Saturday, April 4, 2015

Quilts at the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair

Women at the fundraising fair in St. Louis in 1864
Stereo photograph by J.A. Scholten

The Missouri Historical Museum has a vivid set of stereocards photographed by J.A. Scholten at the 1864 Mississippi Valley Fair, which raised money for the Union cause towards the end of the Civil War.

Women and children in the children's department booth
selling toys. 
The girl in the white cap is Nelly Grant, the General's daughter.

Patrons could purchase photographs of
her playing the old lady who lived in a shoe.

The collection has several photos of women at their tables selling all kinds of decorative items. In the lower right here the circular frame seems to be holding a hair wreath or a floral wreath of some kind.

Three women pose in the Bed Linen & Quilts Department

See the photo at the Museum's website

The Fair was documented in a publication The Daily Countersign, which is online at this address.
"The Department of Bed Linen and Quilts ...purports to contain only quilts and bed linen, but shows a very fine assortment of sofa pillows and afghans, which would seem more properly to belong to the Fancy Goods Department. They are very elegant, of different patterns, dark and light, large and small. This department occupies two tables, one central and one at the side ; and the central one contains perhaps the most showy of its articles."

The photos are so sharp we can examine the bed linens for sale.
Afghans, needlepoint pillows and over on the left a hexagon quilt.

And on the far right another hexagon quilt behind some
crocheted or knit pillows. This quilt may be the one described in the Countersign:
"There is also a large woolen quilt, of the hexagon pattern, which is entered for the premium, and will also be raffled for, unless disposed of previously. Here one can certainly find quilts and bed spreads of all kinds — silk, cotton and woolen — for large beds, cribs and cradles, plain or highly ornamented."
When I looked at the Museum's site they had only a few of the Scholten pictures on line. But I found several others on Pinterest.

Another of the 54 booths, The Public Schools.  

Where they seem to have shawls and children's  clothing
for sale, and on the walls?
"The department had no room for wreaths and names in the background, for they wanted to display their quilts, of which they have an excellent variety, both silk and cotton. "We noticed, especially, the crib-quilt of the national colors, which always attract the eye. Two other crib-quilts, of different patterns and very neatly made, speak for themselves, and two large silk quilts fill up the remaining space."

The St. Louis Turn-Verein's booth (a German athletic club.)

You could have your fortune told at the Delphic Oracle booth
 right in front of the Bed Linen & Quilts booth.
"Here, surrounded by flaming symbols, the signs of the zodiac, and all other cabalistic characters, abides the Delphi Oracle, and turns the Wheel of Fortune. Approach slowly, and you cannot fail to feel the spirit of the place. Here, within the charmed circle of a table which bears fearful and mys terious signs, while the owl keeps watch above, presides the priestess, who, of course, must of necessity be the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter."


Nann said...

Thank you for another interesting post, Barbara. I enjoyed, and I recommend, Beverly Gordon's "Bazaars and Fair Ladies: a History of the American Fundraising Fair."

WoolenSails said...

It is wonderful that the stereotypes were saved so we can enjoy a piece of quilting history after the civil war. I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.


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