The very first mention of the now-famous Baker Blanket was in 1866 when the S.W. Baker Company of Providence, Rhode Island developed an “Evaporating Horse Blanket” specifically designed to cool out a sweaty horse (hence the modern day name “cooler”). At the time, Providence was the center for worsted wool production in the United States. The S.W. Baker Company also created the original description and illustration still in use today in our signature red tag and red-tag logo. The original firm was sold and re-sold, becoming a small part of larger mills over the years. By the early 1930s, due to the Great Depression and other factors, the business closed.
In the meantime, the William Ayres & Sons company of Philadelphia had been formed in 1870; at some point in time, assumedly concurrent or after Baker ceased its own operation, Ayres & Sons acquired the Baker brand name. in 1859 their catalog proclaimed that all their products had been branded 5/A, including the “5/A Baker®” brand, which was specifically reserved for the famous triple-weave plaid blanket (today’s Baker Blanket, Original Plaid). The companion plaid sheet (now the Baker Sheet, Original Plaid) was originally called “Ironsides” for its formidable durability. It may surprise you to know that until this point, the Baker Original Plaid was actually printed on the fabric, rather than woven in. Sometime right after WWII, the mill turned to weaving the iconic plaid, giving it a much richer depth of pattern and elegant appearance. (The other substantial change to this timelessly classic product was the addition of acrylic fibers in the 1980s to answer customer desire for washability without shrinkage.)
William Ayres & Sons was not the end of the ownership trail for the Baker brand, however, as Ayres was in turn acquired by the Philadelphia Blanket Company in 1960. This company was formed in 1900 by George J. Joly, Jr, and joined by his sons J. Dean and George III in 1942. Ayres and Philadelphia were run as separate companies for four years, combining in 1964 as the Ayres-Philadelphia Company. Change continued when they ceased operation in 1987 and for the next three years Baker products were manufactured by A.T. Stone & Company of Patterson, NJ. Being new to the equestrian industry and therefore with a steep learning curve especially regarding retailer servicing, they sold the Baker® brand to the Curvon Horse Clothing Company in 1990.
The Curvon story begins with incorporation in 1891 in New York City making it the oldest operating horse clothing company in the United States. First launched as the Curtis and von Bernuth Manufacturing Company, the name was “modernized” to Curvon (Curtis & Von combined) in 1935.
Harry Banta bought into the company during World War I, then the third generation (second of the Bantas) came on board with Harry Banta’s oldest son, John, joining in 1939 with a freshly minted degree in textiles. He only stayed a year before serving his country as a US Navy pilot in World War II. After the war, he returned to work at Curvon in 1946. Harry and John ran their New York factory until 1955, Harry retired and John moved the business to the Jersey Shore, utilizing rental space for five years before the new factory was brought online in 1960. The 60s boomed, leading to a factory expansion and a whole new generation of horse lovers loving the quality of Curvon Horse Clothing.
After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in business and textiles, John’s son Blake Banta joined Curvon in 1977, and completed purchase of the company in 1985, when John retired. Blake runs the company to this day, and is proud to offer a large majority of Made in the USA products under the Baker® brand name, with the same commitment to durable good looks that started the brand way back in 1866.
That Famous Fabric
Horse owners know and love that iconic tan and black Baker plaid, with fancy striped trim. That’s the most obvious cue you’re looking at a Baker, as long as it has the red logo tag proclaiming its authenticity as well!
What unifies all, however, is an unrelenting dedication to quality, durability, and good looks. When you want that kind of quality, the answer is simple: just look for the red Baker tag, as None Genuine Without It!