Sunday, January 22, 2017

Princess Feather: Names & Hats

A while ago Jan asked on my Facebook page:
Is it Prince's Feather or Princess Feather?

Quilt pattern names can never really be called correct. They change over time. Generations forget them. Writers make them up. Here are some names from my Encyclopedia of Applique:
Several "Princess Feathers" with the earliest perhaps the Ladies Art Company or Marie         Webster in the early 20th century.
Nancy Cabot in the 1930s called it "Washington Feather"
Carrie Hall called it "Feather Rose" and "California Plume" in 1935.

In 1888 Mrs E.A. Hill of Comanche, California, entered a
notable "Washington plume quilt" in a fair.

Did Washington wear a feather?

Portrait of Washington as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia
about the time of the Revolutionary War.

I guess that's a feather in his tri-cornered hat.
You know: "Stick a feather in his hat and call it macaroni" from the song Yankee Doodle.

In 1872 Mrs M Meyers won acclaim at the local fair for
her "feather quilt," which may have been similar to what we'd call a Princess Feather.

From Julie Silber's inventory, mid 19th century.

But there are other names too.
The quilt above came with a note

"Huldah's Spread
Strawberry & Fern 
made by Grandma Stone
about 1860"

A few other quilts have notes or inscriptions about the name.
Below one from the book Arkansas Made.

Modesh Feathered Star"
Modish---as in fashionable?

Here's one I saw years ago, a badly burned quilt dated Sept 1859 in the center.

Above the date it says

Revolutionary Lajos Kossuth with his trademark feathered hat.

See Karen's thoughts on the pattern name here:

Prince of Wales about 1860
(Talk about macaroni---which was slang for all that stuff on his coat)

It would seem that the name has been associated with feathers and some fashionable man from Washington to Kossuth to the Prince of Wales (Victoria's son Bertie who visited the U.S. in the 1860s.)
Heraldry for the Prince of Wales.
Ich Dien = I Serve


  1. Although it creates confusion, I remain fascinated about the way quilt names change.
    Around the time you and I began quilting, an elderly lady did refer to one of these quilts (violet applique on a buttery yellow background) as a Prince's Feather in honor of the Prince of Wales and said she thought people misheard that as Princess Feather. Oral tradition does result in a lot of variation that leads to some interesting interpretations.

  2. It's definitely Princess Feather in our oral tradition. Easier to say and to spell than Prince's Feather. Hate to have to use that apostrophe

  3. Very interesting, and heartbreaking damage to that quilt! Thanks for the beautiful examples and explanations.

  4. The slang for braid on a military jacket n the U.K. Is 'scrambled egg' I think! I love to see the old quilts on your blog even with all the damage.

  5. Hi, My Name is Cheryl Hartzog , I was looking at all the old quilts one day and I was Amazed to see one about Lojas Kossuth and his feathered hat! See I live in Kossuthville,Florida , I am Historian for our small community. I collect any and all History about Kossuth and our community when it was named Kossuthville after Lojas Kossuth when a group of Hungarians came to Florida in 1925.
    I hope it was ok to print a copy of your story ,now I am asking for permission to post it on my web page for others to read. I no longer have wmconnect so you may reply to Cheriart15@yahoo.com
    Thank you so much,It would be appreciated !

  6. Sure Cheryl. I didn't know a thing about Kossuth till I saw that quilt. He was certainly influential.

  7. At the very time the cultural acceptance of a "Prince's" anything was becoming despised, Washington was rising in ranks, becoming a lasting symbol of original American values at the start of American culture. Had the name started as Prince's Feathers, a reworking into Washington's Feathers during that time frame makes perfect sense. "Princess" Feathers is innocuous inherently.

    Sue Kaufman