Every night our bodies can be found in close contact with this essential material, yet rarely have most people ever heard about it: MATTRESS TICKING. The objective of this article is to provide advice about the rich background and the evolution of this important home textile that serves as the outer covering of every mattress made. There are numerous 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 on 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 gave me the names of two retired textile history professors from Clemson. Both men informed me they failed to know 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 which is my purpose.
Specialty textiles, such as 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 strict weave fustian that have a linen warp and a cotton weft. These blended yarn products were called Union Weaves later in Europe. Simple white and black 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 that 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 which were heavy 100% cotton cloths of which the steleta were graded as mattress ticking.1
Ticks/Ticking referring to the 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 and the word cotton (from Arabic “qutun”) was imported into England in approximately 1507 because duties were quickly applied because the country made an effort to protect the domestic wool textile industry.3 “Cotton-wool” since it was described, continued to grow sought after despite 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, an illustration case of 500 ells of striped broad German linen worth 400 pounds Sterling had an added duty of 203 pounds.4
The first utilization of cotton in Lancashire, England generally seems to have been utilized 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 as a result of religious reasons, numerous 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. Before the end from the 16th century these textile producers were in Nurnburg, Hof, Zwickau, Leipzig, and Chemintz and Germany advanced before 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 proficient 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 off of the Industrial Revolution along with his Spinning Jenny and Water-frame, the amount of cotton imports in 1780 was 32 million pounds.6
British trade cards mention ticking as being a product available 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 developed a textile giant in Manchester, England. By 1813, Boston Manufacturing Company took over as the largest textile producer in the United States. Amoskeag Mills was developed 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 sq ft. Amoskeag Mills, which held the title from the World’s Largest Textile Mill until 1910, introduced what is probably the world’s most popular mattress ticking: the ACA Stripe. This mattress ticking fabric was based off ancient Italian style of a thin and thick alternative stripe of black or navy blue color- but was manufactured with 100% cotton. ACA was the most desired for quality bedding and mattresses.