Blocks dated 1841-1842 Ella Maria Deacon (1811-1894)
Mount Holly, New Jersey
Art Institute of Chicago
We had a good time recently in one of the Social Media groups showing sampler quilts, with some discussion of what the definition is.
1850 for Benoni Pearce,
Pauling, New York
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution
Sampler Quilt: A composition of blocks in different patchwork patterns.
Then I wondered what's the earliest American sampler quilt in my files of date inscribed quilts. The first problem is defining a sampler quilt more narrowly.
Quilt dated 1810 Margaret Gundacker
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Collection of Molly at Fourth Corner Antiques
Are these samplers or medallions?
1824 by Mary Taylor, International Quilt Museum
Ten blocks of cut out chintz.
Does this count? It's patchwork designs whether or not
there are seams dividing them.
Quilt dated 1832 by Mary Taylor,
Mary Taylor's later quilt is done in similar style.
Mary seems to be on to something.
Rosanna McCullough, 1832,
Collection of the North Carolina Museum of History
Cut-out chintz applique framing the popular fruit basket panel.
But maybe this isn't a sampler; it's a framed medallion.
Dated 1831 - 1832
Eliza Smith-Goltho-A. D. 1831 Age 11, -
Eliza Smith-Mendon-A. D. 1832
Arizona Project & the Quilt Index
This looks more like what we think of as a sampler, but my first guess is it's English by the openness of the design.
My second thought: I bet those blocks on the north/south axis are older, dated embroidery that Eliza incorporated into a later quilt. Finding Eliza Smith would be hopeless but there is indeed a town named Goltho in Lincolnshire, England. There's a Mendon, Massachusetts but also a Manton in Lincolnshire.
Collection of the Concord Museum in Massachusetts
This may be the earliest sampler quilt in the files. Multiple designs,
blocks the same size....
The problem with using date-inscribed quilts is that the dated blocks may be older than the quilt itself, way older.
UPDATE: Pam Weeks, the authority on blocks quilted and bound (potholder quilts) says this is one of those very New England types.
This quilt sold at an auction is dated 1835-1838.
The sampler idea is certainly linked to the block repeat concept so samplers became fashionable as the block/square format took over about 1840.
1838, Mary Wilhelm, 15 years old
Betsey Telford-Goodwin's Rocky Mountain Quilts Shop
Most of us would agree that Mary's quilt is a sampler. And because it's so stylistically consistent and signed in the center the date of 1838 probably reflects when Mary was working on the quilt.
Mary might get the honor of making the earliest dated sampler quilt.
Abby Palmer, Maine
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Does embroidery count?
1841 for Cornelius Cuyler
Philadelphia Museum of Art
1841 For the Dandy family
Bordentown, New Jersey
Ella Maria Deacon and her New Jersey friends might
win the prize for earliest sampler.
Note the cactus block, cut-out chintz still done, but pieced blocks and conventional applique are starting to dominate.
Collector Sandra Starley owns this one dated 1842.
Same cactus fabric in center second row from top
Both these 1842 quilts fit everybody's idea of a sampler quilt. After that---a deluge.
Quilt dated 1892, Lynn, Massachusetts
Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches is patterning the Ella Maria Deacon quilt.