Friday, October 5, 2012

Quilts at the Metropolitan Fair

 
Let's take a little trip in time back to spring, 1864 and the Metropolitan Fair in New York City. I've been looking at a lot of old photos because I named my Moda Civil War reproduction collection Metropolitan Fair. Gather up your hoopskirts and let's trot over to 14th Street.
 
 
14th Street
 
We can find many photos and accounts:
 
"We may begin very properly outside of the Fair buildings. Fourteenth Street, at this point, was unusually light, by reason of a number of gaslamps posted along in front of the entrances...
There is a little crush at the entrance, a confusion of color, a low sweeping sound of silk breaking through the level hum of voices, and we are borne, apparently between two high board-fences, into the great hall of the Fair...
 
A Display possibly from 
Alexandra, Princess of Wales
 
 
Most persons, perhaps, experience very much the same feeling on going for the first time into a great bazaar, — such a multitude of objects press at once upon the senses that for a time nothing is seen...distinctly. One is dazed, and comes back to the usual state of self-possession as if waking out of sleep. Ladies will grasp the arm of a companion a little more tightly, and sometimes may be seen with heightened color and quick breath gazing around, in a wild, wondering way that betrays their feeling.
 
 
A photograph of the "Hartford Table"
looks like an antique booth at a show today.
But order settles out of confusion, and little by little we learn to distinguish the parts which go to make up the whole."

There was certainly a lot of stuff to see. When I enlarge the photos I begin to distinguish the parts that make up the whole. Is that a quilt on the left?
  
 
Could those be quilts right in front of the "Piano made from Wood Taken from the Charter Oak"?
That is probably some kind of banner on the left...On the right?
 
During wartime there were, of course, many martial displays. Here are swords artfully arranged.


With a quilt on the table.

I'd imagine it's an Album block or Chimney Sweep
something like this, but with sashing.


The arch above this display says "Fire Department" and the caption says it is a New Jersey display. The photographer: J. Gurney & Sons.

Two (?) quilts
 
The one on the right sort of like this Railroad Crossing.
 
 
And here is another view of the New Jersey Department.
Under the arch on the left a woman waits for customers. Under the arch on the right...

A bunch of quilts.

A pineapple applique, something pieced
in the center and a basket with sashing.
 

A lot like these New Jersey antiques
 
 
See more about the basket quilt, which was made in 1864, here:
 Could it be the EXACT SAME quilt?
 
Just what these quilts are doing at the Metropolitan Fair I cannot say. They may have been for sale. Or perhaps they were on display, valued for age or connection to a famous person.
 
 
Two quilts were described in the exhibit at the Curiosity Shop, "that bewildering conglomerate," where one could view "a quilt that had once covered the beautiful Mary of Scotland [and]...a patchwork quilt of calico — bought during the Revolutionary War, when calico was a dollar and a quarter a yard."
 
 
And in another display---an item made notable by the age of the maker: "A silk quilt representing a flag made by a lady seventy years old."


Too much to see. I think I'll run by the Jacob's Well booth and get me a lemonade.


13 comments:

virtualquilter said...

Barbara, What a fabulous photo, with some wonderful quilts scattered everywhere!

WoolenSails said...

Wonderful photos of the fair and the quilts that were there. I will have to remember to look for quilts in photos when I go through them.

Debbie

suzanne said...

It looks like everyone wanted to scatter quilts about their booths. Were they an attraction? Were they made for the occasion by women associated with the activity presented in the booth? I know there were needlework contests at these fairs, is this how the Fair displayed the entries? I'd love to know. Perhaps someday some research in NYC can be done. BTW your basket quilt has handles starting inside the edges of the basket; the one at the Fair has handles flush with the edges of the basket. These quilts seems so modern to me, because so familiar I guess, but the Civil War seems so remote. Thanks for all the fun, letting us attend.

suzanne said...

It looks like everyone wanted to scatter quilts about their booths. Were they an attraction? Were they made for the occasion by women associated with the activity presented in the booth? I know there were needlework contests at these fairs, is this how the Fair displayed the entries? I'd love to know. Perhaps someday some research in NYC can be done. BTW your basket quilt has handles starting inside the edges of the basket; the one at the Fair has handles flush with the edges of the basket. These quilts seems so modern to me, because so familiar I guess, but the Civil War seems so remote. Thanks for all the fun, letting us attend.

Byrd said...

What a fun post to read - and those pictures! I used to work in that area so it was quite a treat to see the exteriors. Thank you and take care! Byrd

Christine M said...

Those photos are so amazing. I can't believe they are so old.

soggybottomflats said...

Hi Barbara, I am sorry to write you here but I couldn't figure out how to email you.
I saw a picture of the most amazing crazy quilt ever...it was made in the 1800's, in San Francisco by a lady doctor. The 4 corners folded up to reveal another crazy quilt on the corners...very detailed and wonderful to look at. Do you have any idea of what or where this quilt is? Any help at all is so very welcome. Thank you so much for your time, Elaine Christian
echristian851@gmail.com

The Civil War Quilter said...

If time travel were possible, wouldn't you love to to go back to the opening day of the Metropolitan fair! That would be awesome. Love your pictures!

Vicki Greisman said...

I am writing a paper comparing the people who made quilts/or sewed for soldiers in the Civil War to the people who are sewing for soldiers in the present day. Quilts were sometimes sold as fundraisers at sanitary fairs. Perhaps the quilts in the pictures were present for that reason.

Barbara Brackman said...

"the most amazing crazy quilt ever...it was made in the 1800's, in San Francisco by a lady doctor. The 4 corners folded up to reveal another crazy quilt on the corners."
Sorry I don't recall this quilt. Maybe someone else will.

Barbara Brackman said...

Vicki
I think many of those quilts were for sale. The purpose of the fair was to raise money and aside from antiquities like Mary Queen of Scot's fabled quilt I would guess the rest of these were for sale.

Virginia said...

And in another display---an item made notable by the age of the maker: "A silk quilt representing a flag made by a lady seventy years old."

This quilt was very likely a quilt by Margaret Dodge now in the DAR Museum
http://www.quiltindex.org/basicdisplay.php?kid=46-7A-D4

The museum has documentation that it was on display at the fair.

Anonymous said...

I am piecing the Arnold's Attic quilt and I have come to a snafu and wondered if somehow this was published inaccurately. I have finished the middle section with two tan and rust borders. I am working on the blocks W, X, Y, Z. I have the 9 patches complete and am trying to assemble the blocks around the nine patch. It calls for 4 1/4 inch block cut on diagonal each way and then they are sewn to attach to the nine patch and the 3 1/2 inch squares. My 9 patch is 3 1/2 inches but the diagonals are (4 1/4) are finished at 6 1/4. They will not fit together. What am I not seeing? Thanks Elaine Barnett mimaadre@aol.com