Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Soldier's Shield: An Unpublished Name

Patty is making this quilt and posted a question at the American
Quilt Study Group members' Facebook group.

"I have never heard of the pattern referred to anything except Dresden Plate and was wondering if any of you have. I volunteer in the gallery of the National Quilt Museum every Friday morning, and this morning I was talking to a guest that told me about his grandmother's quilts. He told me that she made many quilts using the pattern name "Soldiers Shield" which he knew was also known by the name of 'Dresden Plate.' The visitor told me that his mother lived in south-central Kentucky and north-central Tennessee."

It's unusual to hear a vernacular pattern name not in the published literature so Patty's question is worth pursuing. Becky responded with a similar story:

"Two color - one light - one dark - Dresden was a pattern my Grandmother, who would have been a little over a hundred years old this year, referred to as 'Soldiers Shield.' She grew up in Nebraska. Hers like this had a solid center of varying colors. However, she did refer to it as a Dresden Soldier Shield. She did not use this arrangement often."

Light/dark alternating with curved-edge petals
During the thirties & forties this was one of THE
most popular patterns-although scrappy petals were
more common than a controlled color scheme.

 Where to look for more information?

Patty's first stop (Thank you, very much) was my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, where there are many variations on what we'd call a Dresden Plate, but none with the name Soldiers' Shield.

Variations with 12 petals, a good number to fit in a square block.
Digital version of my Encyclopedia where these are published
as Sunflowers. The center design: Dessert Plate from the Kansas City Star...

...which advised "jewel tone prints" in a scrap look with curved-edge petals.

An actual Dresden plate

The next place I looked was Newspapers.com to see if "soldier shield quilt" was ever mentioned in their enormous database. Nothing.
Then the Quilt Index, looking for patterns with the name Shield in them.
Then Google books.

Then I just looked around at online auctions for alternating
dark and light spokes. Here's one with 20. The scrappy look
was far more common. Mostly referred to as Dresden or Dresden plate.

Next step go out and do field work interviewing older quilters (older than I)
and showing them the pattern, asking them what they'd call it.

Not going to happen.
But worth thinking about.

The AQSG Members Facebook group is good for gathering
 expert information. Join AQSG here: https://americanquiltstudygroup.org/

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