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19TH CENTURY TRADE BLANKET – 3 ½ POINT GRAY WOOL – A SCARCE EARLY BLANKET IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  Dating from the 19TH Century, this 3 ½ Point Gray Wool Trade Blanket features the famous “points” or size marks, woven into one edge of the blanket.  Next to firearms and edged weapons, the Trade Blanket was the most common foundation commodity of the frontier trade economy.  In spite of the numbers of these blankets that were sent into the West during the 19th Century, due to the heavy use to which they were subjected, very few survive today. 

Contrary to legend and lore, the points did not indicate the value of the blanket when bartered for various pelts – i.e. three large and one small beaver hides – rather in fact these marks indicated the size and weight of the blanket so that when on the shelf, the factor could determine the size of the blanket without having to unfold and measure it for the customer.   

This blanket measures 84” long by 68” wide with a 4” wide stripe running the width of the blanket located 8” from each end of the blanket.  These stripes served more of a practical purpose than mere decoration and are evidence of early manufacturing practicality.  The blanket material was woven in large bolts or rolls – some in excess of several hundred feet of material in one continuous piece.  The bolts were then moved to the cutting room tables and the stripes indicated where one blanket ended and the next began.  The stripes as they appear on the finished blanket are spaced at the extreme ends of the individual blanket, however while the material was still on the roll the stripes were spaced approximately 6-16” apart.  The cuts to separate the individual blankets from the roll of material could simply be made on the midpoint in this smaller space between a pair of stripes, then the material was pulled out to the next set of stripes and cut again, and the proper sized blanket was produced.  

The three points are 4” long with the shorter point just over half that length.   They are woven into the blanket and not applied.   There is the remnants of a maker's tag present on the blanket and it is similar in style and size to the tag used by the famous Whitney Woolen Mills company of England, but there is not enough of the tag remaining to make a definitive identification. 

The blanket is in very good condition with only a few scattered wear points and one hole Ό” in diameter – very little wear considering the history of these blankets. 

An excellent blanket to display with a Northwest Trade Gun or other Indian-used or Frontier associated firearm, this is a scarce piece of American Frontier history you will not likely encounter again.  (C 51)  $395 


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