Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beaver Pelts for Wool? Really?

When I first moved to New York and started catching on to the addresses of the city's better second hand shops (as opposed to the pricey 'vintage' ones), I discovered that quite a few of those carrying used military apparel also sold big white woolen blankets with big ol' multicolored stripes on them. And for those of you who are few steps ahead of yours truly, then yes, I'm talking about the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket.
Image via Apartment Therapy.

Actually it wasn't until yesterday that I realized the blanket is named such, as well as the fact that it has quite an 'interesting' story. Apparently the blankets were traded to First Nations and Native Americans back in the 18th Century in exchange of beaver pelts. It's still in production today and retails for between 275 and 475 Canadian dollars. And as you've probably already predicted, that means that the 'vintage' ones are now considered collectors' items.

I don't wanna jump to any conclusions here, but at the same time that I find the blanket deeply desirable from an aesthetic point of view, it also seems to represent the classic tale of the colonizer's exploitation of the perfectly self-sufficient indigenous people. I mean, am I the only one who thinks there's something wrong with this barter? Obviously the exchange value of a couple of animal pelts is higher than a wool blanket with stripes on it, right?
Image via here.

But what do I know, maybe I'm missing something here. All I'm saying is that unlike a certain Miss Bilson, you wont be catching me around town wearing anything Hudson Bay! Not until I get to the bottom of this, no sir!

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