A quilt recently up for auction.
With inscribed information on date, maker, place and what is most remarkable: Pattern names.
"The Peony & Lily
L. Maria Dunbar
May 1, 1851"
The inscription seems to be a counted style of embroidery done in Turkey red thread---not a cross stitch. The auction house thought the date might be 1831---but no one was making red and green florals like this in 1831. The date is 1851---when the style was all the rage.
Two block patterns and a floral border with three or four designs.
The main floral with its 3 heart-shapes is an unusual design and I don't believe I've seen it before. We might call it a rose. But she called it a peony.
Which is the Peony and which the Lily?
Look at the leaves.
Maria captured the Paeonia lactiflora leaves accurately.
As I say we might think of these as roses. In my Encyclopedia of Applique you can find dozens and dozens of published patterns for "roses" and about a dozen named "peony."
Encyclopedia of Applique
Is that really a rose Marie Webster? Or is it a Piney?Pronunciation and spelling of the word peony might be one reason we call them roses. We have so few examples of 19th-century quilts with the pattern name inscribed. But Maria Dunbar's makes three peonies.
Shelburne Museum CollectionIn 1847, Parnel R. Grumley Pierce (1820-1898) wrote " The Peony and Prairie Flower No 6 " on the back of her quilt.
See more about Parnel here:
New England Quilt Museum Collection
Note the leaves.
"Peony" from Ruth Finley's 1929 book
We also have published records of peony quilts as fair entries.
Mrs. A.A. Hosmer won a prize in New York in 1846 for
a "quilt (peony figure.)"
A fair in Troy, Kansas in 1872---Mrs Young's Peony losing out
to Mrs. Parker's California Wheel (we could digress into that name but NO!)
So this must be Maria Dunbar's Lily.
Mrs. Waters entered a "Lilly Pattern" in a Pennsylvania fair in 1851
A name that has endured.
One other name in Parnel Grumley's inscription: The Prairie Flower, a name that seems more a metaphor than botanic.