Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stars without a Center or a Name

Here's a pattern without a name or a number.  I hadn't seen it published
when I wrote my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns years ago.
And I probably didn't even notice it.... 

Classifying it with regular old Star of Bethlehem quilts.
Here's a 1993 ad for a spectacular version.
UPDATE: This quilt is in the collection of the International Quilt
Study Center & Museum.
Better picture.

The center is negative space...

A place to put another design.
In case one thought there wasn't enough pattern.

Online auction, now in Arlene Arnold's collection.

Those that I am showing look to be middle of the 19th century.
And those I have on file all have appliqued centers.
I suppose you could put a different pieced design in there too.

Here's one of the great examples attributed to Pearl Pryor Millsap in 1932 by her family when interviewed by the California project. See it in their book Ho! For California. But the more I look at this one the more I think it was made before Pearl was born in 1883. The fabrics, style, border and quilting all say 1840-1870
UPDATE: Looking at the California quilt even closer makes me wonder how somebody
would have obtained solid pastel purple fabric in the 19th century. I take it all back.
Pearl probably did make that in 1932.

I'm calling the hollow star unnamed and giving it a BlockBase number 4005.9

UPDATE: Debby Cooney comments:

"Guessing [the America Hurrah example] is a Montgomery County, Md. Mathematical Star. The applique, esp. the Morning Glories, are almost identical to those in two Mont. Co. quilts at the Balto. Museum of Art, another quilt in a Md. private collection, and blocks in Polly Mello's collection." 

I'll see if I can find pictures to add.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

1821: An Outlier

Quilt signed Mary Ann Manwaring,
Dated  "1821,20-Oct"
in the quilting. Perhaps made in Indiana.

I had this in my picture files of dated quilts.

The star quilt is in the collection of the International
Quilt Study Center & Museum #1997.007.0935.
 It's also corded and stuffed.
The fabric, which looks to be all the same, is an
 indigo-ground dot with a plain white cotton.

The pattern is probably constructed with the white squares,
each as one large square rather than as a block.

So the stars are in the sashing rather than the block,
a common construction at the time. 

But what was the time? I just do not feel that early date of 1821,
which was mentioned somewhere in the cataloging information,
is compatible with the style.

So I haven't added it to my Pinterest page of quilts date inscribed

Mary Ann chose a popular 19th century pattern,
one you might see in 1820

The Delaware Historical Society owns a
star quilt with the points pieced of diamonds that is date 1806,
the earliest I've seen.
My concern is more with the two-color palette and the
way the design units repeat rather than the pattern itself.

It looks like a post-1840 quilt, much like this one dated 1845.

Detail of the 1845 quilt showing an indigo-ground dot

Blue and white diamond star quilts were a distinct style,
but not in the 1820s. Most quilt daters would estimate a date of 1840s and later.

Many survive, like this one from perhaps 1840-1870 in the collection
of the Arizona Historical Society. The photo's
from the Arizona Project & the Quilt Index.

And this one from online dealer Vintage Blessings.
Date hard to tell from photo.

I am guessing that the quilted date on Mary Ann Manwaring's star
is actually 1841.

And here's a digression.
Look how clever the border is on this
star from the Arizona Historical Society.
The outer points of the star are part of the vine.

See Mary Ann Manwaring's quilt here:

I see in the Quilt Index file there is no mention of that 1841 date, but an estimate of 1850-1875. I wonder where I saw that.  I see I have got myself all exercised over nothing. Well, the quilts are fun to look at. So I thought I'd leave the post up anyway. 

As Emily Litella used to say "Never Mind."

See the Arizona Historical Society's quilt here:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stories in the Stitches: East Tennessee Historical Society Quilts

Detail of a quilt by Iora Almina Philo Pool (1855-1903), Rugby, Tennessee.
East Tennessee Historical Society 

Now that the heavenly bodies are back where they should be it's time to get back to antique quilts.
Above a detail from one of the great late-19th-century creations.

This quilt was recorded in the Quilts of Tennessee project and appeared in their book where Bets Ramsey wrote that Pool's blocks,
"Having no regular set...flow into each other in happy medley."

This quilt and others from the East Tennessee Historical Society's collection are now on display in Knoxville's East Tennessee History Center. Stories in Stitches: Quilts from the ETHS Collection will be up until January 2, 2018.
"East Tennessee families treasure quilts made by their ancestors. Besides warming and decorating the bed, quilts also serve as reminders of important events—births, weddings, service to our country, the death of loved ones. Often, these memories are preserved in notes attached to the quilts or through stories handed down to younger generations. Sometimes notes are lost and memories fade, leaving families with a 'mystery quilt.'
 Did Grandma Jones or Granny Smith make this quilt? Or, was it Aunt Jane? When did she make it? Why did she choose this pattern? What caused this stain or that tear? These are some of the mysteries that quilt historians try to address through genealogical research and technical analysis.
From histories handed down to mysteries that remain, this exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to learn the 'stories in stitches' from the quilts that have been trusted to the East Tennessee Historical Society since 1992."
Curators Jan Wass and Merikay Waldvogel have been studying some of these quilts for several years. Another exceptional quilt on display is the Knoxville Crazy Quilt made between 1898 and 1918.

