Saturday, August 8, 2009

Buff and Blue


EBay, like the rest of the economy, has been suffering from some deflation. It's encouraging (I think!) to see a quilt bid up to astronomical heights. I got a note yesterday that eBay is sorry I didn't win this album quilt for $3,349. I'm not sorry as I like to spend about $60 for a quilt.

It is a great quilt, over 100 inches square, possibly from the 1840s, sold by the eBay quilt dealer French Antiques. It is full of fondue or rainbow prints in the blue and buff color combination produced by Prussian blue dye. These large-scale stripes and plaids were quite popular for women's dresses in the 1840s and '50s. Dyers loved the palette because both shades came from the same dyestuff. The blues could be quite bright shaded to dull and the browns from rich caramel color to a light tan (buff).


In reading 18th-century English history I find there is political meaning as well as fashion sensibility to buff and blue. Those were the colors of the American revolutionary war uniform. The Whig party in England, opposed to King George III, also wore the color combination. The fabulous Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire and her friend Frances Crewe wore buff and blue in electioneering for the Whigs, an activity that caused this cartoon backlash depicting Georgiana as trading kisses for votes. Mrs. Crewe, wearing buff and blue on the left, made a famous toast to the Whig politicians in 1784:"Buff and blue and all of you."

This quilt is fifty years later but the print's palette remained known by the alliterative name of Buff and Blue. So for those who bid on this quilt---a toast: "Buff and blue and all of you."

12 comments:

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

ooo, love that quilt! The color combination is so great :-)

laurie said...

I love those prussian blue/rainbow fabrics! What a lovely quilt! Did you see the recent movie about the Duchess of Devonshire starring Kiera Knightly, Ralph Fiennes, and Dominic Cooper? It's wonderful. Despite the fact that my husband thought it would be another one of my costume anglo/romances, he watched it with me. We both loved it. Learned a little bit of British history that I was ignorant of.

Angie said...

I have always appreciated that color combination, but I did not know there was a history behind it. Thank you for the lesson!

Vivian said...

Beautiful quilt, and that combination of colors is a personal favorite.
I checked out the antique quilts currently offered by French Antiques. It's a real feast for the eyes (and some would be a real drain on the checkbook).

YankeeQuilter said...

That is a beautiful quilt so I'm not surprised it went for so much...I guess I'll have to be happy with my few blocks with Prussian Blue.

Kim said...

I literally gasped when I saw that quilt! Oh my!!! I think you would do well to design a line of fabric around those yummy fabs! I'll be first in line to buy! :o)

WoolenSails said...

Beautiful quilt and fabrics. That would be a fun one to reproduce.

Debbie

Ann said...

What a superb quilt, and a really interesting informative post too. I would love some of those rainbow style fabrics as well - any plans to design a new range,Barbara? Thanks again, Ann.

Barbara Brackman said...

Unfortunately those rainbow prints are hard to reproduce which is why you don't see any. The originals had such a smooth transition from dark to light or dull to bright but when you try it with today's synthetic dyes and screen printing you don't get that look. But I would love to try it.

The Rabbit Factory said...

Thanks for the history lesson...buff and blue...what a gorgeous color combination!

Brenda said...

I love the color combination, thanks for the historical info.

2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

I am preparing to make a quilt in this color combo and you know, I just think I may steal that phrase for the title.
wonderful lesson. Thanks.