QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Archie Butt Quilt Contest 1911



In 1911 Major Archibald Butt and Albert Howell
conducted a great Georgia quilt contest.

The President (left) & Archie Butt strolling in Washington about 1910.

Butt, Georgia born, was aide-de-camp to President William Howard Taft. He and his companion Francis Millet were building a new home in Washington D.C. and Archie decided he needed a quilt for the guest room.

Crazy quilt on a chair. 

The story is told that Butt, Taft and friend Albert Howell of Atlanta were out for a drive in Georgia when they came across a quilt hanging outside a rural cabin. Butt was struck by the quilt and told Howell he needed an "old-fashioned Georgia quilt" for the bed. One article said he wanted a quilt like the kind that were made in the country before the war (Civil War, we assume, although he was born five months after the war was over.)

From Georgia Quilts: Piecing Together a History

Howell, whose brother's family owned the Atlanta Constitution, decided to find Archie a quilt. (Partly as a joke, he recalled.) He put an ad in the Constitution and other Georgia papers.
"Wanted An old - fashioned country quilt, for which a handsome price will be paid. - - . The quilt is to cover the bed of Major Archibald Butt, aide to President Taft."
Apparently hundreds of Georgians brought quilts for Howell to look at. On May 22, 1911 he and friends chose a pair of quilts for the Major. Newspaper articles described their options:
Some of the designs submitted are: "The Sunflower, the "Possum" Paw. the "Basket Quilt. the "Log Cabin. the"Lone Star," the "Brick Quilt." the "Hexagon." the "Sugar Loaf," the "Nine Patch," the "Star Quilt, the "Block Quilt, the "Bear's Paw" and the "Bow Knot" ...


Fortunately a photo was published of the winning quilt. The "Double Sunflower" design was
made by Mrs. A. E. Collum, Decatur, Georgia. She said there were 5,000 pieces in it.

Second place went to a hexagon quilt by Mrs. J. M. Bentley of Atlanta.

The handsome price: $100 each, guessed the Richmond Times Dispatch on May 24, the day after the judging. Somebody at the Times Dispatch thought the whole thing was silly. $100 was too much to pay for an old-fashioned quilt.
"Besides, what does Major Butts want with these quilts?... Doubtless they are as heavy as lead and as ugly as a mud fence. Besides it is Major Butt's business to sleep under an army blanket...."

Butt and Taft were close friends.

Archie Butt and Francis Davis Millet died on the Titanic in 1912, returning from a European vacation.

A fountain in their honor stands near the White House. The quilts went to Butt's niece who lived in England.

The Window Seat by Francis Davis Millet
Francis Davis Millet was a painter and sculptor.

The Widow by Francis Davis Millet

Read more about the great Georgia quilt contest of 1911 here in Home Progress magazine:

https://books.google.com/books?id=O9VFAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA3-PA22&lpg=RA3-PA22&dq=archibald+butt+quilt+georgia&source=bl&ots=LQ2k-xelBc&sig=W_2OIl9aQiGDth1Gu2dzcJYyD58&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjawrzO6e3TAhVH5iYKHVGZD54Q6AEIWzAM#v=onepage&q=archibald%20butt%20quilt%20georgia&f=false

And read the nasty article in the Richmond newspaper here:

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1911-05-24/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=1789&sort=relevance&rows=20&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&index=12&words=Butt+quilts&proxdistance=5&date2=1924&ortext=&proxtext=butt+quilt&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2

6 comments:

Material Girl said...

What an interesting story! Thank you for all your interesting posts- I really enjoy them!

Nann said...

Thanks for the story, Barbara. I'm further intrigued by the Home Progress story (after Archie B) about the "sixteen Chicago grandmothers" and their school of quilting.

Jayne Honnold said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this interesting story.

TxGal said...

Thanks Barbara, your glimpses into our quilt history are always a welcome break in my work day!

Nancy said...

Great story!! Thanks!

Susie Q said...

Compared to the nasty we have endured the last six months in the political realm that article is delightful.