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.


  1. You've definitely found a cluster of these motifs in Cecil County. Few show up on BAQs or Baltimore quilts: only 2 in Dunton p. 139 & 159, 1 in Goldsborough p. 73. Don't recall seeing it on quilts from surrounding counties of Montgomery, Howard, Carroll, or Frederick. Perhaps it did originate there. Good eye.

  2. Here's an applique sampler from Harford County, MD with a similar wreath block: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/539095017869897482/. Pyle is an "old family name" in Harford County.

    Harford County is immediately west of Cecil County, and between Cecil County and Baltimore County & City. All share lots of shoreline with the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and the Old Philadelphia - Baltimore Turnpike, now I-95.

    Kent Count, MD, is adjacent to Cecil County on the south and also has lots of Bay shoreline.

    Cecil County abuts Lancaster and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware, so influence may come from there. Also, the Susquehanna River borders Cecil County, so river traffic from places like Harrisburg, PA to the upper Chesapeake Bay could be an influence.

  3. I've now seen several more of these crowns, several in Baltimore, one in Frederick County. So the pattern apparently was fairly widespread in western Maryland at mid-century.