Friday, March 29, 2024

Centennial Quilt from Vermont


Boy waving a centennial flag
A few years ago the Thomaston Auction house in Thomaston, Maine
sold this pictorial quilt. Although in rough shape it was so unusual the price
was $17,000.

One would guess it's called a Centennial quilt because his flag
 says 1876 but other than that I see nothing Centennial about it. Bridal Quilt
might have been a better name.

The quilt was long owned by a collecting family the Wellses of Vermont
who allowed it to be published in the Magazine Antiques in 
May, 1934 when it was in better shape.

Mrs. Wells may have remembered the Centennial connection.  I did find an 1876 reference to it as a Centennial quilt in the Rutland, Vermont Globe.

September, 1876

The exhibit described was not the giant Philadelphia exhibition but the 6th Annual Otter Creek Valley Fair in East Wallingford, Vermont

Here are the prize winners in their quilt contest. Maybe one of the fancy quilts?
Or maybe it didn't win a prize.

Do note as typical in that Centennial year: charm quilts and log cabin quilts
were popular. And this one is a form of Log Cabin.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Full Blown Tulip


One of my favorite patterns, this one offered a few years ago by
Molly at Fourth Corner Quilts.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
They call it "Full Blown Tulip.

Red and green calico blocks alternate with a chintz
pillar print in a blending of two styles---two ways of looking at fabric.

Same pillar print from Winterthur Museum's collection

Julie Silber's inventory. Chintz and calico?

About 1840 the fashion for large-scale furnishing prints in a busy composition was
replaced by a trend to use smaller scale calico prints. The Full Blown Tulip blocks are
the new idea; the chintz becoming old fashioned. 

Ruth Finley in the 1929 book Old Patchwork Quilts called the design
"Full Blown Tulip" with a photo of a Turkey red, green and chrome orange & yellow quilt:
The height of quilt fashion about 1850.

So how old is this rather complex design?
The earliest examples are variations in a quilt dated 1842 & 1843.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Other date-inscribed examples:

1842-1844 Henry Ford Museum
Philadelphia, Bucks County & Chester County names

They call it a Reel Variation.

American Museum of Folk Art
1842-1843, Sarah Morrell

Lisa Erlandson Collection
1844 Sarah A White
Annapolis, Maryland

Michigan State University Collection
1845 Abraham Messler, Somerville, New Jersey
Messler was a minister in the Reformed Dutch Church.

1845 Album Sampler with Donoho & Young family
names, Maryland Historical Society

The dated examples indicate the design came in with the trend for red & green calicos, 1842-1845, later than I would have guessed.

BlockBase+ patterns numbered 36xx

It's a challenge to piece yet many pattern companies offered variations over the years. Some drafted them better than others. Number 3653 had good proportions and is well drawn but if you will notice neither Finley's photo nor the Ladies Art Company's California Rose tells you how to fit it into a block.

Probably some skillful piecers in the 1840s did not fit it into a square block but pieced it into another odd shape. As my computer program is BLOCKBase we fit it into a block---in a circle, but pieced edges might be better.

About 1950 from my collection

Online Auction

I redrew the BlockBase pattern for a 15-inch block.

Print on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet.

In 1929 Ruby Short McKim published a pattern
in the Kansas City Star called Strawberry. She added an extra 
seam in the petals.

BlockBase #3640

McKim's name from a mid-20th-c sampler.

A few years later an Oklahoma reader sent another version to the Star.
A real challenge. BlockBase #3637.

1938 Chicago Tribune version

Variations have many names. I'm not going to count them all. I've always liked Victoria's Crown, another Finley name, although I have no idea how old that name actually is.

Online Auction

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

1876: New Fabric/New Ideas


Centennial commemorative calico from L.L. Carroll's collection.

One inspiration for quilt innovations during the Centennial year of 1876 was a good supply of novel cotton prints.

Mills printed commemorative calicoes and bandanas, which found an enthusiastic market. Above an ad in a Nebraska newspaper in May, 1876, offering 14 yards for $1.00, about 7 cents a yard. You were permitted to choose but did you get to mix and match?

Maybe you could choose two colorways of some of the prints like the
leaf with a date print in the center here, a different
color scheme than the same print at the top of the page.

Or three colorways in George Washington.

Chanute, Kansas Times
They were available around the nation.

June, 1876, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

 That year many communities held Centennial Calico Balls
in which women wore calico dresses and men calico print shirts,
 but I haven't found one that required Centennial calicoes.
You can, however, imagine the market.

One of the most detailed prints.

And a related patchwork print made into a doll quilt.

Printed in at least two colorways.

There were jokes...

And fiction.

Kenosha Times, June, 1876

National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian
The Bradbury Family quilt of Centennial print samples.

Merchant John Henry Bradbury was sent samples of Centennial prints for his New York City store.
Harriet Bradbury Rich (1861-1959) donated this quilt recalling that she, her mother and her grandmother began assembling the saved fabric into a simple pattern when she was twelve, about 1873. They might have chosen a nine patch to teach the twelve-year-old to piece but other quiltmakers
had other ideas.

Rather innovative ideas.

New England Quilt Museum Collection

Lydia Lamerson Thorpe, Clinton New Jersey, Hunterdon County Historical Society 
New Jersey project & the Quilt Index

I'll be posting more about Centennial quilts throughout the spring.

See a post about a Centennial print featuring Andrew Jackson: