Monday, March 30, 2020

Washington Prints

Green calicoes are hard to date but here's a classic star to help us out. It's signed "Clara 1906," maybe a little later than I'd have guessed although one observation is, "The pinker the quilt the closer to 1900 it is."

Sorting through my pictures of dated quilts from about that time
I find many with these green calico florals including two Double Irish Chains
dated 1893.

"J.D.M. Louwers 1894"

Another star. It would seem these old-fashioned quilts in old-fashioned red and green
come from quilters in southeastern Pennsylvania's German Anabaptist sects.

"1906 Shirk"
Fabric vendors must have catered to their tastes and perhaps the mills did too.

Collection of Michigan State University

One mill that marketed a line of traditional calicoes was the S.H. Greene Company
of Riverpoint, Rhode Island in the area of Warwick.

Bolt Label from the Library Company of Philadelphia

S.H. Greene & Sons was founded in 1865 by a family who'd been in the fabric business in Rhode Island since the 18th century. Simon H. Greene founded the Clyde Bleachery & Print Works in 1828. At first they focused on indigo prints but as the century wore on expanded to a variety of specialties, including Turkey reds, kerchiefs and bandanas and these small-scale florals, which they marketed as Washington Prints.
One of their plain bleached cottons, the lining to Emily
Hollingsworth's 1835 silk dress.

A 1908 statistic: They continued to bleach cotton, producing one and a half million yards a week and printing one and a quarter million yards of that.

Turkey red bandanas at the end of the century, also branded
as Martha Washington

Bolt Label from the Library Company of Philadelphia

They printed many traditional cotton calicoes around the same time, the kinds of prints advertised in the 1898 Montgomery Ward's catalog as "Oil prints, green ground, yellow and black small figures; canary with red and black small figure; red ground with yellow and black figure."

And Turkey red robe prints, for comforters

1888 ad in the Omaha Bee
"oil-boiled" refers to the old Turkey red process.

From Cindy Rennel's inventory

They undoubtedly had much competition for these old-fashioned prints
but S.H. Greene certainly supplied the fabric for thousands of quilters at the time.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Leila Utter's Dressed Pictures

Dressed pictures: free-standing paper dolls attached to a crazy quilt...

attributed to Leila (or Lelia) O. Johnson Utter (1853-1931)

Dated 1898 in the lower right corner

The early name for these raised figures in stumpwork.

The figures are often paper, "clothed" in actual fabric and trim.

Leila's quilt has survived well as the doll bodies are a stiff fabric. Figures dressed over paper often
See a post about a dressed picture quilt about a hundred years older than Leila's here:

The Brooklyn Museum also has a British quilt with dressed pictures
from about 1790.

George Wickham and Lizzie Bennett from Pride & Prejudice?

Leila Utter lived in in the vicinity of Oneonta, New York. The censuses find her and her husband in both Otsego and Delaware counties. The 1870 census lists her as living with James Utter, 23-year-old shingle maker. She is 17; they were probably married November 16, 1869. James later became a farmer and Leila remained a housekeeper.

Sandi Fox researched Leila Utter's life for her book Wrapped in Glory: Figurative Qults & Bedcovers 1700-1900.

Sandi found Leila was adopted. Her parents are listed in an obituary source as Henry Johnson and Mary Ann Raymond but whether these are her birth parents is unknown. She is also listed as Leila Butts Utter. Leila and James apparently had no children but Sandi found she informally adopted a daughter Elizabeth who married Harlow Munson when she grew up. Today's genealogy records give us no further information. Between the adoptions and the lack of descendants to keep track of her she is rather elusive. All we really know about her is in the quilt attributed to her.

The 1910 census taken about 12 years after she finished her quilt shows James and Leila D. Utter living with S. Anna Stuart, a schoolteacher about 12 years younger than Leila. Anna is listed as a boarder.

Elizabeth Utter Munson and her children visit
Leila and James in Davenport Center, 1922.

James died in 1929, Leila on October 22, 1931. She and James are buried in the Davenport Cemetery Davenport Center, New York.

Where is the crazy quilt today? When it was hung at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1990-1991 it belonged to Kathy & Fred Epstein who also owned the John L. Sullivan crazy quilt in the same exhibit. The quilt came up for sale in 1993 handled by America Hurrah. The Sullivan quilt and others from the Epsteins' collection went to the Art Institute of Chicago. No clue as to where Leila's quilt is.

The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian
owns a Kentucky fan quilt with dressed pictures dated 1893. See a post here:

The East Tennessee Historical Society owns one by Lillie Harvey of Knoxville.
In Lillie's the bodies seem to be completely attached
to the background but the clothing and other details are loose.
See a post here:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Ladder Back Chairs

These illustrations from the first half of the 20th century amuse me no end in colonial silliness. We have a woman in old-fashioned dress holding a thoroughly modern version of a crazy quilt.

The whole Colonial Revival movement was about establishing an "authentic" American sentiment,
but messages were mixed----old fashioned or modern? You could have it both ways.

