Saturday, February 19, 2022

Feathered Star Dated 1838


I've had this quilt for years. Part of my sub collection: 
"Quilts Before 1840 not in very good shape."

The extraordinary thing about this one is the quilted date
inside the red threads here.
I printed this photo out and traced around the letters. Maybe:

"J A

I first saw this quilt 35 years ago in the Kansas Quilt Project. Pat brought it in to be documented and we oohed-and-aahed as it was one of the oldest quilts we saw. She had outlined the date in red thread.

Unfortunately she knew nothing about it or how it had come to Kansas.

When I wrote Clues in the Calico I borrowed it and published a detail shot. When she decided to downsize she gave it to me and I was thrilled to have it. It's the earliest feathered star I've seen (and as it was quilted in 1838 it may have been pieced earlier.)

It's hanging in the dark part of the living room right now, a good
winter display.

The indigo blue print with a white dot has held up really well, as those prints often do, but I think everything else has faded including the pinks. The brighter pinks might have been redder at one time. You can barely see them but there are pale pink zig zag strips in a border on the left here.

Did it once look more like this with less contrast between reds and blues ?
Darkening the photo still does not explain the lack of symmetry in the stars.

Although fading is the cause of the difference in the top center star.
There were once triangular feathers marching along the edge here
but they are nearly completely gone. Enthusiastic bleaching?

The star in the right has similar print feathers, a brown (once more colorful) print?

Small pieces of something like this that
might have been purple or another fugitive color?

Wondering if maybe the red faded to blue or vice-versa,
 I asked dye expert Jim Liles to look at it years ago and he said, "No way." 
Reds and blues do not fade to each other.

Here are a few other pieces in my 
"Quilts Before 1840 not in very good shape"

Not very good pictures either.

You can see why indigo has such a reputation for colorfastness.

It's a good thing I live in Kansas where these do not show up too often.

1 comment:

  1. Barbara: I always read your posts, usually because they containm new (to me) information.
    Thank you fror being precise.