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What is a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Hudson's Bay Point Blanket is a beautiful nod to the past, reflecting the rich history of early colonial North America and the trading system by which colonists and the British acquired beaver pelts. Such blankets were made by the British and early North American citizens and traded at trading posts to the Native Americans in exchange for furs. The blankets were and still are 100% wool, and were graded on a point system. Larger and thicker blankets were worth more points, but not necessarily more furs as is commonly believed.

A point system was first used in France in order to rate the size of blankets. This system began in France in the 18th century. One could tell points by the black lines woven on the sides of the blankets. A single point blanket would have a line that was 4 to 5.5 inches (10.16 to 13.97 cm) in length. Additional lines would mean the blanket had additional point values. Sometimes blankets had half point values, which would be indicated by lines about half the length of the standard line.

Traditionally, a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket was white with various striping. Common colors used included green, red, yellow, and dark blue. Various patterns and stripes came in and out of style. The main distinguishing feature was the point system, the use of wool, and the fact that not only Native Americans, but also many colonists used the blankets especially as bed covering, or for extra warmth as a wrap.

The point system today on a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket tends to correspond to bed sizes. Moreover, the blankets are still manufactured today in many parts of England. Yet king and queen sized blankets weren't introduced until well into the 20th century. A queen sized blanket today is six points, and a king sized is eight points.

Old blankets are highly valued, especially if they are in good shape. An old Hudson's Bay Point Blanket can fetch several hundreds to even thousand of US Dollars at antique shops or auctions. New blankets are available from the Hudson's Bay Company stores, but they can also be ordered online. Prices are significant.

Most blankets require care in washing and cannot be machine-washed. The exception to this is the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket made for infants. It is machine washable, and less expensive than the twin sized. Throws that are a little smaller in size than a twin bed blanket are also available.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a America Explained contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon166672 — On Apr 09, 2011

i have an old Hudson Point Blanket in excellent condition I believe it is 3.5 points and the tag is orange with no French. What would it be worth?

By anon150241 — On Feb 07, 2011

I have a old Hudson Bay Point Blanket. It is red with wide black band around the bottom. It is in perfect condition. Just curious as to the value of these old blankets. Thanks Karon H.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a America Explained contributor, Tricia...
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