Saturday, September 19, 2020

Haskins Crazy Quilts: Three Family Treasures

The Haskins family of New England created this cotton crazy quilt
with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the upper corner.
It's really not a Civil War quilt---except for the memorial to
a President assassinated about 30 years before it was made.
However, exploring the context and certainly looking at the quilt(s) are entertaining activities.

82 x 69"
The quilt with the Lincoln portrait is in the Shelburne Museum, attributed to
Delphia Noice Haskins (1816-1892) or her daughter
 Ada M. Haskins Pierce (1850- ?)

Animals, domestic and exotic, are featured.
The museum bought this piece in 1956.

Delphia (1816-) spent her later years in Rochester, Windsor County, Vermont, having also lived in Granville, Addison County, Vermont and Claremont, New Hampshire. An alternative name is Adelpha Noyes Haskins. Her husband was Samuel Glover Haskins (1813-1887) 
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When her son Benoni Haskins married Ella Randall of Woodstock, Vermont in 1870 her name is listed as Delphi A Haskins. Benoni was born in Claremont, New Hampshire and at 27 was a "Merchant" in Rochester (possibly Benoni supplied the cotton for the quilts.)

Ada moved to Waterbury, Connecticut after marrying Charles F. Pierce in March, 1877


Three years later the census found Delphia living in Rochester with her husband and daughter Mariett. She  had at least three children, Benoni, Marriett and Ada.

The quilt picturing Lincoln is one of three similar quilts attributed to the family.
Human figures populate each.

Over the years the quilt with the Lincoln portrait has been discussed and dated to various times:
"At the time this quilt was made, Delphia Haskins and her husband, Samuel, were living in Rochester, Vermont, and operating a tailoring business with their seven daughters. It is likely that Delphia made this quilt as a wedding present for her daughter, Ada, who was married in 1877. Two other appliqu├ęd crazy quilts, almost identical to this one, are still owned by members of the Haskins family and were probably made for other daughters."   http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/2aa/2aa459.htm 
Black cottons in styles popular after 1890

 We know more about dating quilts today. These quilts were definitely not made in the 1870s---style and fabrics are wrong for those years. Cotton crazies and many of the prints (e.g.1888 campaign fabric) are more likely to date from the 1890s and into the 20th century.

Mother Delphia died of pneumonia at 76 in February 1892 in Rochester, leading us to assume her daughters as the quiltmakers. The idea of the family being in the tailoring business is intriguing---professional seamstresses.

The other two quilts are oriented on the diagonal, repeating
crows, deer and human figures...

each of which look to be as much a portrait as Abraham Lincoln's block.

Images of  President Benjamin Harrison and Levi Morton from an
1888 campaign textile are included to the left of a house block.

This quilt is on the cover of Henry Joyce's 
Shelburne catalog Art of the Needle, which pictures
all three quilts.


The third quilt, still in private hands, is also oriented on the diagonal has many duplicate or similar blocks, animals, portraits and a house.


Quirky as the quilts are they seem to be one family's interpretation of several patchwork fashions of the era...


1) Crazy quilts---although the crazy, irregular pieces are secondary to the portraits and animals.


2) Outline embroidery. There aren't many actual outlined blocks but one can imagine that several appliqued portraits and animals were inspired by that extremely popular imagery.

A cherub


3) Noah's Ark quilts. This fashion, about content rather than technique, has been studied less but nevertheless it was quite the thing to make quilts picturing animals wild and domestic, probably as entertainment for children.

Read more about Noah's Ark quilts here:

Noah's Ark---pairs of animals in Georgia artist
Harriet Powers's quilt in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

3 comments:

Lady Locust said...

I so adore crazy quilts. It’s intriguing that there are 3 bu the same maker(s)/family. It makes one wonder if they were the result if “relaxation time” needlework. Beautiful.

Shasta Matova said...

Oh wow this is amazing. I especially like the portraits. I am making a crazy quilt right now so it is wonderful to see this inspiration. Thank you.

Kerry said...

One of the ladies in the portrait blocks seems to have bare arms. Love these crazies!