Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Clarissa Moore: Where are the Eagles?

Quilt date-inscribed 1837 by Clarissa Moore Holman
Collection of Old Sturbridge Village

See a great photo of it here:

Froncie Quinn has done a pattern for Clarissa's quilt. Here's her description:
"Clarissa's scrap quilt (107" x 105") will inspire you in many ways. It is unusual because of its New England based " T" -shaped construction and enchanting because of the charming stenciled designs sprinkled throughout the quilt. Created when Clarissa was just 17, it is a veritable showcase of the fabrics and motifs of the time period."
The date is stenciled.

Clarissa D Moore was born in Tolland, Connecticut on July 13, 1819. She married John Holman (1819-1896) of Eastford, Connecticut, on October 28, 1847. They had one child.  She lived with Ida and Henry Baker Buell in Eastford in her later years. When their daughter Edith Clarissa was born in 1898 she gave the Buells her star quilt.  Clarissa Holman died on January 16, 1912 and is buried in the North Ashford Cemetery in Windham County.

I thought I recognized the red fabric in Clarissa's alternate blocks and you may too.

Here is a wholecloth quilt in a similar print featuring eagles.

A strip quilt alternating eagle print with a pillar print perhaps.
From the Massachusetts Project & the Quilt Index.

The eagle print was popular enough that several quilts and pieces of the yardage
have survived in a few colorways. Above: a red ground with green and brown figures.
Note the upside down cornucopia and the serpentine stripe of florals between the eagles.

Same print with a chocolate brown ground.
The most noticeable figure is the American eagle in an oval wreath with a pinked edge.

You can't miss the eagle.

Two colors in a nine patch from the Pat L. Nickols
Collection at the Mingei Museum.

The eagles are missing in Clarissa's quilt where there are only pinked edges to be seen.

See the pinked edge in the lower left corner of this photo.

Did she cut out all the eagles?
Did she have leftovers from another project?
Or was her red print an alternate design without the American eagle?

The last answer is probable.  It would make sense that a European mill
might print an eagle for the U.S. market and alter the design for the rest of the world.

Here's another version of the eagle print.

Same eagle but the brown ground print has a different image where the
cornucopia is on the red ground print.

If you look closely at the photos of Clarissa's quilt, however, you see in the block above and to the left of her signature block an oval shape at the top. It's not an eagle's wing. so we have to guess that Clarissa had a different print.

Once you start seeing a print you keep seeing it. Now I notice this strip quilt
in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (#2005.012.0001)
 features a print close to Clarissa's in the chintz strips. No eagle to be seen.

Below another in the IQSC collection:


No eagles. This is probably the same print Clarissa cut up.
Both the eagles and the no-eagles print must have been quite popular.

Has there been a repro print of the eagle chintz?

A black & white shot from the collections of Historic New England.

I think I've solved the puzzle of the missing eagles. Several similar prints. I'll go on to some new obsession.

See the pattern for the star quilt with stencils from Hoopla Patterns:

Update on the Reproduction Prints

Wendy & Cyndi remembered two reproductions:

Nancy Gere did a repro of the eagle print in her Old Glories: 13 Original Colonies.

Moda did one called Georgetown (not by me)

A couple of years ago they saw a show of Rhode Island quilts at the New England Quilt Museum that featured a display of the old fabric and new with a whole cloth quilt and this label.

I found it at Cyndi's Busy Thimble shop blog


  1. I have seen Clarissa's quilt in person and it is a beauty. I agree that her print must have been an alternate print sans eagle. When I first saw it, I did ponder the idea that she cut all of eagles out for another quilt (because I have done it myself), but I do believe that is highly unlikely. Thanks for bringing these treasures to light. I don't recall ever having seen the one in the IQSC collection. Wow!

  2. I have several scraps of chintz that were supposed to have belonged to Florence Peto who indeed did cut the most interesting parts out of them and leave the rest. Fussy cutting.

  3. That's what I call fun detective work! I do wish someone would do a reproduction of the eagle fabric - oh, the quilts we would make! (and the fabric we'd hoard!)

  4. Clarissa's quilt is fabulous! Interesting to read about your research of the print. I'm curious that she had her daughter when she was 79??

  5. Beautiful quilt and interesting post. Love the stenciled designs so I ordered the pattern as the stencils are included and look forward to a new project.

  6. Janet-perhaps a typo. 79. It's a terrifying thought.

  7. Barbara, please create a new line that features that beautiful red eagle print. I want eagles on my quilts but hate handwork and would be much obliged if you would.

  8. In the early 2000's a similar eagle print was produced by Moda, on a white ground, a light tea ground and a darker tea ground. Selvage read only "Georgetown by Moda" with the copyright symbol.

  9. I feel cheated that I didn't get a chance to buy some of this fabric. It's a beauty.

  10. Barbara, There is a photo of both the Eagle print and the alternate print without the eagle on page 339 of Florence Montgomery's book, "Printed Textiles". We have a 4-poster quilt in our museum collection with the eagle-less print on the drops.

    Laura Lane, Collections Manager, New England Quilt Museum