Every night our bodies can be found in close contact with this essential material, yet rarely have most people ever heard of it: MATTRESS TICKING. The objective of this article is to offer understanding of 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 of the term and also 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 provided me with the names of two retired textile history professors from Clemson. Both men informed me they did not really know what original tickings were-and had never been asked! So, I’m sharing about two decades of my own research-which may prove somewhat technical but that is my purpose.
Specialty textiles, including 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 had a linen warp along with 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 together with four heddle twills, checks, herringbones in heavier muslins and buckrams.
Terlici were triple-twilled fabrics created using 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 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 about 1507 because duties were quickly applied since the country attempted to protect the domestic wool textile industry.3 “Cotton-wool” as it was described, continued to cultivate 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 additional duties followed in order that by 1714, an example case of 500 ells of striped broad German linen valued at 400 pounds Sterling had an additional 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 continues to be explained, Italian guild specialty formulas abounded. Through migration because of religious reasons, a number of weavers left Italy to settle in Germany in the cities of Ulm and Augsburg-this new German cloth with linen warp and cotton weft referred to as barchent. Ahead of the end in 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 experienced in cotton had settled in England and also by 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 together 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 on the market. In 1750, William Witton of Southwark mentions Flanders & English Ticking available for sale; Nathaniel Hewitt of Southwark also mentions Flanders & English Ticking easily obtainable 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 usa. 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 well over 5 million square feet. Amoskeag Mills, which held the title of The World’s Largest Textile Mill up until 1910, introduced what is one of the world’s most favored mattress ticking: the ACA Stripe. This duncan ticking was based off ancient Italian design of a thin and thick alternative stripe of black or deep blue color- but was manufactured with 100% cotton. ACA was the most desired for quality bedding and mattresses.