QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Peggy Westerfield: Textile Collector

Set of triangular blocks in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

Here's the online catalog information.
Printed Cotton Appliqued Document, ca. 1830
Twenty-seven [pieces] that were never used. They were probably created with the intent to be made up into an appliqued quilt or quilt top.
Provenance: Ex-collection of Grace Hartshorn Westerfield (Mrs. Jason Westerfield) of Camden, Maine. No further provenance is known.


The pieces have been photographed on a black panel.

The bird in the lower left corner is a familiar print.

Bird with curly tail feathers in a South Carolina quilt dated 1847
in the MESDA collection.

The bird appears three times in this quilt by Johanna Davis of Charleston,
South Carolina, documented in the Kentucky project.

The center square
(the only square) is a vase of flowers, a 
Chinese inspired design, distinctive with its curly knobs on the sides.

Colonial Williamsburg also has a set of  25 quilt blocks (quilt squares)
from a different donor.

 "probably intended,...for Mary B. Clarke before her marriage to David H. Porter in 1855." Many are signed and dated with locations in adjacent Aiken County, South Carolina and Richmond County, Georgia.

Here's a simpler version from the same set and the curlicues have been trimmed.
These blocks descended in the Clarke/Porter family.

The collector is just as interesting as the triangular blocks. I first noticed her in the 1952 article from Life Magazine that I showed in the last post.


Grace Hartshorn (1885-1974) who married three times was known as Peggy. With her last husband Jason Westerfield (1878–1959) she lived in Camden, Maine where they restored vintage houses decorated with antiques. She was quite a collector of textiles, books, manuscripts and other antiquities.
Another of her gifts to Colonial Williamsburg is this 18th-
century English sample book currently on display.

In the last years of her life she made gifts to various institutions, including Colonial Williamsburg, where the triangular blocks above were given the year she died. She also donated to the Smithsonian, the Brooklyn Museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Colby and Bowdoin Colleges.


Life pictured her with one of her "rags" a cut-out chintz bedcover. At the time she was a source for fabric designers looking for what we might call document prints. According to Life they called them rags. (I've never heard anyone call these rags.)

Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; 
Gift of The Jason and Peggy Westerfield Collection, 1969

Shaded blue and buff wrapper from her collection.

Westerfield donated many articles of dress to the Brooklyn Museum in 1969. In 2009 the Brooklyn collection was moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Well over a hundred items in the Costume Collection are from her.

"Lord Charlemont at the Provincial Review in Phoenix Park, 
Dublin, June 3, 1782" An Irish print. 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Donated in 1958. 

She also donated a 1950s reproduction of this print from Greef Fabrics to the Museum of Fine Arts.

A Greef reproduction called Parakeet.
They did a line called Document Hill with prints
from Westerfield's collections.

We can assume a collector as devoted as Peggy Westerfield bought her treasures all over the world, so we have no idea where she found the blocks at the top of the page. But I'm guessing South Carolina or nearby.

We can thank her for her generosity and the time she and her executors spent in dispersing her collections.
From the Brooklyn Museum Collection

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Repro Fabric Business in 1952


In 1952 Life Magazine did an article on reproduction prints, which had apparently become the fashion for decorating.

Spaghetti straps on the cover.


They showed several prints for furnishings with the implication that these were accurate reproductions of vintage fabrics. The idea at the time seems to have been to stylize the antique imagery.


The original print that inspired the Bird & Fruit above. 
Quite a few changes.

Here's an interpretation of a Portuguese print, a Chinoiserie.  Loose interpretation.

I can guess the source was something like this stripe printed for the Portuguese (export) market.

This Portuguese print from the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.


Ship print in a stripe, supposedly "an exact copy of ...a 19th Century French textile design."
I find this unlikely. It is interesting how the vogue for antiques became part of modernism.


Monticello from a print at Jefferson's home.


Read the article here:


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Amelia Lauck's Hewson Quilt?

Detail of stuffed work in an Amelia Lauck quilt.
We know quite a bit about Amelia Lauck who
has five quilts in two museums.

"Made 
By 
Amelia Lauck in
the 62 Year of her
Age April 15th
1823"

The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum has three quilts and Colonial Williamsburg two in their collections.

Two similar medallion quilts framed by Delectable Mountain pieced borders
in the DAR's collection.


And two very similar quilts in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.
All have intricate stuffed work quilting in the white borders.



While working on a post about quilts with John Hewson
panels I recalled this quilt from the Orlofsky collection
shown in Myron & Patsy Orlofsky's 1974 book Quilts in America.

Looking closely at the photo I noticed that this medallion
quilt in a Delectable Mountain design also had intricate stuffed
work quilting in the white borders.

As I recall the Orlofskys found this quilt at a New England sale.
It certainly looks like a sixth quilt from the Lauck workshop




Below is the third quilt attributed to Amelia Lauck (or her daughter-in-law) at the DAR Museum.

