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Revolutionary period blankets

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Stophel

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I've been on a blanket kick lately, as I do from time to time. And I just felt like talking about them. :D Ran across this little collection of information about Revolutionary War army issued blankets.

http://revwar75.com/library/rees/variety.htm

While we know there were various colors of blankets (Even green and brown!), and checked patterns, the largest majority of 18th century blankets seem to have been white (or white-ish... whatever the natural wool color was), with stripes at either end. A single stripe, or sets of multiple stripes of blue, red, or black. Often with a series of red and blue stripes (From what I understand, Dutch blankets tend to be white with red and blue stripes). "Rose blankets", which were often huge, were white, sometimes with stripes, and with stars or rosettes coarsely embroidered in the corners. They also had "point blankets", very similar to the familiar type. White with blue (super dark blue), red, and possibly black stripes at each end. One known revolutionary war point blanket is shown in the link above (and it's spliced together!!! Or sure looks like it in the picture!). This awesome documentable blanket is white with very dark indigo blue stripes.

The problem today is, if you want a blanket that looks at least reasonably close (reasonably close is good enough, at least for me) to an 18th century blanket, rather than the common brown/gray/OD green surplus blankets we all know and love, there ain't much available. You can buy a fine hand-woven blanket, but they're not super cheap (but they can sure be nice! I would REALLY love one from Bull Mountain Weaving!!!). So, you go looking for a nice old blanket that's white with stripes at the ends.... which can be difficult to find. Even plain white blankets can be hard to come by. I will sometimes scour ebay and see what I can find... and on occasion, I get a winner.

I just got this one. A nice size (long enough to cover me... make sure you check the dimensions when you're shopping! A LOT of blankets are less than 6' long... most likely they've been improperly washed and dried, and have shrunk!), fairly dense and heavy, white with a narrow black stripe at each end. In pretty good shape, with only a few bug nibbles (no holes). I'm looking forward to packin' this sucker out into the woods!

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I also happened upon another just a while ago... kind of a holy grail blanket.... I'll show it when I get it. ;)
 

Tallswife

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Bull Mountain Weaving is run by very good friends of mine. Shes one of the weavers in our local group, except that i'm not local to them anymore LOL!
 

Stophel

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Is there a close second place regarding color compared to white?
Close second? Probably not! :D There are other colors documented, even brown, but probably nothing close to good old white. The Indians loved anything red or blue. There were lots of check pattern blankets, but still generally white with black or white with blue. It was a blanket, not a camouflage cloak. ;) I will not disparage anyone for their brown or gray blankets, though. My most used blanket is a raggedy brown coarse European surplus wool blanket!

https://www.scribd.com/document/288097548/Bedding-Blankets

If you haven't yet looked through the "Material Culture" website, you're really missing out! :)
 

Brokennock

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Close second? Probably not! :D There are other colors documented, even brown, but probably nothing close to good old white. The Indians loved anything red or blue. There were lots of check pattern blankets, but still generally white with black or white with blue. It was a blanket, not a camouflage cloak. ;) I will not disparage anyone for their brown or gray blankets, though. My most used blanket is a raggedy brown coarse European surplus wool blanket!

https://www.scribd.com/document/288097548/Bedding-Blankets

If you haven't yet looked through the "Material Culture" website, you're really missing out! :)
Thanks. I am currently enjoying the link you provided in your 1st post in this topic. And, I've seen the website linked to here before (I think in have it bookmarked to favorites).
I have poked around the "material culture," site a bit if it is what I think it is.

I'm not so much thinking camouflage in regards to not using a white blanket. It is more the 2 reasons of, they are harder to get (especially on a very limited budget), and, white is one of the colors I avoid wearing in the woods. Too many dopes out there that shoot at stuff they have not completely identified. I would love to find a way to have a white and black checked wool blanket dyed so the white becomes hunter orange with black checks, it would still look correct in a black & white photo.
 

Stophel

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There are all kinds of blankets available out there that are dusty rose, peach, etc. Hopefully, a "hunter" wouldn't shoot at a peach colored blanket!

Red is an option, of course, without being so 1950's. Definitely visible, and not an out of the question 18th century color (Indians are often depicted with red matchcoats). Maybe not with point-type black stripes at the ends, but we can't always be that picky.

Here's a nice big red one for not a huge amount of money
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Fa...sh=item4b6a6c6b3f:g:9MQAAOSwTuhdbSG9&LH_BIN=1

I've got a nice unlabled red one that I've carried out into the woods once or twice. I keep it in my truck right now. If I were looking for a high-visibility blanket that didn't look ridiculous (like peach), I'd go with red, for sure. Search around, you'll find something good and affordable sooner or later. ;)
 

Brokennock

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Thanks. The state, unfortunately, says red isn't good enough. I need 400 square inches visible from all sides, while squirrel or deer hunting. Not sure a "liberty cap," is enough, and not sure of its correctness for New England in 1750s thru 1790s
 

Stophel

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If you're forced to wear that wretched blaze orange, correctness has already gone out the window.

Might get some blaze orange poly fleece material and make a matchcoat out of it.

There's been a lot of debate over the "liberty cap" type knitted caps, with the majority of evidence saying no. A standard type modern knit cap is not all that different from the Tuque style knit cap of the 18th century, and may be a better and cheaper choice.
 

