Martha Washington's Choice | Vintage Ads Through the Decades
June is one of the prettiest months in Maine. After the long, dark weeks of winter and countless messy spring days, June comes as a welcome relief as all the new foliage and flowers reach their peak.
June is also Martha Washington's birthday month - Happy Birthday Martha! In celebration of her birthday on June 2nd, we've gathered a collection of vintage Bates ads through the decades featuring our famous Martha Washington's Choice Cotton Bedspread.
We hope you enjoy this look through this classic style's history!
1940s | An Iconic Bedspread is Released
Originally called "George Washington's Choice," the Martha was released in 1940. It was the first loom-woven terry bedspread of its kind, thanks to the perseverance and ingenuity of the Bates team at the time. The above advertisement is from a sales pamphlet from 1941. On another page it reads:
"America Recaptures a Lost Weaving Art: Bates craftsmen have recaptured for America and for the world a weaving art lost since the 18th century! This achievement had made possible stitch-by-stitch duplication of a famous American museum piece exhibited at Mt. Vernon. Bates proudly presents 'George Washington's Choice'".
The original bedspread featuring this design was a wedding gift from George Washington to his bride, Martha.
Reads another sales pamphlet from 1949:
"Bates George Washington's Choice reproduces faithfully the priceless hand-woven coverlets that once graced aristocratic colonial homes, that are now museum pieces. The original weave itself, older than Christianity, was lost when textile machinery replaced skilled hand weavers over a hundred years ago. In George Washington's Choice, Bates has recaptured this lost weaving art...has produced the most beautiful bedspread of our time, a collector's item in its own right."
1950s | Bates 100th Year
In 1950, Bates - established in 1850 by Benjamin Bates - celebrated 100 years. The beloved Martha (then George Washington's Choice) was the focal point of their 100-year advertisement. Around this time, the Martha Washington's Choice became a popular wedding gift.
1955: The one, the only...George Washington's Choice. "Loomed to be Heirloomed"
1960s | Romantic Enough to Wear
The 1960s saw a slightly more scandalous advertising campaign streak showcasing glamorous women wrapped in Bates bedspreads. One of our favorites has always been this Martha advertisement from that era - "Romantic Enough to Wear."
In 1969, Bates put out a "Bates Decorating Guide and Catalog". This handbook cleverly doubled as a product catalog and interior decorating handbook. It included tips about choosing color schemes, selecting furniture, and arranging the space - all centered around the idea that the "bedspread is the keynote of [the] entire decorating scheme."
Photo of the Martha from the 1969 Bates Decorating Guide and Catalog.
1980s | Coverlets & Waterspreads
By the 1970s and 80s, other variations of the Martha design were coming into the picture. A 1982 catalog featured the Martha Washington's Choice as both a bedspread (above) and coverlet (below). While we're not sure if this was the first appearance of the Martha as a coverlet, it's the first that we have on record. Today, we still offer the Martha as a bedspread and as a coverlet.
1982: The Martha Washington Coverlet
And of course, it wouldn't have been the glorious 80s without a Martha Washington's Choice Waterspread (a bedspread for your waterbed!).
The Martha Washington's Choice "Waterspread".
1990s and Beyond!
Ever since its initial release over 80 years ago, the Martha Washington's Choice has been a steadfast favorite. Not only does it represent the heirloom quality that we have always been famous for, but it also incapsulates the innovative spirit of Bates that has allowed us to bring the craft of creating quality, American made textiles into the modern era. Today, we're proud to continue manufacturing this truly iconic Bates style, among many others!