A Brief History of the Zion Park Blanket.

A Guest Post

Today’s post is a guest post from Fred Coldwell, a traveler, collector and lecturer who is the unchallenged expert on Pendleton’s National Park blankets. Please enjoy his informative essay on the origins of the Zion Park blanket, which we reintroduced in a new coloration this year after a long hiatus from the line. All photos of the vintage versions are courtesy Fred Coldwell, taken from his personal collection. 

The introduction

The Zion Park blanket was introduced on September 1, 1926 in six body colors: straw, drab, white, camel hair, rose, and delft blue. Three rows of three character stripes appear at each end. Only one size was produced, 66” x 80”, using pure virgin wool filling on a cotton warp. Felt binding was sewn across both ends, and the Zion Park used the standard Pendleton blanket label for its time.

Here is a stunning example in Delft blue:

The 1926 debut version of the Pendleton Zion National Park blanket.

The colorful character stripes are, from the top down: white, rose, and drab; white, straw, and red; and white, rose and drab. Except for red, Zion Park blankets were available in all these other body colors.

A closer view of the stripes on the 1926 debut of the Pendleton Zion National Park blanket.

The Zion Park used a very thick fleece wool and white felt binding, both visible around its Pendleton copyright 1921 label used from 1921 to 1930:

embroidered label on 1926 version of the Pendleton National Park blanket.

The redesign

In 1929, the Zion Park blanket was redesigned to feature a thunderbird with a Hopi border top and bottom. Seven color combinations were available. Here’s a terra cotta bird on a brown body with a 1921-1930 Pendleton label:

The 1929 version of the Zion Park blanket, a thunderbird on a rust red background.

Back to stripes

The Zion Park disappeared in the 1930s but reappeared postwar with a new design, 5 color bands at each end with three very thin lines of body color at the outer edge of the outer bands. Here’s one in stone with a black center band that emulates a solar eclipse:

The 1940s stripe version of the Pendleton Zion National Park blanket.

The remnants of satin binding appear original to the blanket. The three thin lines of stone body color can barely be seen migrating into the outer straw band:

The corner of the 1940s version shows a blue and gold embroidered Pendleton label.

While retaining its stone body color, the Zion Park soon changed its 5 color bands to lighter pastels popular in the 1950s:

Shot of blanket with Pendleton cardboard tag still attached.

It was identified by its stapled card and wore a new gold label that did not otherwise distinguish it. Both the card and gold label now proclaim the Zion Park was made from 100% virgin wool. The color being given only as Zion National Park suggests the Zion Park came only in this one official color.

1950s Pendleton Zion Park blanket with cardboard tag and white and gold Pendleton label.

The pastel colors became slightly stronger over time, but once the card was removed the gold Pendleton label by itself makes the Zion Park difficult to identify, so one must memorize its color scheme.

1950s Pendleton Zion National Park blanket with satin binding.

In the 1960’s the Zion Park was also available in a small 64” x 43” throw with fringe along each side:

A Pendleton Zion National Park Zion blanket throw with a fringed edge from the 1960s.

The Woolmark logo (lower left) on the throw blanket’s label identifies it as made in around 1965 or later, when Pendleton began using the Woolmark to identify its 100% virgin wool blankets:

A closeup of the Pendleton blue and gold embroidered label on the 1960s Zion National Park throw.

Also in the 1960s overstitched binding replaced the satin. The three thin lines of the body color, which were always present but nearly impossible to see due to the faint colors, now became slightly more visible due to the mildly stronger colors:

A folded shot of the 1960s version, with stitched binding.

2020 release

The Zion Park was discontinued in 1966 and the name remained dormant until 2020. This year, the Zion Park rejoins the National Park blanket family with richer and deeper colors and, finally, its own National Park Blanket label featuring a mountain lion:

The label of the Zion National Park blanket by Pendleton.

The new 2020 Zion Park layout was inspired directly by the 1950s pastel version, but its colors were updated to reflect the landscape of the park itself. The three thin line design feature is now even more visible because of the contrasting brick red body and navy band colors. Why be subtle when you can be bold!

Thank you, Fred! The 2020 version of the Pendleton Zion National Park blanket can be seen here: Zion National Park, by Pendleton

Pendleton label with bald eagle: "Pendleton since 1863 Highest Quality Made in the USA."

 

 

 

 

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