Especially if you were illustrating quilt pattern publications.

Edith Crumb feature in the Detroit News.
I don't see a signature on the drawing. Edith Crumb used a couple of
ladder back chair illustrations to illustrate articles for her 
Quilt Club Corner Column

A silhouette 

Ruby McKim illustration

Who originated the fashion for colonial quiltmakers
in ladder back chairs?

Woman's World magazine used this quilt with an odd chair
for its quilt features.
UPDATE: Our New England expert Pam Weeks tells me it's a comb-back Windsor chair.

Another variation for the cover of a Woman's World pattern catalog in 1930.

Mary Sherwood Wright Jones for
Needlecraft September, 1928
Note the braided rag rug under her colonial feet.

From Grandmother Clark

Here's the weirdest combination of colonial and modern.
The crazy quilter looks to be living in a cell but it's just a
Bauhaus modern concrete bedroom with steel casement windows.
Maybe she's hemming drapes.

So who originated the cliche?

Got to be Wallace Nutting who did staged photos
of colonial interiors: Braided rug and wooden chairs a
standard prop in these framed photos extremely popular in the teens and 1920s.

See a post at my Woman's Work blog on Nutting and his wife Mariet
who was the art director on these influential glimpses of our "authentic" history.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Margaret Hauser Marion's Quilt

Unknown pattern, quilt by Margaret Elizabeth Hauser Marion (1827-1914)
Shoals, Surry County, North Carolina.

When Margaret Marion's granddaughter brought this quilt for the North Carolina project to record
in 1985 she had no name for it and neither did the documentors. See a picture in 
their book North Carolina Quilts, page 113.

They thought it might be from the 1850-1875 quarter but now that we have seen many more quilts we'd have to guess that the fabric, solid colors of blue, red, green, brown and chrome orange, are typical of Upland Southern quilts from about 1880-1930.

The extravaganza may have been one of Margaret's later quilts
as she died in 1914

Margaret, called Peggy, lived her life in Shoals township in Surry County,
North Carolina up by the Virginia border. Surry County is in the Piedmont,
the mountainous area that was relatively isolated and home to so many unusual quilts.

Surry County Historical Society

She and husband Richard Elwell Marion (1826-1916) built this house after their marriage about 1845
and raised many children here. One of them enlarged it and modernized it in the early 20th century.

Surry County Historical Society
Family at the Sink home, Surry County. 
The woman may have a quilt in
her lap under the baby. Their house would have looked more like this
when the older Marions lived there.

From the North Carolina Quilts book

Richard and Margaret on the porch in 1912.
She is in her mid 80s, dressed as she might
have been when she was forty.

From their farm you could see Pilot Mountain it is said.

Pilot Mountain is now a state park.
You can undoubtedly see this stone knob from most farms in the area.

Surry County's other claim to fame is that actor Andy Griffith was born in nearby
Mt. Airy, a town on which he based the television series about Mayberry, North Carolina.

Mt. Airy police department in 1950
From the Surry County Historical Society

Peggy Marion was of an earlier generation, perhaps Opie's great-grandmother's acquaintance.
Oh wait, I forgot. Opie is a fictional character.

The Elkin Ladies' Aid Society between 1899-1902
Surry County Historical Society
The women are piecing a top with plaid sashing.

The 1910 census found Peggy and husband living with daughter Mary Alice (1859-1943) whose husband had died the year before and Jane Whitaker, a 68-year old servant. Mary Alice, called Alice, apparently had no children. Peggy's descendant who owned the quilt believed it to have been made for Alice and that Peggy Marion made a special quilt for each child.

That would be many quilts as Peggy's Find-A-Grave site lists 11 long-lived children, born between 1846 and 1872: 7 girls and 4 boys.

Like many of her neighbors Peggy seems to have been
fond of spiky triangles.

It would indeed be wonderful to see quilts made for Alice's siblings as hers is so extraordinary.

First there is the block...
A circles of spiky diamonds with what looks to be iris flowers in the corners.
In the center what may be a bird---some blocks have an eye.

Or is it a thistle?
And a few dots to fill up space.

The nine blocks are sashed with triple strips pieced of spiky triangles.
Color varies in the photos but I imagine the triangles are brownish
as the documenters noted a brown fabric that seems to have faded from red.

Or maybe it was always oxblood brown.

The sashing is very much like sashing you might see in a Rocky Mountain design,
a popular design in the same Appalachian region.

Nancy Brackett Lawson's Rocky Mountain documented by
the Tennessee project

And in the cornerstones between the spiky pieced points
an appliqued rose of the common Whig Rose or Rose of Sharon variety.
The cornerstone blocks are just a little bit smaller than the wheel blocks,
definitely an unusual set.

Bill Volckening bought this quilt from Mark French who had little information about it. See Bill's  posts here:

Spiky circles in spiky sashing

I'd guess it was from somewhere in the North Carolina Piedmont

Where some pretty amazing things went on.

See the Marion quilt here: