Vintage Hudson Bay Point Blankets and Coats

Hudson’s Bay Company is Canada’s oldest corporation. It has been around since 1670.

Genuine Hudson Bay point blankets have become very collectible and can fetch prices up to thousands of dollars. The main determinants of value include age, size, colour, pattern rarity and condition.

From the Hudson’s Bay Company website:

Each blanket was graded as to weight and size using a point system. Points were identified by the indigo lines woven into the side of each blanket. A full point measured 4 – 5.5 in.; a half point measured half that length. The standard measurements for a pair of 1 point blankets was: 2 ft. 8 in. wide by 8 ft. in length; with a weight of 3 lb. 1 oz. each. Points ranged from 1 to 6, increasing by halves depending upon the size and weight of the blanket. The number of points represented the overall finished size of the blanket, not its value in terms of beaver pelts as is sometimes believed.

Particularly collectible point blankets are the Coronation blankets; the one produced for the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II brings approximately $600 if in mint condition while examples of the even rarer, Coronation blanket dating to 1937 have sold for as high as $1300.

In 1890, HBC began adding labels to their blankets because point blankets of similar quality were being sold by HBC competitors.  As the label design evolved over the years, the type of label design can be used to determine the age of the blanket.

Harold Lee Tichenor, point blanket collector and consultant to Hudson’s Bay Company has written two books on point blankets and their collectibility.

Point Blankets as Coats

Point blankets have also been used as coats, either “premade” and sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company or recut into garments. The Plains Indians often wore the blankets instead of buffalo robes and used them to make coats. The Métis peoples fashioned the blanket into a wrap coat with hood and fringing called a capote.

In the War of 1812, the original Mackinaw coats were made from point blankets. Captain Charles Roberts, who commanded the British troops and captured Mackinaw, was unable to obtain greatcoats for his men. Using the design of one of his men, he ordered a supply of point blankets and had coats made.

Today, point blankets and coats are available at selected Hudson’s Bay Company Stores across Canada.

To read more go to the Hudson’s Bay website.



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