QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Friday, September 15, 2017

Quilts Dated 1850---Border Styles


Quilt date-inscribed 
"August 29, 1850
C..P..Davis"
From an online auction.

I've been posting my pictures of quilts date-inscribed 1850 to my Pinterest page.
https://www.pinterest.com/materialculture/1850-quilts-date-inscribed/
Sorting by date gives me an overall picture of the style trends of the time and sometimes a quilt just looks wrong. It must somehow be misdated.

Here's one advertised as inscribed 1850 made in Schenectady, New York.
It just looks earlier than that to me. I wish I had a picture of the date.

Seeing something misdated is always good for the quilt detective, as it makes one consider one's assumptions.
Why does it look older?
1) Color scheme---too subtle. No plain white fabric for contrast.
2) Too much chintz and larger scale prints
3) In the border the sawtooth pieces are just too big.
4) Whole border style is wrong for the date. Way out of fashion.


I try to save a photo of the actual date inscribed
on the quilt as in this one that says
"D x G
Jerusha Johnson
May 10 th 
1850"
My interpretation of the inscription may be wrong but that certainly looks like 1850 to me if not Jerusha.

A detail of Jerusha's worn quilt.

The style fits with the date. Red and green (the reds are both Turkey red and madder-style red)
Intensive quilting and a pieced sawtooth border leaving lots of white for quilting.

1850, Mary T. Barnes, South Carolina
Smithsonian Institution.
I haven't seen the date on this one but the caption in
the online catalog indicates it's dated and signed in ink
in a corner block.

Mary Barnes put a chintz striped border on her red and green quilt, a rather old-fashioned choice for such an up-to-date center. But as Laurel Horton discovered years ago in doing a South Carolina quilt  project, coastal Carolinians were inclined to use those borders after they'd become unfashionable elsewhere. Mary liked that border so much she didn't care if she had to cut it in asymmetrical fashion. She SHOULD have used a border like Jerusha's if she wanted to win any prizes in 1850.


Here's another that illustrates the importance of borders to dating a quilt by style. It was advertised as dated 1850 by Elizabeth Culp for her grandson, the euphoniously named Martin Luther Culp. The colors are right for 1850 and so is the pattern. But the border is a little suspicious to the quilt detective. Those triple, quadruple and quintuple borders tend to be after 1870. This remarkable border is 7 strips of varying sizes. I've always thought the sewing machine with its ability to sew long seams fast contributed to the fashion for multiple strip borders so you tend to see them after the Civil War when the machine became a standard tool.


But you can see the inked inscription is actually in that border. So it must be 1850. Somebody had to be a trend setter. 
Fortunately for the skeptic the photo of the inscription is so large that you can actually read it online, which I recently did.


"Martin Luther Culp's quilt.
Made and presented to him
By his Grandmother in her 72nd Year
in 1880. Elizabeth Culp"


That's 1880. I knew it!


I am hoping the recipient was this Martin Luther Culp, know as Luther. Born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1848, he was the town marshal in Escondido, California about 100 years ago. Here's his grave:

His house still stands in Escondido:


It looks like he and his brothers Reuben and George Morris Culp arrived in Escondido in 1890. They may have left Adams County, Pennsylvania for the west in 1880 when Luther's quilt is dated. A quilt made for a Reuben H. Culp, also dated 1880, is pictured in the book from the Adams County project. Inked in the corner:
"Reuben H. Culp
Feb 12, 1880"

This is the only photo in the book of Reuben's quilt. It's an Irish Chain, attributed by the family to Rebecca Howell Culp. There are a good many Culps (Kolbs) in Adams County and untangling the web of relationships is formidable, but I am betting Marshal Culp above is related to them all and so is the 1880 quilt.

1 comment:

Susie Q said...

What FUN to discover the pieces that make up a quilt. And the ref to grave finders, census and all that is my new addition.... genealogy..!!!! Have noted just like in genealogy to keep an open mind when looking at quilts.