This vintage coat was made by the Hudson’s Bay company from their iconic point blanket material. It is in their “Olympic” pattern, a belted double breasted style, with handwarmer pockets and flapped patch pockets. In this particular example, the points of the four point blanket are on the inside of the coat on the wearer’s right shoulder. The coat is fully lined in gray. It is tagged a 46, but I would say it fits more like a size 50 or 52.
Chest (pit to pit): 29″ (doubled = 58″)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 21″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 27″
A bit about the Hudson’s Bay Blanket Coat:
The Hudson’s Bay Company introduced their distinctive striped “point” trade blanket in 1780. The blankets were used in the fur trade, traded in exchange for pelts. The “points” represented the size and weight of the blanket. The blankets were soon being tailored into hooded, belted “Capotes”.
In 1811, 40 greatcoats were commissioned for soldiers stationed at Fort St. Joseph in Jocelyn, Ontario. They were made under the direction of John Askin, fur trader, and keeper of the King’s Store at that fort. Running short on proper supplies and in need of adequately warm coats for the men, Askin had the coats sewn from point blankets. The modern mackinaw was born.
The Hudson’s Bay blanket material was advertised for its, “warmth, durability, retention of color, non-shrinage”, for being “non-hardening when exposed to the elements”, and for their water resistant qualities. Combined with its heavy weight, and thick fluffy nap, the Hudson’s Bay Blanket made for ideal material in a harsh environment. They remained popular with fur traders through the 18th and 19th centuries. Along with their mackinaw-cloth relatives, they also proved popular with Lumbermen on both sides of the border.
Coats made from Hudson’s Bay point blanket material were truly investments, costing significantly more than identical coats in other fabrics. Some examples: In 1937, an Albert Richard coat in heavy mackinaw cloth cost $12.50. That same coat in the HBC fabric cost $22.50. In 1936, a different manufacturer was offering 32oz melton coats for $5.95. To upgrade to point blanket fabric doubled the price.
These coats were the ultimate in rugged, high-end outdoors garments. At the top of the price range for short coats, they were sold by such high-end outfitters as Abercrombie & Fitch and Von Lengerke & Detmold. By the 1930s, sportswear companies like Albert Richard and Maine Guide by Congress had joined the act. The Hudson’s Bay blanket coat enjoyed a surge of popularity on the United States market in the mid through late 1930s. Mirroring the Mackinaw craze of 1912-1915, the style was brought over the border to the US by tourists and seasonal workers who had seen the coats in use in Canada and been impressed with their warmth and durability. They briefly became a university fad in the 1930s, but really stuck with sportsmen who could afford the best.
Hudson’s Bay blankets were originally made in England. In the middle of the 20th century, they switched manufacture to Canada. Currently, they are again produced in England, by John Atkinson. Former competitor Woolrich Woolen mills has the contract to import Bay Blankets to the US, and other former competitor Pendleton now makes the blankets used in the coats sold by HBC.
As the 20th century wore on, the Hudson’s Bay point blanket coat remained a Canadian icon. It was the Canadian team uniform at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics.