Every night the body come in close contact with this essential material, yet rarely have most people ever heard about it: MATTRESS TICKING. The purpose of this article is to provide understanding of the rich background and the evolution of this important home textile that serves 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 business purchasing manager of mattress ticking-I later became frustrated on my quest to uncover the genesis of the term and also 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 me with the names of two retired textile history professors from Clemson. Both men informed me they failed to know what original tickings were-and had never been asked! So, I’m sharing about two decades of my own research-which might prove a little technical but which is 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 combination of materials. Mattress ticking were a strict 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 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 produce a heavy grade cloth. Milan also produced banerie that 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 prevalent in 1365. Various cotton cloths including ticking and also 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 referred to, continued to develop popular regardless 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 to ensure that by 1714, a good example case of 500 ells of striped broad German linen valued at 400 pounds Sterling had an extra duty of 203 pounds.4

The first usage of cotton in Lancashire, England 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 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 of 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 However the outbreak in the Thirty Years War, that cotton product had all but ceased. However, throughout decades, many textile craftsmen experienced in cotton had settled in England and also by 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 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 as being a product available for sale. 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 created a textile giant in Manchester, England. By 1813, Boston Manufacturing Company became the largest textile producer in the United States. 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 sq . ft .. Amoskeag Mills, which held the title in the World’s Largest Textile Mill up to 1910, introduced what is one of the world’s most widely used mattress ticking: the ACA Stripe. This oxford mattress cover 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 probably the most desired for quality bedding and mattresses.