking to him on the phone regarding what correct, what’s not, and what options are out there…

  • Blankets were imported in heavy numbers, but also made domestically
  • 60″-65″ wide domestic (30″-32″ with seams)
  • Common Rev War issue was 3 point size for U.S. 3 1/2 point size for Brits
  • Plain white blanket possible not a common import, but common domestic manufacture (with center seam)
  • No domestic, seamed “point” blanket
  • White blanket with black stripes found in well in Williamsburg
  • Probably no Scottish plaid
  • Probably no Buffalo plaid
  • White and dark check pattern somewhat common (3/4″ – 1″ check against white background)
  • English and Dutch blankets commonly imported
  • Dutch blanket found in Connecticut is kersey twill
  • Common styles:Point,Rose,Duffel,British Army (slightly heavier and larger than duffel)
  • Rose and Duffel blankets were imported from England
  • Rose blankets were cut in England and embroidered in England
  • Duffel blankets were usually white with red or blue stripes on the ends.  Wide stripe with two or three narrow (about 1″) stripes on either side of wide stripe.  They had unbound ends and were sometimes sold in pairs.  Meaning: manufactured in England and imported as several full blankets connected as a solid piece almost like a bolt of fabric.  They were then cut and sold domestically.  Hence the unbound ends, and the ability to be sold in “pairs” (end to end/double long, not double wide).
  • Pre 1890’s Point Blankets had no label

This is a GENEROUS wealth of knowledge from one of the most learned and respected people on the subject.  I thanked him graciously for being so forthcoming with his knowledge.  Of course all of this info only added to my unanswered questions, ha!  He said to scour period artwork and probate inventories for descriptions of blankets.  Also, Textiles in America, 1650-1870 by Florence M. Montgomery is a good place to look for descriptions of materials.  He also mentioned a museum in Fort Worth that contains a French blanket from the 1600’s, but I haven’t had much luck tracking that down yet.  He also said he is ready and willing to produce any type of blanket that I wish (should I choose to go that route), and told me to contact him whenever.  He can be emailed at robstoneweaver@comcast.net any time.  A word of warning though… his blankets may be the best investment in our hobby (2nd only to a rifle), but be prepared to pay for them!!  Someday I’ll own one, but for now, I’m looking for less expensive routes.  :-)

Here is a good writeup about period blankets: http://revwar75.com/library/rees/variety.htm

Here is a supplier of Rob Stone handwoven blankets: http://www.highhorsetrading.com/

Here is a good writeup about Dutch blankets (these are also made by Mr. Stone): http://ofsortsforprovincials.blogspot.com/2011/05/dutch-blankets.html

Soooo, this brings me to my question…

A while back, I won an auction on eBay for an early 1900’s(?) blanket.  More or less 3-point size, two panel, white with red stripes, and very much in the style of an 18th century “duffel” blanket (except it has two panels).  The only thing is that the ends are bound/blanket stitched with red yarn.  On the one hand, the binding looks good, and “fits” the blanket well.  On the other, it’s kind of glaring me in the face, and I’m not sure how correct it is.  In the course of writing this email, I may have self-talked my way through the problem, but I’ll continue anyway!  :-)  I have been comparing this to a duffel blanket because of the size, colors, stripes, and thickness (or thinness as the case may be).  In doing so, I have been cursing the hemmed ends because original duffels weren’t bound.  BUT there-in lies the problem.  This particular blanket is most definitely and obviously NOT a duffel blanket because it is domestically produced and center seamed!  Duh!  (of course it’s also from an entirely different century, but that’s besides the case, haha).  I had considered removing the blanket stitching, but feared that it may cause the center seam to unravel.  Perhaps I’ll stop trying to “make” this a duffel blanket, and just use it for what it is… a domestically produced, center seam blanket, with stripes and patterns that are common to the period.  I guess the big question that I forgot to ask Mr. Stone is whether or not domestically produced blankets typically had bound edges…

What say YOU???

-Curtis

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