Saturday, January 5, 2019

How Old is This Quilt?


Here is one of Julie Silber's favorite jokes: When showing a quilt with a prominent date: "How old is This Quilt?" She always makes me laugh.

The quilt belongs to Jeananne Wright and she made a
 beautiful copy for my book Civil War Women twenty years ago

Union Star, hand appliqued and hand quilted by Jeananne Wright, 1999

The quilt is 74" wide and her star blocks look to be about 6".

The vintage quilt must have some link to the Civil War with its patriotic color scheme and date during the war's second year, but we've never pursued the history.


I doubt if the quilt was made in 1862. We have few fabrics to give us clues and they have faded. The blue is a small dotted print, probably indigo, very hard to date as white dots in a half drop repeat on an indigo blue ground are classics found in 1862 and 1902. The red, a solid, looks to have faded rather uniformly to a salmon pink. This may be our best clue, as reds fading to pinkish-orange are common after 1880 when the first cottons dyed with synthetic dyes came on the market. It is just not the red one would see in 1862.

Quilt signed Permelia Ann Watkins, Covington Miami Co Ohio, 1862
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum


Quilt with veteran's names dated 1891,

James Brownell chapter (#26)of the Women's Relief Corps,

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Similar fading problem in a Civil War commemorative quilt dated 1891. 

I did a post on some circa 1900 veteran's quilts with fading reds and blues:



The star quilt looks very much like a G.A.R. or W.R.C. (Union Veteran's organizations)  commemorative from about 1880-1920. The date 1862 may recall the year a unit formed or a battle fought. I wonder if the image might be a corps badge, similar to those on this redwork embroidered quilt.

Embroidered quilt with Corps Badges
Morton Collection, Pasadena Historical Museum

Corps badges were popular imagery on quilts from Union veterans' groups.
So how old is Jeananne's antique quilt?
I'd guess 1880-1920.

BlockBase has a similar pieced pattern (#3683),  published many decades after this quilt was made. 
Print this out for a 6" block. You could piece or applique it.

5 comments:

WoolenSails said...

That is interesting to know about the fading and dyes. Most of the quilts I see in our shops are from the 50's, at least that is what they remind me of.

Debbie

Isabella said...

Don't you just love it when a quilter dates her/his work and in such a prominent place!

The reproduction Union Star quilt looks wonderful. I love the contrast between the faded original quilt and the newer one. It’s interesting to see how time changes everything.

Great post, thank you for sharing.

Carla said...

Interesting about ties to Civil War, or a battle. Had to look up 4th Cavalry just because I see C's with the date in the center. US Army had 4th Cavalry - On 31 December 1862, a two-company squadron of the 4th Cavalry attacked and routed a Confederate cavalry brigade near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Then various states had 4th cavalry regiments made up of volunteers Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Tonya Reichard said...

This article caught my eye when I noticed the picture with the name Permelia associated with it. My second cousin has been doing research into the family and we have a Permelia from the Civil War era also. Very different name for sure but maybe common back then.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

I remember when I first saw this quilt that I thought it was made by a dyslexic (like my sister) quilter who accidentally inverted the "6". It surely looks like an 1892 quilt to me. And, yes Julie does always make us laugh!