Saturday, February 1, 2020

Celebrity Quilts

Signatures of Alexander Humboldt, 
Henry W. Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson
in a silk quilt by Adeline Harris Sears (1839–1931)
Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the height of the album quilt fashion in 1856 the Sacramento Union copied an article about a quilt in progress in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Names inked on the "strips of linen: Henry Clay, Jackson, Daniel Webster...and many other eminent Americans. A gentleman who has seen the quilt declares it a great curiosity."

The first three politicians mentioned in the article were long dead by 1856 so I don't know what to make of this news article but it does describe a subcategory of signature quilt style, the celebrity quilt.
Two impressive surviving examples of celebrity-signed quilts survive. Both are silk and date to about 1860.

Adeline Harris Sear's Tumbling Blocks. 
In the detail above L. Maria Child's 1863 signature is at the lower right.

Read a post about this quilt:

Hexagon Celebrity Quilt by Mary Hughes Lord, Nashville, Tennessee
Smithsonian Institution

Signatures include: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, Winfield Scott, Benjamin Butler, James A. Garfield, and Chester A. Arthur.

An Autograph Quilt 1888
"A Leadville lady is getting up a novelty in the line of an autograph quilt....She has sent a square of cloth to all the American celebrities, with the request that they return the same with their autograph and a sentiment endorsed therein. The result has been flattering...."
Celebrity quilt is not a period name. It's one I made up.

See Mary Stori's celebrities of the quilt world project:


  1. There is a "celebrity" autograph quilt included in "Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth" on pages 281-284. It has autographs of Presidents, First Ladies, Cabinet members, military heroes and literary figures. The quilt date to the 1880's and is privately owned.

  2. Wow awesome quilts-those would be neat to view in person