Behind Factory Doors: The History of Bates Heritage Bedspread
August’s featured bedspread is possibly our oldest matelassé style still in continuous production: the Heritage. With its classic, half-drop repeat of botanical X’s and O’s, it’s no wonder this ageless pattern has lasted so long.
Bates Manufacturing Company wove their first basic bedspread in 1858, kicking off their iconic career. Almost 60 years later, in 1915, Bates expanded and purchased a variety of new looms. These fresh machines enabled the company to weave a greater assortment of bedspread styles, including Jacquards, crochets, satins, brocades, damasks, and Ripplette. Years passed, and the workers at Bates continued to develop and perfect new styles. Never wanting to forget the past, they also sought to rediscover and resurrect old methods of weaving. In 1940, terry toweling and rib chord cloth were introduced. The famous Matelassé bedspreads were added to the Bate’s collection in the early 1950’s. Both terry bedspreads and matelasse bedspreads continue to be produced today, in Monmouth ME, by Maine Heritage Weavers.
Matelassé is an elegantly figured woven material that was designed to mimic the hand-quilting (whitework, trapunto) techniques of 18th century Marseilles, France. Because of this, it is sometimes called “woven quilting.” At the time, this hand-quilted “Marseille’s cloth” was highly popular in England and used in women’s fashion items. Over the years, an assortment of techniques were developed in England to mimic France’s hand-quilting on a loom, but it wasn’t until the invention of the Jacquard that Matelassé fabric creation was fully revolutionized.
The Heritage was released by Bates in 1952, within the first collection of Matelassé styles produced by the company. At the time, it was called “Heirloom.”
From a 1954 catalogue. Heirloom, now called Heritage (TOP).
There are similar pages from 1955 and 1957 catalogues, pulled from our archives. The (at the time) Heirloom was also offered as a coverlet, or “topper,” as it is today.
From the 1955 catalog. “Bates Heirloom Topper” (CENTER)
A product page with unknown date.
From Bates Decorating Guide and Catalog, 1969
From Bates Fashion Portfolio, (late 60’s)
The name change from “Heirloom” to “Heritage” occurred during the reformation of Bates of Maine in the late 1980’s. Today, Heritage proudly continues its legacy as a finely crafted, made in the U.S.A lighter weight bedspread fit for all four seasons.
Have any thoughts or stories about the Heritage bedspread? Share them with us and our readers in the comments below!
For the entire month of August, you can purchase your own Heritage at 10% discount-- just enter promo code HERITAGEAUG10 at the checkout! Click here to be redirected to the Heritage Bedspread.