Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Potted Plants with Reverse Applique

I saw this odd plant in a pot pattern
from the Connecticut project on the Quilt Index.
It's in the collection of the Darien Historical Society.
I'm assuming the white leaf is reverse appliqued,
a hole cut in the red.

The notes directed me to Myron & Patsy Orlofsky's book
Quilts in America
and here was a twin in black and white.
The caption says it is red on white.
It looks like a maple leaf in the reverse applique. 

It's the same quilt, which was in a private
collection in 1974 when the book was published.
Note the one rather ill-defined maple leaf on the right side here;
left side above in color.
The caption calls it Palm Tree Basket.
I posted the pair on my Facebook page and Sandra Starley and Sue Reich pointed out it is the same quilt.

Sue Reich's response: "This quilt in the Darien Historical Society is the same one in Orlofsky. I have a red and green appliqué in my collection with the motif appliquéd around the border. When CQSP documented the Darien collection, we recognized it immediately."

But here is a fraternal twin signed B.J.
It was  pictured in black and white in the magazine The Clarion in 1989. This one with a heart instead of a leaf is said to be from New York. The initials are done in that cross-stitch style applique that is often from New York.

A similar design from a border of a quilt supposedly made in New York.

Another New York quilt, sold at auction.

We could define a category of vegetation with reverse applique
with or without the container.

I'm inclined to see them as ferns rather than
palm trees. Here it is in a mid-19th century
applique from the New Jersey project---a cousin. 

Unknown source---same design

Apparently twins run in that family too.

The caption for the New Jersey quilt:
"The unusual applique pattern may be an Oak Leaf variation. One similar design, called Friendship Leaf, can be seen in an album quilt owned by the Pennsylvania Farm Museum and published in American Quilts and How to Make Them by Carter Houck and Myron Miller."

There are three of the OakTree/Fern/Palm Tree blocks in the sampler on the cover of the Houck & Miller book.

Here's one in 
an early example of a signature album quilt 
 by Harriet Miller Shinn dated 1841-1843.

The quilt is in the collection of Joyce Fullerton Smith.

Vaguely similar from a sampler shown at a long-ago meeting
of the Studio Quilt Study Group

Another block from the same quilt.

Well this one looks like a palm tree. It's from an album quilt dated 1846 for Lydia Rounsavel.
Lydia Wolverton married Hezekiah Rounsavel on January 22, 1843 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
The photos are from Stella Rubin's online shop.

There's another tree in a pot with reverse applique
on this quilt

From another album

Below: The closest identification I could find in my Encyclopedia of Applique

#40.41 in the strange plants in pots category was
published as Sahara Rose in the Nancy Cabot quilt
column of the Chicago Tribune in 1936 (left here).

The pot is similar. 
Sahara Rose is a lovely name implying palms and cactuses, so Nancy Cabot saw it as some kind of desert plant. I find that the words were in the air at the time. Irving Berlin wrote a song called My Sahara Rose in the 1920s.

"My Little Bimbo Down on the Bimbo Isle"
Never heard it. Don't wanna.

But back to Sahara Rose and the variations.
And it's a very loose category.

Something that could haunt a frustrated librarian.

A sprouted heart inside a heart.
And now it's not really reverse applique but a
great example of positive/negative imagery.

The center block in a quilt  (1840-1900?) from an online auction.
There are probably more of these loose variations found in borders like this one from the Museum
of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Quilt Index.

From Northwest Auctions

The original observation, which has led so far afield.

UPDATE: I found another example:
Quilt signed Brooklyn in collection of International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

Very mysterious.


  1. I had no idea there were enough of these reverse-applique-in-the-middle to form a whole genre! And no idea such big designs were appliqued in borders either. Very interesting. Some beautiful quilts rarely seen.

  2. Fabulous applique.For me these are very tricky.