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Every night our bodies can be found in close contact with this essential material, yet rarely have most people ever been aware of it: MATTRESS TICKING. The objective of this post is to offer advice about the rich background and the evolution of this important home textile that may serve as the outer covering of every mattress made. There are many books on the history of textiles-but rarely does an index mentions ticking.

Having been a corporate purchasing manager of mattress ticking-I later became frustrated in my quest to uncover the genesis from the term as well as the technical description. I contacted a professor of tunnel fabric I knew at Southern Polytechnic Institute in Marietta, Georgia; he didn’t know but provided the names of two retired textile history professors from Clemson. Both men explained they did not know what original tickings were-along with never been asked! So, I’m sharing about 20 years of my very own research-which may 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 tight weave fustian which had a linen warp along with a cotton weft. These blended yarn products were called Union Weaves later in Europe. Simple black and white 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 made out of a mixture 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 that had been single, double or triple ribbed cords mixing linen and cotton warp yarns in mixtures of twelve linen to 3 cotton or eight linen to generate a heavy grade cloth. Milan also produced banerie that were heavy 100% cotton cloths which the steleta were graded as mattress ticking.1

Ticks/Ticking talking about the pu coated oxford fabric as being a mattress of bolster casing enters English in Fabyan’s Chnonicles 1305-other sources more prevalent 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 as the country tried to protect the domestic wool textile industry.3 “Cotton-wool” as it was known as, continued to grow in demand 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 further duties followed so that by 1714, a good example case of 500 ells of striped broad German linen valued at 400 pounds Sterling had an added duty of 203 pounds.4

The very first usage of cotton in Lancashire, England generally seems to happen to be employed by fustian weavers in 1601 (fustians were linen and cotton mixed blends)-this cloth possibly being “domestic” ticking grade. As continues to be explained, Italian guild specialty formulas abounded. Through migration due to religious reasons, a number of weavers left Italy to settle in Germany inside the cities of Ulm and Augsburg-this new German cloth with linen warp and cotton weft called barchent. Ahead of the end from the 16th century these textile producers were in Nurnburg, Hof, Zwickau, Leipzig, and Chemintz and Germany advanced in front 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 thousands 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 off of the Industrial Revolution with his Spinning Jenny and Water-frame, the amount 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 for sale; Nathaniel Hewitt of Southwark also mentions Flanders & English Ticking accessible in 1768. Between 1770-1820 Arkwright’s innovation made a textile giant in Manchester, England. By 1813, Boston Manufacturing Company took over as the largest textile producer in america. Amoskeag Mills was created in Manchester, New Hampshire on the Merrimack River and by mid-1850 the mighty factory had 24,000 looms and 662, 000 spindles in a complex of over 5 million square feet. Amoskeag Mills, which held the title of The World’s Largest Textile Mill until 1910, introduced what is probably the world’s most popular mattress ticking: the ACA Stripe. This duncan ticking was based off ancient Italian design of a thin and thick alternative stripe of black or dark blue color- but was manufactured with 100% cotton. ACA was the most desired for quality bedding and mattresses.