Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Fairbanks Quilt & Sanitary Commission Stamps

Fairbanks Sanitary Commission Quilt
About 1863
The Vermont Historical Society owns this
quilt with a Sanitary Commission stamp

It was made in Windsor County, Vermont, attributed to Caroline Bowen Fairbanks. The quilt was apparently donated to the Union hospital service organization, where it received the official stamp of the Union soldiers' aid society.

The quilt is well documented by the museum.

Caroline alternated simple patchwork blocks with plain blocks inked with Bible verses.

Caroline Bowen Fairbanks (1842-1943)
About 1860.

The story with the quilt says that Caro made it soon after her December 25, 1863 marriage to Luke Fairbanks who was home on leave after being injured in the Battle of Lee's Mills, Virginia

Luke was a Captain in the Third Vermont Infantry
by the end of the war.

Caro Fairbanks lived to be almost 101 years old.

The Fairbanks farmed in Vermont, Kansas and Minnesota,
settling near Austin, Minnesota where they are buried.

Another version of the pattern from about 1900

Caro's pattern of alternating blocks is a bit spare.

She seems to have used just one print with plain white.
Her goal was to frame the inked inscriptions.

Different shading effects make a more complex design.

A reader asked what the Sanitary Commission stamps looked like.
I've got photos of four versions.
One from the Fairbanks quilt above.

Another version 
from the Fiske quilt 

They seem to be similar.

From the Ladies of the Fort Hill Sewing Circle quilt, a double outline

Detail of the 1864 quilt made by the 
Fort Hill Sewing Circle. Barbara Knapp Trust

And from a quilt displayed at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in 2012

The stamps are all oval and differ mostly in the center with
half saying U.S. and half having a line there.

1 comment:

Suzanne A said...

A thought on "signature quilts". I made one to memorialize my Aunt's 90th birthday celebration. The pattern I chose used many different fabrics and was complicated to sew. After the gathering and faced with the need to get this done quickly because of her advanced age, I regretted that I had built difficulty into the project with the complicated pattern. Quick, down and dirty should have been the order of the day. No one would have cared about keeping it simple, it was my Aunt and the family signatures that were important. So just getting those signatures snd getting it done should be priorities. Meeting those goals is difficult enough. When I now see a two fabric, simple pattern signature quilt, I think "this quilter knew what she was doing."