Mathematical Star Quilt, 1830s 
Amelia Heiskell Lauck (1760-1842) and/or Eliza Jane Sowers Lauck (1812-1872)
Winchester, Frederick County or Page County, Virginia
Gift of Sally Ann Lauck Harris, 2006.3.2
DAR Museum

The star is quite different, a later style.

 Amelia Lauck (1760-1842) by Jacob Frymire, MESDA collection

This is certainly a prodigious output for one woman, particularly in the quilting. We know she owned  slaves and possibly had them plus hired servants and employees doing needlework for her.

A link to one of her quilts at Colonial Williamsburg:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jeffie Beaver Smith's Prize Winning Quilts

Traditional Southern pattern in 20th-century fabrics.
Here's a classic Southern quilt with a lot of information about
the maker and the time it was made.


The online quilt dealer Buckboard Quilts has several quilts by Jeffie Beaver Smith of 
Violet Hill, Arkansas

Jeffie E. Beaver Smith (1894-1985)


In 1927 Jeffie won a prize for "Best Fancy Quilt" at the Calico Rock Annual Fair, a four-county fair in Arkansas.

You can buy a collection of Jeffie's quilts with photos of her and her prize certificate. Click here and scroll down:

Calico Rock in the 1950s

Izard County is in Northern Arkansas.


We often see these traditional designs made up in thirties fabric. Jeffie
was obviously interested in reproducing antique style.



She's supposed to have cleaned up every year at the local fair and across the state line in Oklahoma.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Pheasant & Palm Chintz # 4: Dating the Quilts

Star of Bethlehem or Mathematical Star with cut-out chintz corners.
Picture from an online auction.


The Broderie Perse applique here is cut from the Pheasant & Palm chintz.
Can the print help us date the quilt?

The earliest dating information on the print is a record in the Bannister Hall archives with a date of 1814, so most of the prints are dated about 1815. The quilts would have to date after that.
For years quilts made with the distinctive print were dated as "circa 1815." 

Montgomery County Maryland Historical Society

But this is a case when knowing when the fabric was printed is not as helpful as you'd hope. In fact using the fabric to date the quilt doesn't work here. It's more using the quilts to date the fabric---or at least when it was used. American quilts tend to be at least a decade later than the fabric. 

 The  U.S. and Britain were fighting a war in 1814, so the print was unlikely to have been shipped to American ports in a timely fashion during the War of 1812-1815.

Once in Margaret Cavigga's collection

This is the earliest date-inscribed American quilt with the print that I have found.

Quilt date-inscribed 1826 by Sarah Alexander 
Harris Gilmore, North Carolina
The North Carolina Project.


We see at least a ten year lag between the time the fabric was first printed in England and when it was used in a quilt in the United States. The fabric is thought to have been reprinted in the 1830s, which may explain why it was so popular here after 1825. 

Another possibility: A good deal of it was printed in England during the Napoleonic Wars that ended in 1815. Yardage may have sat in warehouses till shipping was revived and the fabric was shipped across the Atlantic. 

Or it may be that it was reprinted in the 1820s particularly for the "Brazilian" or South American market---the export market that favored exotic plants and animals. The export prints also reached U.S. ports.

Quilt dated 1830 by Sarah T C Miller,
Charleston South Carolina, Shelburne Museum Collection

American quilters continued to use the print for several decades. I have a few more date-inscribed examples in the 1830s.

Also date-inscribed 1830 by 
1830 Violet Alexander.
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

1833, Margaret Seyle Burgess, Charleston Museum

And many similar examples without dates on them.

No date, Cynthia Clementine Johnston, North Carolina Project & the Quilt Index

Rebecca Eloise Alexander McCoy, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Again from the NC project.

But not all are from the South

Tree of life by the Hasbrouck family, Ulster County, New York
Smithsonian Institution

Quilt documented in the Ohio project, attributed to Betsy Crocker 
105" x 105"

The Smithsonian has seven quilts from the Corwin family of Orange County,
New York.

People are no longer dating these cut-out chintz medallions to 1815 when the fabric
was printed, but to 1825 - 1840, the peak years of the cut-out chintz style here.

And then there are the later style quilts that might be 1840s or even '50s.

Center of a block style/medallion. Estimated date 1845.
Bruce or Maury Family, Virginia in the collection of 
Colonial Williamsburg.
See the whole quilt here:

And a fragment of an album style quilt at the Winterthur Museum with the print in the setting triangles along the side. The prints in the piecework look very "1840-1860." At first I thought the triangles might have been her last pieces at the bottom of the scrapbag but then I see the back is also the pheasant and palm print.

Back and front corner.
The fringe was probably added later when the quilt
was cut up to make drapes.
Let's say it's 1850; the quiltmaker was using a 35 year old print.
I do it all the time.

And then there are the innumerable wholecloth versions.
1825-1850???

I'd date American quilts featuring this print as "After 1825."



Kay Triplett has a list of quilts using the print in the book Chintz Quilts From the Poos Collection , page 283.

And that's the end of the posts about Pheasants & Palms.