Thursday, January 28

troy mills

Whether a Levis or a Lee Storm Rider or Carhartt's Detroit, I'll wear a blanket lined jacket probably 200 days of the year. Fall, bingo. Winter, throw a vest on top. Summer?? those cool summer nights, or on the ferry... solid gold. Springtime, you know the answer.

This could easily run away from me here; posting some history of Troy Mills in NH, (famous as makers of horse blankets) and the use of blanket linings for work jackets... I'm hoping others will have some great images in the ol' file... would love to feature them in a follow up. Spoiler alert; Troy Mills declared bankruptcy in late 2001, and ceased operations in 2002...

Early Troy [New Hampshire, possibly named after Troy, NY] was a New England farming community, although the abundant forest encouraged the manufacture of wooden ware such as boxes, wooden pails, clothes pins, tool handles, and bowls. A brickyard furnished brick for some of our early nineteenth century homes. Tanneries and a pottery thrived at one time. Dependable water power attracted establishment of carding and fulling mills, and woolen and cotton fabric makers.

Of signal importance to Troy was the arrival of Thomas Goodall in 1851. Goodall's brilliant development of the fitted horse blanket in 1857 led to the establishment of a mill later known as Troy Blanket Mills. Acquired by Barrett Ripley and others in 1865, this business has endured under Ripley family management until the present day, now known as Troy Mills, Inc. This places Troy Mills as the oldest textile manufacturer in New Hampshire and third oldest in the United States. Troy woolens in the form of work clothing and "Troy Robes" became nationally known. The Mill successfully made the transition from the horse blankets of the horse and buggy age to become a supplier of needled fabrics to the automobile industry, a classic success story of American enterprise and management. -via

[1998 article] Like most surviving mills, Troy has had its "ups and downs" over the years. The firm that had more than 500 workers in the 1960s employs 300 today--roughly the same number it had in the early part of the century. Newer technology has replaced the looms and weavers and enabled the company to move into a wider array of markets. As it continues to innovate and expand, however, both temporary and long-term changes in some of those markets have resulted in declining sales. -via

Since 2008, and still ongoing, the mill is being developed to become a retirement community; The Residences at Troy Blanket Mills. Just getting this out of the way, Troy Robes were infact tartan travel blankets; great name. Good examples available on ebay.

Plain-faced labelling as Troy Mills blanket linings can be seen in these Carhartt examples below (inside a waistband then a jacket) guesstimate vintage as 1960's-70's. After that is a very nice but little known Bar C jacket w/ Troy lining again dated around 1960. Images via ebay.

That is all I can claim at this point... but at least from 2000-odd and no doubt earlier, you see Carhartt/Lee/Wrangler et. al. turning to semi-felted (mangling textile vocab no doubt here) blanket linings with painted on stripes, rather than woven dyed wool (or were they always painted on?). Watch the changes below. Sidenote, the direction of striping tended to go from horizontal to vertical around the end of the 70's I believe??

I do not know if the below are Troy lined, but in my book the style owes much to the shuttered NH mill. All of this is no doubt dissected to within an inch of it's life in Free&Easy or similar... just enjoying the ride.

[Update: never checked that white tag at right hip of my Levi jumper till tonight... yup, Troy Mills lining. And yes, it is dyed yarn woven to stripe, not painted on... you can clearly see that where the blanket fraying. Best 250 I ever spent. That is $2.50, and no not telling where.]

Great older article at TheSelvageYard talking about some of this stuff, then blanket pr0n at Workers. Also thanks to Jedd@MenAndWomenOfIndustry, Dana@IndianSummerVintage and Lesli@ArchivalClothing.

[Update; must find a copy of this, The fabric of Troy: a history of Troy Mills by the former owner Franklin Fuller Ripley]