Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Quilts at Boston's Mechanical Association Fairs


Is that a quilt hanging in the balcony during the 1878 Fair put on
 by the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association?

The new United States of America established Mechanic Associations to promote domestic industry and donate to charitable causes. Boston's association, begun in 1795, hosted fairs over the years showcasing American manufacturing. Hoping to attract a female audience the exhibits also included home crafts done by women.

1847 Advertising

Detroit Institute of the Arts

Early fairs were held in Faneuil Hall, Boston's primary public space.

Winning women's work in the 1837 fair.

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (1775-1852)

Former First Lady Mrs. John Quincy Adams showed a handsome bedquilt deserving a diploma.

Some years a temporary iron bridge was constructed between two neighboring halls.

The association built their own display space after the Civil War.

Mechanic Hall

A few months after the Civil War ended the 10th fair showed several quilts.

Mrs. F.V. Bell contributed a "Union bed-quilt---a magnificent article,---in which the National shield, composed of pieces of red, white and blue cloth, is inclosed in a circle of stars of red and white. On the outer edge of this circle is still another of blue stars."

Sarah Peters of Cambridgeport showed a cotton quilt of 25 squares "with ornaments of Turkey red... elaborately wrought."

Miss A. Bennett of Lawrence entered a quilt with a dark ground, "bordered by a delicate blue fringe. A beautiful star, encircled in squares of patchwork, adorned with different colored pieces in the form of sprays and twigs, forms the principal device of the article." We can assume this is a Star of Bethlehem or what was called in Boston a Rising Sun.
See a post here on similar quilts:

Miss Bennett's quilt may have looked something like this.

It must have been an impressive show.

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