Historic American Quilts

Venerable Old Quilts

The first is a quilt I found some time ago which has had me pondering the whole time. It is my persistent mystery.

These other quilts may be of interest to serious collectors or textile experts, who would like them as rare examples of a particular form or as study or museum pieces. Also because of their condition, these quilts are being offered at relatively low cost. I think you will find something very special in each of them.

It is also unusual to find three quilts from successive generations of the same family. Three below are from a family in West Virginia and include a tea-dyed early piece.


The Enigma Quilt



Four patches were opened and the inner fabric pinned back.


One patch next to the binding was opened on the diagonal.



Four patches were opened and pinned back. Note one is showing the underside of the fabric.



The edge of two patches were opened. One was showing the underside of the fabric.





241, Triple Irish Chain with double patches, 86x91, signed " Anna M.S-----gick" and "7-4-1884", from Sterling, Tennessee. The front is a lovely looking triple Irish chain with a greenish blue background, perhaps of polished cotton. The patches are cotton or wool challis. The backing is a twill weave of some combination fiber in the brown and cotton in the print. The binding is a purchased twill. The double patches are sewn together. As far as I can tell, every front patch has another behind it. The backing has a plaid behind it as you can just see in the last photo.

I have no idea why this duplication has been done. My three ideas are: 1) there was an excess of fabric, but why go to all that labor? 2) to make the quilt warmer (it is rather heavy), but why not just put a layer of solid fabric underneath and quilt it down? 3) to make a code, patch, patch----patch, patch, 4) to hide valuables, or 5) to drive me crazy.

If anyone has an idea, please convey it to the QHL internet line or to me at Historic American Quilts





676 Churn Dash Album, 1882-1888, 72x75, Illinois. This album quilt, made in 1882 to 1888 is presently in the hands of the Yellow Creek Quilt Shop in Pearl City, Illinois, in the north-central part of the state. The inscriptions in each block are written by the same hand in ink, and each block has a name, a location and the date.For anyone who might have had ancestors in that area a vist woud be ineresting.



108 Star and Arrow Variation, 65x86, Circa 1880, Kentucky. I believe that parts of this quilt were made with homespun cotton and hand woven fabric. Furthermore, the quilter seems to have designed a patched pattern of her own. Solid stars are extended by arrow-like diamond pieces. The fabrics are wonderful 130-year old madders, tans, white with red figures, mint green stripes and bright blue solids and prints. Several of the cocoa-colored fabrics look to be hand block printed. The background print is tan and dark brown vermiculite , which is fraying and quite fragile. The sashing is off-white with wavy red and blue plaid. The cornerstones are tan plaids with red and blue, and the binding is made of the same plaid (last photo). The backing is a coarsely woven fabric with irregular thread diameters., suggesting home spinning and weaving. The quilt is browning with age overall, and two of the dark brown fabrics have worn through and stained the backing (upper block and second from right block on the bottom). It is likely that these were colored with homemade dyes, probably made from walnuts. The quilting is 7-8 st/in. in arcs. This is all hand-pieced, including the binding. A very interesting study piece. $150




337 Bars, Reversible, 92x95, Queen, mid 19th century, Pennsylvania. The bars are 11-12 inches wide in a green and yellow print and floral chintz, separated by a narrow red stripe. The 12-inch outer border is a madder print stripe. The reverse side is a combinations of two different madder vermiculite strips and one striped fabric, all with similar hues and very lovely. This side would be great to use on your queen-sized bed. The quilt is machine-pieced and knife edged. The excellent quilting consists of 1-in. square grids placed on the diagonal, plus chevrons and double quilting. The chintz on the one side has areas worn through to the batting, but this has been stabilized with bridal veiling. For those collectors who love old quilts and fabrics, this is a two-fold gem. $200




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