Sunday, June 28, 2015

Folk Art Fakery

The Quilt Detective doesn't get many shady cases.

But there's some forgery---- or perhaps just misrepresentation--- that's been going on in the antique quilt market for over a decade. The code of the detective requires we solve this case.

Quilt offered at Cowan's Auctions June, 2015, auction

"American. A child's quilt with calico patches and 
African-American figures."

The auction house grouped this quilt with another small quilt and a piece of needlework.
Estimated value for all three: $75 - $150. The description and price seems accurate for a recent tied, mini-quilt.

Another version.

Here's a third example in a recently ended online auction.

 Bidding was
to begin at $475. Here's the auction description:

23 1/2" W X 32 1/2"L




Fortunately nobody bid on it.

In 2004, Darwin posted a note on the Quilt History List about one that sold after brisk bidding in an online auction.
"I agree that this piece is not very old. There were a lot of these floating around about 10 years ago. Well, I guess they have a little age but are they worth the price?"
What kind of price? One of my students brought one to class about 15 years ago. She was quite proud of this piece of African-American folk art for which she had paid $1,000.

What's it worth?
I hadn't the heart to tell her: "About $35."---whatever a small, tied, comforter in a "primitive" pattern copied from an old quilt would be worth.

I did tell her that these little primitives are quite common. Note how many I've found at auction on this page. The fabrics look to be about 1990--lots of cranberries and blues that were popular in those years. 
A fourth version

The prints and the white plain muslin have been tea-dyed front and back to look old.

I've only seen tied versions, no quilted pieces. Most have this same distressed cotton backing.
Are these coming from the same source?

To anyone with a good eye, these fabric don't look early 20th century. 

The prints look like 1980 fabrics, bleached-out and tea-dyed, a technique I used to teach before reproduction prints were available.

I indexed the pieced human figure in BlockBase and my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns as BlockBase #940.5: "Unnamed from quilt ca 1900 in Bishop's New Discoveries."

The 1975 book pictured a variety of
collectible quilts from dealers, collectors and museums.

Here's a snapshot of page 54.

"Pieced Quilt, southern Missouri, c 1900, 
73-1/2" x 71" (America Hurrah Antiques)"

Could this pieced design actually be a circa 1900  quilt?
There is a small category of vintage quilts with pieced humans.

But I didn't find many published pieced figures to index. This nine patch
from the Ladies Art Company catalog in 1898, Oklahoma Boomer,
recalls the land rush in Oklahoma.

See more about Block Lotto's 2009 version of the Oklahoma Boomer here:

University of Nebraska collection from the Quilt Index,
about 1930

Above,  an early 20th-century quilt which
is probably a sampler of Ladies' Art Company patterns.
There's an Oklahoma Boomer block on the left side.

So let's assume the original quilt in the 1975 book is an authentic antique.

We know the source for the original. But what about the copies?

  • Are these forgeries made by one person? 

  • Or is it a pattern sold and then stitched by people who love a pseudo-folk-art look?

We need some crowd sourcing on these questions.
  • Have you ever made one of these?

  • Where did the pattern come from? 

I've looked and cannot find a similar pattern for sale now, used or new. My friend Bettina remembers it as a commercial pattern from the 1980s but....

Looking forward to the comments.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Morris Jewels: First yardage

Look what showed up on the front porch.

I'm not talking about the amaryllis blooms, although
that was another pleasant surprise. 

It's the fabric--- The Morris Jewels from Moda.
We re-colored the Best of Morris prints in jewel tones

Classic Morris in saturated color.

This is the first yardage shipped by air.

Jade and emerald shades.

The Morris Jewels
Scheduled for July delivery to quilt shops.

This line may be hard to find. Only select shops pre-ordered it. Ask at your local quilt store. It's going to go fast.

It certainly went fast at my stitch group.

Georgann took a lot of the red, called Ruby.

We cut it up and made our own fat quarter bundles.

It's hard to convey the vibrance of that greenish yellow,
which is called Topaz.

Stay tuned for quilts made from it.

See swatches here:

Monday, June 22, 2015

My New/Old Applique Sampler: The Feather Crown

Applique sampler, about 1840-1860
 I'm still trying to get a good picture. Too rainy to hang it outside here.

I recently bought this quilt from a vendor at our local guild's annual quilt show. One doesn't come across many applique samplers so I HAD to have it.

