16 June 2016

Coats & Clark's

Sometimes a name tucked away on a shelf in Walt Disney World can pay respect to a wonderful artist, actor/actress, character, Imagineer, etc. Then there are times that a name is just a name. If you happen to be looking around the upper shelves of The Chapeau, Main Street, U.S.A.’s shop for all things hats, you would find stylish hats, oversized buttons, and a variety of thread and spools. Above one section is a line of spools all from the company of Coats & Clark’s.

A first pass through your memories and you may think that Coats certainly refers to the Disney Legend, Claude Coats. In this instance, however, there is a real life story of entrepreneurs. In fact, it refers the brothers, James and Patrick Clark, and the Coats family, the father James and his two sons James and Peter.

The Clark brothers were well-known weavers who could reproduce Kashmir shawls in Britain for substantially less cost. However, when supplies dried up due to war, the brothers began twisted yarn together to produce threads that we strong and could be used by fellow weavers. The pair would put their first thread on the market in 1812 and would open their first mill only five years later in 1817. It was not long afterwards that they figured out a process by which they could spool the thread onto wooden reels.

With the business of thread growing rapidly, James Coats began his own thread creation endeavor, focusing on sewing and crochet threads as their niche, in 1826. His sons would take over just a few short years later in 1830. Among their many accolades, cord from the Coats Company would inspire Edison during his 1979 experiments to perfect the lightbulb.

When the Industrial Revolution came to town, the impact on weaving and thread production was huge. The two companies found their way to American in the late 1860s. In 1896 the two companies would merge, but retain their respective company names. The name of Coats & Clark’s wouldn’t be fully integrated into the business until the early 1950s.

Back at The Chapeau, we find ourselves in a turn of the century hatters shop. With threads from Coats & Clark’s becoming popular in the late 1800s, it’s no wonder we would find several spools hanging about the shop. Sometimes there’s a tie to something Disney, and sometimes the Imagineers are merely setting an appropriate scene.

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