"I think the Knoxville Sentinel is the cheapest & best paper to take."
Details from a crazy quilt by Lillie Harvey (1859-1934)

Lillie Harvey seems to have made a Knoxville advertising quilt, including dressed pictures---
paper figures clothed in fabric and attached with embroidery---of local businesses with what looks like advertising copy.

"I wish Mama would buy bread and cake from Kerns"

"Pure Sweet Milk. No water in it."

The show includes sources for some of Lillie's imagery.

"Wait for Me"

Merikay will give you your own private 25-minute lecture on
the Harvey crazy quilt in a You-Tube video at this page:

And see more about Iora Pool's medley of patterns quilt here at the Quilt Index:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Path of Totality

Today's the big day under the Path of Totality.

We are miles southwest of the path 
but looking forward to some strange eclipsean things around here about 1:00 today.

Inspired by this circa 1900 quilt from Julie Silber's inventory I thought about
doing a brickwork quilt to recall the event.
I love those diagonal brick strips.

There aren't very many quilts of brickwork aslant.
It's probably the general bias against diagonal grain.

Holmes County Amish

You don't need a pattern. Cut rectangles twice as long as they
are tall, say 3" x 6" (2-1/2" x 5" for precut strips) 
Make strips; connect them in half drop repeat,
like laying bricks.
Set them on the diagonal and trim into a rectangle.

From about 1910.
Digitally manipulated

Small quilt; From about 1945

Or just use shaded strips.

Digitally manipulated strip quilt.
You could have this top done by the
cocktail hour today.

It's sort of like a Jelly Roll Race quilt
except diagonal.

Look at this tutorial for diagonal Jelly Roll strips from Becky Kercado :

More about brick quilts at this post:

Don't forget to include the date:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More Thoughts on the Tree of Liberty Block

A couple of months ago I did a post on the 1859 Tree of Liberty quilt block from Esther Blair Matthews's "Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album Quilt" in the collection of the Virginia Quilt Museum.

Esther, born the year of American Independence 1776, has left us a confusing inscription:
"Tree of Liberty & United States." 

Her tree has 35 circles, thought maybe to represent the 33 states in the Union in 1859. Esther lived till 1866 so she saw the admission of the 35th state when Union West Virginia seceded from Confederate Virginia in 1863. But that was nothing for Esther to celebrate. Her family were Virginia Confederates from Rockingham County, near Harrisonburg.

Quilters are currently interpreting the quilt
Here's Doreen Johnson's Tree of Liberty.

The quilt is said to have made for her grandson, Addison Blair Martz who enlisted in the Confederate Virginia Infantry a few days after the first shots at Fort Sumter in April, 1861. According to a family bible:
"Addison B. Martz son of Hiram & Hannah Martz died May the 5th 1863 from the effect of a wound received in the Battle of Chancellorsville May the 3rd 1863."

The first Liberty Tree

The major problem in interpreting Esther's symbolism is the loss of cultural references over the generations. Were we examining the quilt in 1860 we might guess she was referring to the Liberty Tree of 1765 when Britain's Stamp Act enraged Boston's colonists who decorated an old elm tree on with lanterns, posters and effigies of the tax collectors.

Dawn at Collector with a Needle
found a print for each of Esther's circles.

Forty-five lanterns held political symbolism, linking the young rebellion with John Wilkes whose periodical The North Briton had incurred the wrath of the government for criticizing the King in the 45th issue.

No. 45 became a slogan of protest in England and in Boston.

Cream pot with a radical slogan from the
collection of Colonial Williamsburg

Teapot with portrait of John Wilkes.
He was such an icon of liberty that
Americans named their children for him:
John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's murderer was one.

Whether or not the first Liberty Tree actually had 45 lanterns we will never know, but the idea of a Liberty Tree was copied as an image of rebellion. John Adams noted in his diary in May, 1766:
"Saw for the first time a likely young button-wood tree, lately planted on a triangle made by three roads. The tree is well set, well guarded, and has on it an inscription, ‘The Tree of Liberty, and cursed is he who cuts this tree.' "
The slogan "45" was understood by all as a symbol the government should be more responsive to the citizens.

 Silversmith Paul Revere's No. 45 Punch Bowl.
45 toast were often offered.

In 1768 in Norwich, Connecticut, according to a local 19th-century history:
"An entertainment was given at Peck's tavern, adjoining Liberty Tree, to celebrate the election of Wilkes to Parliament. The principal citizens, both of town and landing, assembled on this festive occasion. All the furniture of the table, such as plates, bowls, tureens, tumblers and napkins, were marked 'No. 45.' ... The Tree of Liberty was decked with new emblems, among which, and conspicuously surmounting the whole, was a flag emblazoned with 'No. 45, Wilkes & Liberty.' "

Disneyworld has a Liberty Tree with lanterns.

If we were more familiar with the 18th-century concept of a Liberty Tree we might see related meaning in Esther Matthews's quilt, but then again 35 circles are not 45 lanterns. The idea of an elm tree with lights does give us a little insight into her meaning. We can wish she'd left an explanation of her symbolism, but I bet she thought she had.

Neva Hart has done much biographical research on Esther (whose birth name was Easter).
Read more here:

Tree of Liberty by Pamela Eubanks Winfield

And see what the stitchers who are making blocks from Esther's quilts are up to here:

Kay Butler's version of the latest block the Rainbow.

Post Script: One reason the number 45 lost its meaning is that other numbers associated with the Revolution like 13 and 76 replaced it in our iconography.