November 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Eagles

Two American eagle quilts, in honor of Veterans Day.

Several years ago, I was honored to be asked to conserve a spectacular eagle quilt.  It is embroidered prominently with the date and location - 1853 and Phelps, at town in upstate New York.  Beyond that, it is totally gorgeous, and in pretty good condition.

I was asked to do the work on this quilt by Mark Wilcox of Summer Antiques in Lake Placid, NY.

He auctioned the quilt at Sotheby's.  The auction catalog has a full description and larger photo.  My blog has photos of the conservation work I did on the quilt.  It is still one of the most important and fun adventures I've ever had in the quilt repair biz.

Well, then a week or so ago, I came across an auction listing at Freeman's for an incredibly similar quilt!  The auction will take place next week.
Photo: Freeman's
The date on this one is 1845.  The descriptive materials say that the name of the quiltmaker is known for this quilt, as it has been handed down in the family.  She was married in 1811, and died in New York state.  She could quite reasonably have been living somewhere in New York at the end of her life when the quilt was made.

I’m wondering whether or not the two quilts were made by the same person.  The borders and the halo over the eagle’s head are very different stylistically.  The designs on the 1845 quilt are quite angular by comparison, and more formal and symmetrical.  I wonder if this was a design that appeared on some other item that quiltmakers were drawn to copy and interpret on their quilts.  I poked around a bit, but haven't found anything yet.

If it was the same person, she was certainly having loads of fun coming up with different ideas!

My challenge to you all - look for a design source for this grand old bird.

Another amazing coincidence is that there is one and only one previous exhibit on the quilt's "resumé", and that was right here in my home town!  And no, I didn't know about it.  Wish I had!



November 2, 2016

Sleuthing Around a Quilt - Part 2 Fabrics

What a lively quilt this is!  A full description is in the previous post.  Here are some more photos of the fun fabrics in the quilt.

1940s, the decade I believe the quilt top was begun.

These stylized flowers in purple and blue seem very 1950s or 60s to me.

The fabric in the center of this block couldn't be more 1950s if it tried!  And I think the floral in the triangles dates to the 1950s, maybe 60s.  I'm pretty sure this whole little block was a patch.  The way the edges lie certainly helps me believe that.  Plus it's not quilted!

I want to place the triangles in the 40s or 50s, and the square in the 60s or even 70s, on the basis of the colors and design styles.

The print in the right hand square is quite 1940s. 
That magenta plaid in the triangles on the left is not!

The grey and soft brown, watercolor style leaf print seems very 60s to me.

I see these bright yellow and kelly green calicos in the 70s.

And here are a few more fabrics, just because they're fun.

Such a cute print, right?

I was really happy to see this print because I used to own pieces of it, one in blue and one in red.  I think I must've used them all up, because I can't find any scraps to photograph.

This pink plaid appears in several squares on the quilt, and every time, the squares are pieced of smaller pieces.  This quilt is definitely about using up scraps.

And finally,
a gorgeous umbrella conversation print.

I welcome any comments or ideas you may have on fabric dates and the construction and repair history of this quilt.  Please write in! 




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