Monday, September 2, 2019

How Old is this Quilt?

Here's everything a quilt historian dreams about. 
An 18th-century quilt on eBay. Cheap.

The Maryland seller--- trying conscientiously, I suppose, to show the worst damage---
used this photo and advertised it as a cutter quilt with a starting bid of about $30. Good for repairs.

How old is this quilt?
Way old.

I didn't win it, which is a good thing as my home for orphan quilts is full up.

It went for a little over $200. I hope that means the buyer will treat it with some respect.
What's it worth? I don't know. As condition is important to value---not as much as one would

The first things that caught my eye:
  • Medallion format
  • White applique on dark
  • Limited palette: brown prints 

Comparative dating means looking at similar pieces. First I looked at quilts with dates inscribed.

M. Campbell, 1795 Smithsonian collection

Floral vase applique
Floral border
Medallion format
Limited palette

Hannah John 1797
Maine project
Floral vase applique
Medallion format
Floral border
Limited palette

Eby, 1803 Maryland project
Floral vase applique
Medallion format
The palette is limited here but not so limited as the all dark brown style.

As you can see not many of these survive. More pictures: undated examples in similar style.

McGrary family, Western Carolina Museum

The DAR Museum photographed this one in a private collection.
Quilt Index files.

Ohio Historical Society

Shelburne collection, pictured in the Orlofsky book Quilts.

We definitely see a style going on here...
Related to other needlework of the era.

MESDA collection
Mary Elizabeth Doswell finished this embroidered piece in Mrs Woodson's
needlework class in 1802.

North Carolina Museum of History collection
Whitework stuffed quilting shown backlit in their current exhibit.

Other style characteristics to note:
White applique on dark 
Vine border growing out of the corner

Attributed to Susan Strong, Smithsonian

It's hard to tell if the applique is reverse applique or laid on top
from the pictures.

How old is the auction quilt? 1790-1810 for a 20 year guess. We can all hope the buyer has no intention of cutting it up for repair work.


  1. Oh it's beautiful! I will hope right along with you that it will be treasured.

  2. When I first saw your post I thought perhaps you knew who did end up with it. Fortunately, I did not see it until the auction was over or I would have made an attempt to bring it home. I would love to see it "up close and personal". Thanks for posting.

  3. Oh how lovely. Only $200 - one can only hope it is cared for.

  4. What wonderful information and beautiful quilts.