Every night the body come in close contact with this essential material, yet rarely have a lot of people ever heard of it: MATTRESS TICKING. The objective of this article is to provide insight into the rich background and the evolution of this important home textile that may serve as the outer covering of each mattress made. There are many books on the history of textiles-but rarely does an index mentions ticking.
Having been a company purchasing manager of mattress ticking-I later became frustrated in my quest to uncover the genesis of the term and the technical description. I contacted a professor of air duct material I knew at Southern Polytechnic Institute in Marietta, Georgia; he didn’t know but gave me the names of two retired textile history professors from Clemson. Both men told me they did not understand what original tickings were-along with never been asked! So, I’m sharing about two decades of my own, personal research-which can prove a little technical but that is certainly my purpose.
Specialty textiles, like mattress ticking, were first engineered in Medieval Italy (1100-1400) and followed various guild prescriptions which covered the locations, loom types and mixture of materials. Mattress ticking were a good weave fustian which had a linen warp along with a cotton weft. These blended yarn products were called Union Weaves later in Europe. Simple monochrome stripes of plain or tabby weaves were produced along with four heddle twills, checks, herringbones in heavier muslins and buckrams.
Terlici were triple-twilled fabrics created using a combination of linen and hemp warp and cotton weft and were heavyweight sturdy mattress ticking. Plain, striped, and checked burdie were linen warp and cotton weft tickings. Milan offered an acordati which were single, double or triple ribbed cords mixing linen and cotton warp yarns in mixtures of twelve linen to 3 cotton or eight linen to make a heavy grade cloth. Milan also produced banerie that were heavy 100% cotton cloths in which the steleta were graded as mattress ticking.1
Ticks/Ticking discussing the pu coated oxford fabric being a mattress of bolster casing enters English in Fabyan’s Chnonicles 1305-other sources more widespread in 1365. Various cotton cloths including ticking as well as the word cotton (from Arabic “qutun”) was imported into England in approximately 1507 because duties were quickly applied since the country attempted to protect the domestic wool textile industry.3 “Cotton-wool” because it was known as, continued to develop sought after in spite of British regulations to halt it. The 1660 Tonnage and Poundage Act applied 7-1/2 percent ad valorem duty on linens (including tickings) and extra duties followed in order that by 1714, an example case of 500 ells of striped broad German linen priced at 400 pounds Sterling had an additional duty of 203 pounds.4
The initial use of cotton in Lancashire, England seems to have already been used by fustian weavers in 1601 (fustians were linen and cotton mixed blends)-this cloth possibly being “domestic” ticking grade. As has been explained, Italian guild specialty formulas abounded. Through migration because of religious reasons, several weavers left Italy to settle in Germany inside the cities of Ulm and Augsburg-this new German cloth with linen warp and cotton weft referred to as barchent. Prior to the end in the 16th century these textile producers were in Nurnburg, Hof, Zwickau, Leipzig, and Chemintz and Germany advanced ahead of all European countries in cotton manufacture.
In 1561, England allowed a mass migration of 406 persons from Flanders Nevertheless the outbreak from the Thirty Years War, that cotton product had all but ceased. However, over the course of decades, many textile craftsmen experienced in cotton had settled in England and through mid-1700s a large number of home shops were producing goods including ticking and raw cotton imports had jxtjsh from 1,545,472 million pounds in 1730 to 3,870,392 pounds in 1764. After Richard Arkwright kicked from the Industrial Revolution together with his Spinning Jenny and Water-frame, the volume of cotton imports in 1780 was 32 million pounds.6
British trade cards mention ticking being a product for sale. In 1750, William Witton of Southwark mentions Flanders & English Ticking on the market; Nathaniel Hewitt of Southwark also mentions Flanders & English Ticking for sale in 1768. Between 1770-1820 Arkwright’s innovation created a textile giant in Manchester, England. By 1813, Boston Manufacturing Company became the largest textile producer in america. Amoskeag Mills was made in Manchester, New Hampshire on the Merrimack River and through mid-1850 the mighty factory had 24,000 looms and 662, 000 spindles in a complex well over 5 million square feet. Amoskeag Mills, which held the title from the World’s Largest Textile Mill up until 1910, introduced what is probably the world’s most widely used mattress ticking: the ACA Stripe. This oxford mattress cover was based off ancient Italian style of a thin and thick alternative stripe of black or dark blue color- but was manufactured with 100% cotton. ACA was by far the most desired for quality bedding and mattresses.