Sunday, February 23, 2020

Newspaper Friendship Quilt Exchanges

Mrs. Clara Stewart, San Francisco, 1925

A valuable set of blocks recently sold in an online auction.
How valuable is a set of badly embroidered friendship blocks?

Mrs. Florence Weber, Kansas City MISSOURI, 1925
The pattern is a variation of BlockBase #1803, Greek Cross,
also Sister's Choice

I didn't check what they sold for but I was impressed to see them.
Not only are they valuable for being dated 1924 & 1925, showing
us what was fashionable in the middle twenties:  Solids.

Blues, and a few light prints

Mrs. Ellis Wainwright, Richmond, Mo, 1925

Each block is signed, some are dated and some have the maker's home town.

Ida Stern, Richmond, MO 1924
Amelia Wardle, Universal, Ind., 1925

The blocks were found in a Missouri antique shop and I'd guess the original block collector lived in Richmond, MO. But how did she know people as far afield as Indiana and California? Perhaps they subscribed to the same periodical?

Needlework or Exchange columns in a city and farm newspapers published requests for quilt square exchanges. Readers might choose a pattern and ask "Sisters" to trade blocks with them making a "State Quilt" or a "Globe" quilt collected from penpals reading the Boston Globe.

The Globe in 1902 was in the midst of a quilt craze for Globe squares, according to Vinette:
 "If I get one more afternoon at Globe squares I shall be able to pay my debts in the 'square' line."

Blocks dated 1915 from various illegible places 

National magazines like Hearth & Home published reader requests:
"I am making a friendship quilt and shall be very pleased to receive pieced blocks of calico or gingham, any pattern, 12 x 12 inches..." C. Horsell, Palmyra, Missouri, 1906

Vickery's Fireside Visitor 1900

Gertie Daum of Labette, Kansas also wanted 12" blocks.
Like others she also asked for a piece of fabric with reader's name and state or territory on it.
She may have intended to make the wool squares into a pieced block or a crazy quilt. 

I have been looking for the product of these exchanges for years---blocks or a quilt with place names from a wide geographical area. But they are hard to find. For some reason no one ever inscribed something like "My Hearth & Home quilt traded with sisters for all the States" on their quilt.

L. Webb of Zadock, Arkansas was collecting quilt squares from all the states. Lacking one from California she wrote an open letter to the Placer Herald in Rocklin, California in 1895. She was a bit picky:
"I want a square from every State in the United States for a friendship quilt. The square must be pieced out of silk or velvet...just eleven inches square, with your name and the name of the State worked on each square."

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps we shouldn't be so picky when exchanging blocks. I noticed almost all of those star points in the sale blocks would be cut off when joined together! I wondered who people would take a 2 x 6 inch piece of silk and get all that embroidered information on it, too. Maybe my embroidery isn't as fine as embroidery from 100 years ago! =) Thanks for highlighting these.