Sunday, 29 January 2012

Second World War household linens - Utility Mark

The auction this week brought a large lot of unused Utility Mark household linens.

They were still in the original brown paper wrapping..all tied up with string.

Some had the original paper labels

 I wonder why they were bought and never used?  Maybe they were intended for "the bottom drawer" and due to the war the wedding was never to be.

The Utility Mark was introduced towards the end of 1941 by the British government with several purposes in mind.

Raw materials (cloth, wool, leather etc.) were in short supply and had to be conserved. Manufacturers needed to become more efficient in their working practices (Much of the skilled labour had left to fight in the war). Clothing prices needed to be kept down so that the civilian population could afford clothing of a reasonable quality.  The government took control of the import and manufacture of raw materials and supplied cloth etc. to manufactures.

Manufactures were encouraged to produce a limited range of garments and other household linens and therefore produce longer runs. This obviously increased efficiency while reducing the choice available.

The style of items produced were also subject to 'austerity' regulations, which restricted how much cloth was used. For example on clothing, pockets were restricted, a maximum length for men's shirts was introduced and a ban on turn ups for men's trousers caused much heated debate.

So in my haul were cream pure wool blankets, pure brushed cotton blankets and cotton twill sheets. The latter are so strong that they will last decades of use unlike the thin cotton sheets of today. Also tucked into one of the parcels were several Irish linen glass cloths and men's hankies


Finally, I had to include a photo of one of the adverts from the newspaper that was wrapped around the sheets.  Modern washing machines of the time......apparently labour saving devices? 



BusyLizzie said...

Very informative! Thank you for sharing your wonderful finds. I LOVE Utility textiles & clothing. Lizzie

Laurence John said...

hi, will you be putting any of the CC41 blankets on ebay ?


Catherine Harrop said...

just helped my elderly mother change her bed sheets she mentioned her lily white sheets were from the war she showed me the utility marks they were in great condition after 74 years not like the rubbish nowadays from Catherine harrop