Mailing List:2002-08-19 12, Re: Whitney blankets, by William G. Whitney

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Mailing List Archives > 2002-08-19 12, Re: Whitney blankets, by William G. Whitney

From: "Bill Whitney" <wwhitney -at-> Subject: Re: [WHITNEY-L] Whitney blankets Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 22:25:00 -0600 References: <> <004101c24785$1b12e200$f20e55d8@Kaosrus> The Witney blanket is actually named after the town of WITNEY, in Oxfordshire county, England. As far as I can determine from actually visiting the town and purchasing some of their famous blankets, there is no connection between the name of the town and the Whitney family. There are intriguing "links" to the Whitney name of course, in that the name of the town was possibly named after Witta's island (Witta being a famous chieftan) and this sounds just like a possible reason for the Whitney name. But this is not proof of a connection. Their town history book also reaffirns this fact, in a negative way, by not mentioning any connection. The famous WITNEY blanket goes back a long way. The Witney town history states that wool was important here since the 12th century. King Henry III was said to have bought clothes in Witney in 1221, so they must have become quite good at the job by then. The blankets were traded to the natives in Canada during the fur trade and they greatly valued the thick wool, which they sewed into robes or just wore as blankets. The company manufactured both duffel blankets and point blankets and the duffel version was very pooppular with the natives. The traders themselves cut them up and tailored them into handsome coats. They became called "Hudson's Bay Blankets" after a while and are still called that today. But having seen the original and what is now sold as "Hudson's Bay Blankets" in Canada, I can tell you that the imitation is a very poor shadow of the original. These blankets, when made in white with coloured stripes became famous in stories and paintings of the fur trade. Actually the wool was an offwhite, yellowish colour and the stripes were in green, yellow, red and black (actually indigo). Because of this long running trade, the company started putting an Indian Chief logo on their blankets, I don't know when it started. That is how to recognise the original blanket today from the cheap imitations. The original blankets are not cheap but they will last a long long time if cared for. The original blankets come in several weights and each grade in indicated by dark bars sewn into the side of the blankets. The bars are dotted lines about 5 inches long and spaced every inch or so, and are called "points" So, an eight point WITNEY blanket is the ultimate heavy weight wool blanket, the lighter weights being 6 point, 4 point, etc. The company that we bought the blankets from was called R.N. Peace and Company, 103 High Street, Witney, Oxon, telephone (0993) 2434 and they probably have a different phone number today. W.G. Whitney ----- Original Message ----- From: "Whitney Price" <kaosrus -at-> To: <WHITNEY-L -at-> Sent: Monday, August 19, 2002 7:34 AM Subject: [WHITNEY-L] Whitney blankets > I have a wool Whitney blanket that my grandmother brought back from England > in the 1950s in deference to our Whitney line (back to John and Elinor). > The company is in Herefordshire, if I recall (I just looked for the blanket > to confirm and can't find it!). The town is ALL ABOUT blankets--real > company town. The company has been making blankets since I think the 17th > century and is the oldest continually-in-business blanket company in the > world. Its success is attributed to the river (Wye?) and its water. My > blanket is waffle-weaved and has satin binding, but Whitney also made trade > blankets ala' Pendleton Hudson Bay. Whitney blankets are still hot with the > re-enactment crowds because it would be a brand authentic to earlier > centuries. There is a website that explains the history (and you can find > all the mistakes in my email!) if you search on "whitney blanket"--you'll > also get many re-enactors' sites. You can also search the town in England > where they are made (once you figure that out! Dang--where IS that > blanket?) and read all about the history. > > Whitney Price (namesake ggg-mother Mary Fletcher Whitney--any cousins out > there?) > Tulsa, OK, USA > >

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