Wednesday, November 13, 2013


So it seems that lately,the southwest,navajo,pendleton, beacon,trade blanket style ,has been all the rage.So i've decided to do a small post about it .......enjoy 

The Beacon Manufacturing Company was located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and originally they made reprocessed yarn. In 1904, the company was bought by the Owen family, who really began the blanket manufacturing business. In 1923 while searching for a location for their spinning operation,they decided to settled in Swannanoa, a farming community about ten miles east of Asheville, North Carolina. Ten years later they began the move to take the entire operation to North Carolina. At that time Beacon was the largest blanket maker in the world.
So you'd ask,"why did Beacon leave Massachusetts for the South?" The simple answer is that it was cheaper to do business than in the North.First,they'd be closer to the source of their raw material  [cotton], so they'll save on transportation costs,but mostly because wages were much lower in the South. Labor unions were almost unheard of and jobs were so hard to come by,that workers developed a strong loyalty to the company its owners. This was not just true at Beacon but to any "mill towns" all over the South.That's why,in the early 20th century many Northern entrepreneurs moved their company south........

Prior to 1932 Beacon was using images of American Indians weaving blankets in their advertising,until the Federal Trade Commission and the Navajo Indian tribe filed a complaint saying:"the advertising was misleading and injurious to real Indian weavers".  The company was ordered to stop using Indian images, and they had to make clear that the blankets were not woven/created by Native Americans.

During WWII like many other companies, Beacon switched it's prod to wool/cotton blend blankets for the war effort.As many of the workers left to join the military, their jobs were filled by women of the community.......
After the war Beacon went back to cotton only blankets.In the 1950s, however, the company began adding rayon to the cotton.  At the same time, the ombre weaves were discontinued, as they could not be woven on newly installed machinery.  By the time the  plant closed in 2002, they were making blankets out of acrylic.......

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