Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Amelia's Aviary 1: Partridge & Palm

Four early 19th-century  quilts are attributed to Amelia Heiskell Lauck, each with cut-out chintz birds. 

Quilt attributed to Amelia Heiskell Lauck (1760-1842) Winchester, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg Collection 2006.609.1

From the catalog:
"The quilt is marked in backstitches with the inscription 'A present by Amelia Lauck to her S.[son] & D.[daughter] Morg. & M. Lauck / made in 62nd year.' The quilt was created as a wedding gift for Amelia’s eighth child, Morgan Adolphus Lauck (1796–1826), and his bride, Ann Maria Ott, who married on May 26, 1824.
Born in Winchester, Virginia in 1760, Amelia Heiskell Lauck lived her entire life there marrying Peter Lauck in 1779. Peter and Amelia had eleven children, six of whom survived into adulthood."

Amelia Lauck from the Corchran Gallery

It is thought that she may have made a quilt for each of those six children. I tend to get distracted by the quilting in her quilts but I decided to look closely at the birds in each quilt.

In this one: a pair of short tailed game birds looking to the right.
I've heard them called grouse and woodcocks. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum
has a piece of game bird yardage with a tea ground cataloged as 
"two partridges under a may tree."

That sounds like a good name for a popular print with many variations.
"Two Partridges Under a May Tree"
A gray partridge

A May tree. We'd call it a flowering hawthorne
but in England it's called a May tree because it
blooms in May.

Here's another Partridge in a May Tree from the Winterthur Museum's collection, a seat cover in blue. This common print does not have the palm tree seen in Amelia's quilt. At first I thought she added a palm tree to the birds but I don't see any seams. 

As far as palm tree and bird prints go....

The very common palm sheltering a pheasant is not what she used.

Amelia's is a rather gawky tree. 
The fronds are growing up in the wrong direction
and the shading is gaudy.

I actually had a small file of gawky palms.

And in it---the chintz Amelia used. Same birds with gawky tree.
That's all I have seen of it.

Leah Minnich used two squares of palm tree and partridge in
the lower corners of her nine-patch strip quilt signed and dated 1837.
There must be more of it around.

The  partridge in a May tree prints tend to be dated 1815 to 1835 by the museums that own pieces, a span typical of these roller printed English chintzes so popular with American quilters.

Winterthur Museum # 1969.1577

New Jersey quilt dated 1843 from the Fish Family in the collection
of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum #2005.053.0003

Green colorway in the border of a New Hampshire quilt
on the cover of this year's AQSG Seminar booklet.

A strip alternating with a pillar print.

More of Amelia's Aviary in later posts.


  1. I get distracted by her quilting too - it's marvellous!

  2. I don't know if May is down to regions, but here I have hawthorns at the bottom of the garden but still refer to the blossoms as may. Prickly blooming things, but pretty. It's no fun cleaning out chickens and getting a prickled bottom when I bend over. Out with the secateurs!

    And speaking of pretty - that quilting does indeed draw your eye away from the printed fabric!