Collector's note: "For more than 100 years blankets were made all over Australia in over 100 woollen mills. My aim, is to preserve 100 examples of these wonderful pieces of history.
Ten years ago I started collecting the iconic Onkaparinga travel rugs, so that on movie nights at home there would be plenty to go around. Everyone had their favourite; even the cat had his own – a small red tartan one. Keeping an eye out for those travel rugs at op-shops and markets, collectable stores and bazaars, led to noticing vintage blankets. I'd never really thought about them before or paid much attention though of course I had grown up with them at my grandmother's. When I discovered my first Laconia cream blanket with blue stripes, my eyes just went gaga. Well that was it, I was hooked and since then over 500 blankets have passed through my hands.
These common, everyday items, found in all households for so many decades, were traditional engagement gifts. Pairs were prized wedding presents turning into family heirlooms. They were fashionable dressers of beds, givers of warmth, bestowers of security and reliability. The comfort found in these objects resonates with almost all of us; we grew up with them ourselves or fondly recall them in a grandparent’s home. There is no modern replacement with the integrity of these old blankets, many of them now older than most of us. They are romantic, sensible, special, familiar, nostalgic and nothing else feels so appropriate in so many situations. No offense to the great Aussie doona, but from hippie to hipster, at a music festival, picnic, campsite or couch, a vintage blanket is something coveted by all.
This industry that employed tens of thousands and must have been such a huge contributor to the economy is almost completely lost now. Blanket Fever is an ode to everything that came before: the land, the sheep, the shearers, the hands, the mills, the weavers, the designers, the distributors, the department stores. To the grandparents that gave them, the people that received them, the families that kept them; thank you.
I’m passionate about my collection of Australian blankets manufactured in mostly Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania from the 1930s to the end of the 1960s. The collection has blankets from each of these four decades representing the styles and fashions of their time and includes dated advertisements which help determine the eras the blankets are from.
Two blanket labels, framed, on blanket backing
Inscriptions & markings
Castlemaine Pure Wool/The Laconia Blanket/Guaranteed All Pure Wool And Odorless/Made in Australia