Thursday, April 11, 2013

Borders as a Dating Clue

Pieced block, appliqued border, probably 1840-1880

I spent a few pages on the topic of borders in my 1989 book Clues in the Calico, and I haven't much to add to those conclusions. I thought I'd expand on the principles though, because one can add a lot more images on a blog.

Indigo compass or pincushion pattern
with appliqued border.
Most of these photos are from online auctions.

Here's one weak clue I mentioned:

"One more observation that can serve a a weak clue to date: the combination of a pieced border on an applique quilt (or vice versa) is more typical of a pre-twentieth century quilt. [20th century quilters] are far more likely to match applique borders to applique quilts and pieced orders to pieced quilts."

Based on the border I am guessing mid-19th-century.

But you don't see that many antique quilts with the contrasting border technique.


Cut out chintz and pieced border, probably 1840-1860
Border may have been added later it's so incongruous.

Indigo pieced sunflowers and appliqued border
probably 1840-1880

A pieced quilt with an appliqued border
from the Riverside Museum in California, dated 1852.

Swag borders with pieced designs

Applique with pieced borders

It's much more difficult to date a quilt from a photo because you are going on style alone rather than adding important clues like fabric design, quilting pattern, binding, backing, etc.

But this contrast of piecing and applique is a style clue---a weak clue to a date before 1880.

What seems to be more important in dating is the elaborateness of the border. Quilters working after 1880 were not so likely to make such complicated applique borders. A topic for another post.


Ann Brooks said...

I read the book years ago. Thanks for posting so many photos. You're right. How interesting to see so many together and compare them.

Janet said...

Love,love to see all you pictures! An interesting post - Thanks!

Anonymous said...

And now for some comic relief- when I saw the title of this in my inbox, I thought I was going to find out juicy details about the woman's dating life! I was so intrigued! Completely not thinking of how to determine age of quilts! Silly me.

ANudge said...

I have been wrestling with the fact that the quilts I love do not have plain borders as one so commonly sees in the past decades - sort of like a picture frame. Just do not call to me. I like them with no borders or something more interesting. Seeing the photos of the post, I felt everything fall into place and realize this is what I really love - pieced center with applique borders. Thank you for clarifying this for me. I'm so glad to follow your blog - learn something every time.

Rosa said...

Love those quilts and thanks for share them and all about them.

Every Stitch said...

Wonderful examples - I love all the different borders! thanks

Judymc said...

I've had your book for many years and I need to read it again. These posts about the antique quilts are so informative. I'm really enjoying them!