Brokennock

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Trying to use a standard of, "if it looks okay in a black and white photo, as far as color goes, it will have to do." Here is where I'm at so far. (Still slowly adding pieces of clothing to the outfit, did not have breaches yet, still need several other items)
20171115_163907.jpg 20171115_164857.jpg

A blanket as described would be a wonderful addition. Oddly, I can't seem to find a suitable blaze orange dye.


More on topic. How does one judge thickness/weight of modern made blankets in comparison to originals? Would original blankets have been like the high loft, almost fluffy and soft, material like a lot of surplus blankets and some wool clothing? Or more like a wool whipcord, or a worsted wool, a little harder and slicker?
 

Tallswife

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I cant answer your question regarding thickness/weight of modern vs originals.

The blankets produced would have varied in all forms. Some being the high loft and some being the worsted. It would all depend on who was producing them and what their technique would be. How was the wool prepared, carded vs combed? How tight was it spun? How many plies was the yarn? What was the sett used for weaving? I've seen documented references of everything from what was called a "bearskin", a very thick, coarse blanket with a shaggy nap, thru blankets so loosely woven that "a straw could be shot thru them without discommoding the threads"

Blankets produced in the Colonies would have been mainly a homespun/home woven variety. There was no wool industry in the Colonies at the time. The extant examples of blankets were mainly imported from Britain or France. I've seen some Colonial examples, which are primarily narrower strips pieced together up the middle. The looms in the Colonies were only weaving 30 to 40 inches wide.
 

Brokennock

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I cant answer your question regarding thickness/weight of modern vs originals.

The blankets produced would have varied in all forms. Some being the high loft and some being the worsted. It would all depend on who was producing them and what their technique would be. How was the wool prepared, carded vs combed? How tight was it spun? How many plies was the yarn? What was the sett used for weaving? I've seen documented references of everything from what was called a "bearskin", a very thick, coarse blanket with a shaggy nap, thru blankets so loosely woven that "a straw could be shot thru them without discommoding the threads"

Blankets produced in the Colonies would have been mainly a homespun/home woven variety. There was no wool industry in the Colonies at the time. The extant examples of blankets were mainly imported from Britain or France. I've seen some Colonial examples, which are primarily narrower strips pieced together up the middle. The looms in the Colonies were only weaving 30 to 40 inches wide.
Thank you.
 

Stophel

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If you look at the captured British army blanket shown on the "Material Culture" site, you can see the weave pretty clearly. Assuming that it, at one time, had at least a little bit of nap, it would appear to be quite comparable to the average modern (20th century) wool blanket. So maybe not fantastic, but maybe not too bad, at least. Others would be heavier and more fulled, others would not. From what little I can tell, American home made two panel blankets tended to be woven with heavier yarns/threads, but perhaps not fulled much, if at all.

It must have been on that site where I just read that a Portuguese trader gave the dimensions and weight of his blankets. They were something like 85" long, 68" wide (or something like that... a fairly ordinary size blanket) and weighed 5 pounds. That's a fairly substantial blanket. Not monstrous, but heavier than most. I believe my blanket that I just got is about five pounds or a little more. It's fairly dense and heavy.
 

Stophel

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That one looks pretty dang awesome, actually. I wonder who made it?
 

Stophel

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Well, I got this earlier today. What I was waiting for. A Gen-U-Wine Hudson's Bay blanket. In the coveted (at least by me) white with super dark blue indigo stripe. Probably about as close as one can get to an 18th century point blanket, without having one custom made. It's not pristine, but in pretty good shape, especially considering its age. Best I can tell, without buying the book, the label dates it to 1920's or earlier. So pretty much a century old. Still has all its nap. It could stand a cleaning, and has some spots, but it doesn't stink, just has the typical "wool smell". It's pretty nice, but not ultra heavy. I'm gonna say it's probably right at 5 pounds. Real close to the same weight as the first blanket I pictured above.

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Kansas Jake

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Nice, I'll trade you a JC Pennys striped one for it. You will get two more stripes.
 

Brokennock

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Well, I got this earlier today. What I was waiting for. A Gen-U-Wine Hudson's Bay blanket. In the coveted (at least by me) white with super dark blue indigo stripe. Probably about as close as one can get to an 18th century point blanket, without having one custom made. It's not pristine, but in pretty good shape, especially considering its age. Best I can tell, without buying the book, the label dates it to 1920's or earlier. So pretty much a century old. Still has all its nap. It could stand a cleaning, and has some spots, but it doesn't stink, just has the typical "wool smell". It's pretty nice, but not ultra heavy. I'm gonna say it's probably right at 5 pounds. Real close to the same weight as the first blanket I pictured above.

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Very nice. Thanks for sharing. Amazing to see something of wool that age that hasn't been ruined by bugs, time, and neglect.
 

teakmtn

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Brokennock, That blanket you posted a link to is a great blanket. I have one of Rick's blankets. The one I got from Rick is actually what's called a "pair" blanket.
Back in the day blankets were manufactured and shipped as a "pair" which is a blanket double length which would then be cut into two blankets by either the end trader or the purcheser. (I believe they were made and shipped this way for Tax proposes) And many times kept as a whole pair, which I chose to do. A "pair' blanket is the most correct form of Trapper's blanket.
I have a few. The way I use it is to fold in half lengthwise like a taco, then fold in half again end to end. This gives me double blanket above and below me and my feet won't stick out the bottom.
I have a Rob Stone "pair" and one of Rick's pairs. They are both awesome blankets. You can't go wrong with either of those. Rob makes them himself and Rick has his made by a Native American co-op in Central America out of dense Churo sheep wool. Super heavy, super warm and tough as nails. Cheers
 

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