Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oh! To Be in Cairo in 1880

Detail of a quilt that political textile collector
Julie Powell donated to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Oh to be in Cairo. 
Cairo, Illinois that is...
(Pronounced Karo)

When Stuart's Dry Goods had the following for sale:
  • Robe Prints
  • Patchwork Prints
  • Comfort Prints
  • Handkerchief  Prints
  • Hancock & English Prints
  • Garfield & Arthur Prints

Garfield & Arthur print for the 1880 Presidential Election

James A. Garfield was President for about 200 days in
1881 until he was assassinated.
The above top with cut-out chintz detailing is a mourning quilt.

The Hancock and English prints are not what I first thought---prints from England. Winfield Scott Hancock and running mate William H. English had their own campaign textiles too.
Hancock and English bunting
[Not Turkey red]

We can't call Republican Garfield the lucky winner in this contest. But he is the winner in number of campaign fabrics and quilts.

The Garfield quilt in the Museum of Fine Arts.
Two stars picture Garfield; two Arthur

As far as the rest of the inventory at Stuart's: 

You often see robe prints (think lap robe prints)
as whole cloth, tied bedcovers or on the back of patchwork.

Robe Prints and Comfort Prints were probably quite similar. We might call them chintz-scale prints. They might have also called them cretonne. I'd guess that a robe print might be slightly better quality than a comfort print.

Handkerchief prints may have been bandanas.

Bandana or handkerchief for Garfield/Arthur supporters.

Bandana or handkerchief for Hancock/English supporters.

In the outside border of each is a caption in white.

The Garfield banner says Cochrane's Turkey Red.

Cairo is at one of the most important river junctions in the U.S.
where the Mississippi meets the Ohio....
Important when rivers were our highways.
Bad news in a flood year.


  1. Love the colors in that top scrappy star! Very nice quilt, and the first time I've seen an oval center in an 8 point start -- in this case it worked very well.

  2. Ahhh. . . . the greatest President that never was. I enjoyed your post today.