Monday, August 26, 2019

Presidents' Toile: Two Editions

You'd know this guy anywhere....

George Washington, First President of the United States

And this man with a curl on his forehead.

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President

The man with the curly wig

John Adams, President Number 2

Carol's hexagon quilt has been cut from a textile of the 1820s....

A French toile printed in 1827 with the six American presidents to that date: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams.

The inscription: Les Presidents Des Etats-Unis (The Presidents of the United States)

Hexagons cut from the eagle and the letters ETA from the word ETATS.

The Shelburne Museum has a wholecloth quilt
made from the toile, which is roller-printed to look
like copperplate style. The bright blue dye is probably Prussian blue.

The repeat here shows the eagle surrounded by the politicians
among the clouds.

We assume the printer was French. Certainly Americans did not have the technology or skill to print such a piece domestically in 1827. 

Collins showed this one with a portrait of the 
seventh president and dated it to 1829.

Herbert Ridgway Collins pictured another  piece from the Cornell University Archives in his 1979 catalog of political textiles Threads of History  and tells us there was an earlier French version but doesn't show it...one reason I did a digital search to try to figure out which Carol's was cut from.

1827 was a Presidential election year with a rematch between President John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson whom Adams had beaten in 1823. Jackson was the winner of the second round and at some point the toile's design was reworked for the second version. 

From Jeff Bridgman's inventory.
It measures 25 inches across

The six presidential portraits remained but prominent among them was
an oval featuring Jackson.

The words in English:

"Andrew Jackson/ Magnanimous in Peace/ Victorious in War/ 
President of the United States from March 4th 1829 To //
Supreme Commander of the Army & Navy."

Jackson was promoted as a hero of the War of 1812.

During one of the Adams-Jackson campaigns these pasteboard
boxes were sold.

The eagle was re-used but the French words were eliminated and the bird is off to the side of Jackson. For balance a ship (Collins called it a frigate) has been added.

Perhaps the U.S.S. Constitution, another hero of the War of 1812.

An 1803 print on paper
Frigates were built for speed and sailing ease 

The Jackson print was offered in at least four colorways.
The Winterthur Museum has this piece in a dark red, a window drape stitched 
in the mid-20th-century from antique yardage.

They also have a wholecloth quilt in a plum/purple color. The
fabric must have been abundant in the early 20th century when
DuPont was collecting for his period rooms.

Their catalog notes on one pieces:
"This fabric was printed in Alsace, France c. 1829."

A strip quilt alternating the blue with either a faded red or a pink colorway.

Sold at auction

The Brooklyn Museum's quilt in a brown colorway

The date on the second piece is assumed to be 1828 or 1829; perhaps it was printed to be sold for Jackson's 1829 inauguration but Jackson served two terms, replaced in 1837 by Martin Van Buren.
In theory the print may date sometime between his 1828 campaign and the date when he was no longer President.

Above Quincy Adams, Washington, Monroe and Adams

The New Jersey project recorded a quilt inherited by a collector.

Medallion with presidential portraits in the center

All of the first six are in the meallion. Perhaps the maker was Anti-Jackson but it may be that she cut those portraits from the first edition of the presidential toile. It looks like they are trimmed closely and then appliqued to white. No clouds.

Back to Carols's hexagon. Here's Madison. 

The French words indicate hers is cut from the first printing (sans Jackson). The pieces found
online are all blue but hers is evidence that  Les Presidents Des Etats-Unis was also printed in a brown colorway.

See a long ago post on the Adams-Jackson campaign boxes:


  1. WOW! Those president fabrics are outstanding!!

  2. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful presidential fabrics. It was fun to see how they were used in EPP