Tuesday, December 10, 2019

DAR Seminar Papers 3: Facts

From the Nadal Baltimore album
NMAH, Smithsonian Collection

The symposium topic at the DAR Museum in November was Culture & Technology in American Quilts so Lynne Z. Bassett also talked about technology, in particular inking on album quilts.

1847 from Cindy's Antique Quilts

These papers are not published but Lynne has written on the topic in the Massachusetts project book
Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth.

"The argument has been made and frequently repeated that signed friendship quilts became possible...because of improvements in commercially available ink and the invention of the steel nib pen...." 
That argument is not supported by facts. If you go to her footnote...
"the best ink...was India ink, imported from China, which had been known...for centuries already. Even so, many women continued to make their own ink at home...."

From a quilt dated 1852
India ink did not deteriorate the fabric like this

"Inking designs on cotton cloth was not new [in the 1840s]; inkwork was a fancywork technique practiced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."
Lynne mentioned reticules, bags with inking like this English item dated 1810.

Album quilters combined an older fancywork with patchwork
in their new-style quilts of the 1840s. There is no cause and
effect between ink technological changes and album quilts

Augusta Auctions

Well, who has been spreading this misinformation about manufactured ink being
the genesis of the album quilt fashion?

Signature on a moth's wings

Possibly MOI.

Get out your copy of Clues in the Calico,
my 1989 book, and cross out as shown on page 118.

Forget that first paragraph. The rest about inking still holds up.

Collection of the American Museum in Bath, England

Tomorrow: My Paper


  1. And, this is why we do seminars. Learning something new about something old! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Barbara, for the update to my go-to quilt dating Bible!!

  3. Charlene Bongiorno StephensDecember 12, 2019 at 8:30 AM

    Thanks Barbara...this was timely. I am finishing up some research and had quoted your book, but I will amend it now! As ever, your desire to search out the facts is much appreciated.

  4. Thank you, always love learning something new!