Vintage bath towels — one of the best and most satifying buys around

vintage fieldcrest bath towelsShould you give up on buying brand new bath towels and instead, hunt down vintage? I think maybe so — these towels can be found very inexpensively — and the quality is often outstanding. They last DECADES. Santa Baby was very nice to me this Christmas. He found these New Old Stock Fieldcrest bath towels in the way back of the workshop (or maybe it was on ebay for $29.95 no competition) and knew that I would love them. Can you believe it — they are still in their Marshall Fields box, wrapped in tissue paper with a gold foil Marshall Fields sticker. Absolutely pristine. Even DH was impressed, and he normally is not so keen on vintage textiles. They will go just beautifully in my blue bathroom — the one with the blue, green and cream wallpaper with the little red geranium pots on it! In my recent story about best bath towels for the money, several readers underscored that vintage bath towels just can’t be beat. Vee worked in the industry, and I loved her commentary. She said:

I worked for Cannon Mills in their NY office in the ’70s. I still have towels from that job that are in excellent condition without fading. They were demoted to my weekend house 15 years ago because all the browns and oranges of the era looked better in the more country style of the house. All the deep tones of these towels are still intact 35 years later.

I gave away so many towels and sheet sets because I just got tired of looking at them which I now regret . Nothing is comparable in quality (unless you spend a fortune) to the towels that were manufactured for their so called value/low end line, Monticello, much less their luxury line Royal Cannon.

I still have a few terry distowels from that era that are still going strong and unfaded despite hot water bleach and hot dryers.

One of the things I look at when I hit a tag sale are towels, if they were made in the US, I will buy them if they are in decent shape.

These were my #1 favorite finds — vintage Fieldcrest towels, in avocado. They match my bathroom. I got 3 bath towels, 4 hand towels, a bath mat and a washcloth for like $5. YAY!

Vee — I absolutely agree. At the summer’s best estate sale, I also found a set of vintage bath towels — Cannons, in an avocado jacquard — dirt cheap. I am using them. They are terrific.

  1. BlueJay says:

    I love vintage towels. I grew up with the Monticello towels with reverse patterns and they are still around 35 years later! I’ve been told by my wife that I need to stop buying towels, as we have too many as it is, but our local thrift store always has them dirt cheap and they are always in great shape. The Fieldcrest name has been revived in recent years, but the towels are imported from…yep…China. It’s really a shame we’ve lost our linen manufacturers in this country: Martex, St. Mary’s, Stevens of Utica, Cannon/Fieldcrest; all of these companies made awesome linens that really do hold up to the wear and tear of everyday life.

  2. TappanTrailerTami says:

    Guess I’m going to start checking out the thrift stores for vintage towels – and sheets, I HATE all the new sheets out there, they are awful! Old anything is better than new anything (except maybe toilet paper!).

    Alas – I checked Google images for vintage towels, and these are sold already, but oh-so-to-die-for! Thought you’d all like to see…hopefully a RR reader was the lucky one who got these!


  3. Sara in WA says:

    No one has mentioned yet that the bath towel sizes were smaller than the big ones in the stores now. I like the smaller sizes; and they dry faster too.

  4. Annie B. says:

    Oh, Pam. What glorious towels. Good for you.

    Sometime back, I was fortunate enough to find an arm-load of bath towels at our local Salvation Army. They are true classics of floral and geometric prints in our beloved mid mod colors.

    Each towel is adorned with fringe and is smaller than today’s standard, which I, too, like better. They’ve withstood the test of time and are still going strong. In fact they’re the

    I also adore vintage 100% cotton sheets – nothing quite as soft to me as a well worn cotton sheet.

  5. Julie Miller says:

    I grew up in Raleigh NC and every year we would go to the mill in Eden NC or Burlington. I still have the fabulous towels from then–we got countless pink towels for our pink bathroom with Hudie rim sinks. They have lasted forever (got them in the late 60’s) and still have the sheets from my freshman year at college. The stuff out there now is junk although I have found some good sheets at Garnet Hill–they are made in Portugal.

  6. clampers says:

    Anyone have any advice for searching on NOS towels?

    I am usually not part of the germ-police, but used towels give me the willies…

    1. pam kueber says:

      Watch my ebay carousels…. You can find these on ebay – but you have to think through and try lots of keywords. Also watch etsy….

  7. 52PostNBeam says:

    I use one of my parents’ wedding presents, a 2 tone pink Canon Monticello hand towel, on a daily basis in my mud room. It gets washed weekly and still looks amazing. My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary 12/23/11 – Congrats Mom and Dad!

  8. vee says:

    Hi Pam,

    I was thrilled to see my comments quoted. It is so sad to me that the US no longer has any textile industy. The workers at Kannapolis turned out quality products every day for everyday people.

    This is always a subject of conversation in my house since I use mostly vintage applicances. After our big box store vacumm cleaner, made in China went up in flames after being used for less than two
    I went into our basement and pulled out an Electolux that my parents gave me in 1983 when I bought my house. It was in their basement for years, being one of those gorgeous deco streamline ones. The point of the story is that in the fall of 2011 we plugged it an it still worked. I went on ebay and a replacement cord an some attachments.

    So did American manufacturing die out partly because of the high quality of the products? I have a Dormeyer hand mixer and also a stand mixer (they closed in 1953) that are still going strong.

    For the person that is bothered by used towels I would say that most of the towels that you will find now are the slightly use company towels. You can throw them in the washer, use lots of soap and hot water and dry them on a high heat. They will still look better in a month that anything you will buy today made in India or China. I feel that I go to hotels and are given previously “used” sheets and towels
    that are washed. I can do the same at home.

    Good hunting to everyone!


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