Tuesday, January 31, 2017

NY Signature Style: Dated Examples

I've been saving photos of quilts with dates on them for years and have been entertaining myself recently by organizing the pictures by date and style. I hope to see patterns of time and place as well as quilt patterns.

1807, Harriet DuBois, New Paltz, New York
Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

One quilt style is the pieced/cross-stitch signature.

Harriet DuBois's is the earliest found.

Every time I look at Harriet's quilt I think that cannot be as old as 1807, but there is nothing to refute that date. All the fabrics I can make out in the photos (indigos and madders) would have been available in 1807. Harriet herself, born in 1794, was old enough to make such a quilt in 1807.

Collection NY

The same with Deborah Wildman's 1833 quilt. It was pictured in Orlofsky's book Quilts in America. It seems early for a blue and white quilt with a flying geese border but the indigo blues are
consistent with the date.

1833 Deborah Wildman, Castile New York, 
Fenimore Art Museum

Deborah Killey Wildman was born about 1797 and died in 1859. She'd have been 36 while working on this quilt.

Years ago Win Reddall called our attention to this style of quilt in a short paper for the American Quilt Study Group, published in Uncoverings.

She noted that the letters were based on the common cross-stitch alphabet,
the marking stitch that girls learned at an early age.

See: Winifred Reddall. “Pieced Lettering on Seven Quilts Dating from 1833 to 1891" in Uncoverings 1980.

One can easily imagine adapting the geometric x-stitches to square patchwork pieces.

1841 embroidered sampler sold at Bonhams. English????

1848, Jane D. Waldron
Pictured in Safford & Bishop, also from Castile, New York

Win mentioned another New York quilt from Canandaigua signed Covel,
pictured in the magazine Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts #17
1980, page 22. But I don't have a copy.
Sally Covel: No date?

UPDATE: Delynne had a copy and scanned the page. Thanks!

1848, Maria Cadman Hubbard, Either Austerlitz or Troy, New York.
American Folk Art Museum. At one point Maria was thought
to be from New England.

Maria was born about 1769

1849 Mary E. Mills from an on line auction

Mary appliqued her letters.

1851, Susan Reed, Forestburgh, New York.
 Metropolitan Museum of Art

1851- saw it in an online auction I guess. That's all I know.
Bet it's from New York.

1853, Eliza S. Finch, New York. New England Quilt Museum

1854, Clarissa Strong, 
"The Indiania (sic) Fancy Quilt." Indiana State Museum
[There are a lot of Clarissa Strongs out there in genealogy land.
One born in 1824 lived in Rochester, New York.]

1857 Fourteenth Ward Album Utah
Only two words in this quilt attributed to Salt Lake City.

1858 Who is E.F.W.? I bet she was from New York.
That applique pattern too.

1868, J.S. Shelburne Museum.
The accession information says this was made in Connecticut, on
what authority is not clear.

1874 by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh Red Hook, New York.
Pictured in Reddall's article.
Win noticed that the inscription contains every letter in the alphabet,
one reason for words like exalted and zeal.

Here's one from the Quilt Engagement Calendar in 1989.

Made in 1882 by Hannah B Jolley Wheeler, wrote dealers Woodard & Greenstein,. I've seen enough of the style now to know that Wheeler was probably where Hannah Jolley lived. There is a Wheeler, New York in Stueben County where Hannah Baker Jolley would have been 53 in 1882.

She's buried in Steuben County
according to Find-a-Grave

Addie Fish Newhouse's quilt for Eulalie E. Woodhouse
was in a McCall's magazine in the 1980s.
It's dated 1891-1928.

I was inspired to make a lettered border by this magazine article, undaunted by the fact that it took Addie 37 years, Mine still isn't finished. I will soon beat Addie for record time.

And lest you think the Woodhouse quilt was made in New Jersey, I will remind you that there is a Newark, New York. A Eulalie Woodhouse is listed in the 1900 census in  Newark, Wayne County, New York.
This New York quilt is now in the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

My conclusions today aren't much different from those I made in 1989 when I wrote Clues in the Calico.
Here's what I said then, mainly summarizing Win Reddall's research.

Reddall's examples came from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Since then five more dated examples...have been found...four from New York and one from Connecticut. ...It seems that the....pieced letter inscription is a better indicator of place (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut)...than of date.

The quilts range over a century so are no clue to date, but as far as regionalism: Now I am not so sure about New Jersey and Connecticut. The New Jersey example is from Newark, New York, and the Shelburne's Connecticut quilt????

However, just to confound my regional assumption:

No date, Electa Field, Conway, Massachusetts
from the Potumtuck Valley Museum


  1. Great article, so very interesting! Makes me want to know these ladies all the more!

  2. Oh, maybe this technique for "LIBERTY"? Or if that would be too small to piece, maybe actually cross-stitch the word? Hmmm, something to simmer on today ...

  3. Denniele did some cross-stitching in her Liberty embroidery.

  4. Thank you for sharing your findings. There is definitely a crossover from quilting to cross stitch and then cross stitch designs of quilts. I recently have been fascinated with Quaker designs in cross stitch which remind me of quilting blocks. You have inspired me to maybe put some letters into a special wedding quilt in process now.