It looked Maryland to me. There are no signatures on the blocks.

Is it Maryland? I began looking for quilts with similar blocks.

The central block is a beautiful appliqued wreath.
It's conventional applique rather than reverse applique,
which is sometimes used for this pattern.

I looked it up in my Encyclopedia of Applique and found it right at the beginning of the wreath section as 1.12. Ruth Finley showed an example in her 1929 book Old Patchwork Quilts but didn't give it a name.

Finley didn't show many album quilts. She called this one call this one "Seek No Further," a name that refers to the sampler of patterns rather than any of the individual designs . That sampler, owned by Katherine Willis in the 1920s, has a double dog-tooth appliqued border.

Finley described the patterns: "a "Charter Oak" block in each corner [with "Garden Wreath blocks"] flanked by "Feather Crowns." 

I didn't see this when I originally indexed applique blocks so I guess #1.12 should be named Feather Crown too.

Quilt descended in the Mitchell, Hooper, Stump and 
Magraw families of Cecil Country, Maryland, dated 1847.

I've turned this image on its side to 
compare it to the Finley example.

Freeman's Auctions offered  a  remarkably similar sampler dated 1847, signed by "Sarah A.P. Frazier of Deer Creek, Harriet Wills, Rosa Neilson, Caroline K. Hall, Frannie Wilmot of Baltimore, Eliz.C. Chew," according to the auction description. 

The wreaths alternate with Baltimore-style blocks.
Each wreath is framed by a quartet of leaves.
The border is a single dog-tooth.

Note the Photinia pattern of crossed leaves and the pattern Finley called Charter Oak, again in a corner.

Another Feather Crown, one of two in a quilt dated 1847.
Quilt supposed to have been made for Rev. John Christian
Keener (born in Baltimore into a Methodist family February 7, 1819-1906).
Keener later became a bishop. 

Finley showed another variation of the wreath, 
which included a spiral shape in the center.

She called the repeat block quilt with a double dog-tooth border "The Feather Crown".  "Appliqued and pieced of red and white." Finley described it as having "a 'ragged Robin' patch in the center of each 'crown'." At the time it was owned by Madge Farquar Holstein.

Colorized detail
Note one of the spirals has 8 arms, the rest have six.

Carrie Hall copied a wreath with six petals for her version of the block, published in her 1935 book Romance of the Patchwork Quilt.

Feather Crown with Ragged Robin in Center by Carrie A. Hall,
Collection of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

A ragged robin plant, based on five petals.

The appliqued wreath is obviously derived from the quilted feather designs
found in quilts dating back to the 18th century. My new quilt has
quilted feather wreaths too.

Anita Schackleford's contemporary version.
The appliqued wreath is not a common pattern,
while the quilted design is often seen.

Here's a spectacular mid-19th century example of the applique wreath
sold by Cowan's Auctions.

Marsha Radtke came across an old album quilt in an attic south of Baltimore in the 1970s. It's worn but there is a Turkey red feather wreath in the top left section.

Here's a detail. 

Marsha wrote:
" I decided to replicate the patterns and fabrics as closely as I could to preserve this unique quilt for future generations. This quilt became the subject of my AQS published book, A Baltimore Album: 25 Appliqué Patterns."

She calls her copy The Pastor's Attic

And one last feather crown: Mary Brown included two wreath blocks in the corners of her extraordinary sampler.

Quilt signed
"Mary Brown made in the 75th year of her age. 1851."

The authors of A Maryland Album discuss this quilt at length. Mary Brown, a  Quaker dressmaker who spent a good deal of her life in Cecil County, may have also lived in Baltimore. Israel Reynolds
apparently commissioned this quilt. It's also inscribed "I.R., 1852."

Read more about the quilt at Christie's Auctions site:

applique with two feather crowns.
copy by hortense beck

Below is Hortense Beck's interpretation of the Mary Brown quilt:

Mary Brown # 3
Reproduction by Hortense Beck of Topeka,
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

Sam's Owl, reproduction by Barbara Korengold, of
another Mary Brown applique with two feather crowns.

Barbara's wreath.

You can see why I had to have the antique quilt with the Feather Crown center. Any thoughts on whether it's a Cecil County pattern?

 Print this out for an 8" pattern.
Click on the photo. Save it to a word file or a jpg file.