Historic American Quilts

ENIGMA QUILT

AND

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.



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 haq@galenalink.net.

 

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.

 

 

519 Tea-Dyed Pine Tree, 1880's, 70x90, West Virginia. Annette Hudkins Riley of Barbour county dyed fabric with tea and hand-pieced this pine tree quilt over a century ago. There is a triple border, hand sewn, with the inner portion a sawtooth. The quilting is fabulous at 10 st/in in double grids, wreaths with grid centers, and diagonals on the border. Obviously the tea-dyed fabric has faded unevenly. The borders are frayed and a few pieces in the center are worn. Just think of the work involved in hand piecing the triple border and the tiny triangles of the pine tree block. $175

 

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518 "Centennial Quilt", Peony Variation Applique, 1876, 79x88, West Virginia. This was made by Annette Hudkins Riley, first in a line of quilters. The family has always called this the "Centennial Quilt", although it may have no visual connection to that anniversary other than that the colors are red, white and blue. The top photo is of the top half with the left border turned over to see the back. The second photo is of the bottom half with the same, now right side border turned over.The border leaves are blue, but others on the top half, perhaps originaly green, are now brown and have deteriorated. The Turkey red has worn in several of the flowers, but is by no means ragged. This quilt is entirely hand pieced including seams in the backing and the binding.The quilting probably speaks for itself, with every inch beautifully quilted at 9-10 st/in with wreaths filled with 1/2-inch grid quilting in the white set blocks and 1-inch grids over the remainder. Incredibly the quilt is very clean with a few yellowish marks on the bottom (second picture). Besides the wear mentioned above, the binding has worn. Nevertheless this will be a beautiful treasure of expert quilting to have in your home. $150

 

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517 Peony Variation Applique and family copy of 518, 76x80, early 20th century. The daughter of Annette, Florence Marjorie Workman, made this quilt to replicate the Centennial Quilt. She was the grandmother of the former owner and made it with Annette's help on the quilting. The colors are red and yellow in the peonies, but the stems and leaves were either blue or mint green and have faded. This is completely hand pieced, even the binding, which is yellow and rather wide. The quilting is about 8 st/in and is in simplified wreaths and 1-inch diagonals. These quilts were taken care of and treated with reverence by the family throughout the 20th century . "SON" is written on the back of the binding. Except for the fading, this is in excellent condition and is a pretty quilt with history. $200

 

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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

 

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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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Log Cabin Crib Quilt

Close Up

Idigo blue backing

378 Courthouse Steps Log Cabin Crib Quilt, 1860-80, 45x52, from the estate and farm of Gladys Hasty Carroll, a prolific writer of the 1970's and 1980's, Maine. These quilts (and those on other pages) remained in the family on the Hasty farm from their early beginings, and were used and well taken care of, with repairs made as needed. The log cabin blocks include a variety of hand pieced vintage cotton prints, including many madders. On three sides, there is a wide border of alternating triangles of an indigo print and a tan and red print. The backing is a satin weave solid indigo fabric, (some repairs, several rips). The backing is attached to the front with a loose running stitch of brown thread. The indigo binding is machine stitched, and remnants of old braid are attached to the top as hanging hooks. The quilt has a patina of age, and a couple of the pieces on the front have wear. This is a fabulous find for the quilt historian or crib quilt collector. $100

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