Friday, April 21, 2017

Tree of Liberty

Detail from Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album Quilt, 1859, 
Esther Matthews (1776-1866), Virginia Quilt Museum. 

The tree is labeled "Tree of Liberty & United States." Thirty-five circles may represent the 33 states in the Union in 1859.

I know several readers are sewing along with the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Quilt.
Buy the pattern here:

Wendy's using her favorite color---chrome orange.

I love the Liberty Tree block (dots!) so another example 
caught my eye in this old ad from The Clarion.

In the 1980s dealer Susan Parrish had a sampler for sale, dated
1851, attributed to Lincoln County, Missouri.

At the bottom center:
a tree with 18 fruits.

I have a small picture file of tree designs with round fruits.

Block from one documented by the Arizona project.
Made by Olivia Tennessee Boaz in Kentucky,

Here's another tree on the diagonal from a Baltimore Album Quilt in 
the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Detail of a quilt from the Bohannon family.
Tennessee project & the Quilt Index

15 Apples

This one was pictured in Anita Schorsch's Plain & Fancy.

I'm not counting those apples.

Nineteenth-century quiltmakers would have been familiar with the image of a tree with round fruit symbolizing virtues 

Particularly the Temperance Tree,
here in a lithograph.

The apples are labeled with attributes.
Prints above and below from the Library of Congress.

The Tree of Liberty by British cartoonist James Gillray.
Those in favor of the monarchy might view a Liberty Tree as
a devilish temptation.

The image was also used with genealogical charts:
a Medici family tree.

Linda Ardnt's Liberty Tree.

See some of the blocks quilters are making at the Shenandoah Valley quilt blog:

A few years ago Edyta Sitar at Laundry Basket Quilts produced pre-cut applique shapes for the Shenandoah Valley quilt. See more about them at the museum's shop.


  1. I love circles and trees- what a great post this morning. Thanks

  2. Love these quilts and they are a great inspiration! Thanks for sharing

  3. Love the Liberty Tree, but then I could applique circles all day (and often do). Thanks for posting one of my blocks. I have had a ball with this one. (No pun intended)

  4. The patterns for the SVBAQ are available here:
    100% of the proceeds go to the museum.
    Thank you for the mention and support!

  5. I have always loved the tree of life designs and still have a rug I designed, to finish.