|The Wine Glass, c. 1925, found in Texas|
I bought the quilt in January, 2004, from a quilt dealer in Texas. The price was reasonable, and I thought it was charming. It was called a "Goblet" quilt and described as a "cute, country quilt in rare pattern. Muted browns and cadet blues in plaids, stripes, checks and prints. Medium weight batting."
The pattern appears to be Brackman # 945, The Wine Glass, published in the Oklahoma Farmer Stockman in 1920. It also resembles later patterns from the mid-to-late 1930's attributed to Hearth and Home by Wilma Smith and the KC Star. Names include Goblet, Water Glass, The Old Fashioned Goblet, and Tumbler.
|When flipped, the goblets look like carafes or milk bottles.|
When I first got the quilt, someone said you could flip it, and the goblets would become carafes, decanters or milk bottles. I didn't find any references to a carafe, decanter, or bottle pattern in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
A recent online discussion among quilt historians raised other questions about the origins of the pattern, including a theoretical link to the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Apparently, women in the WCTU made quilts using the Goblet and the Drunkard's Path patterns, and to them, the quilts represented a condemning statement about the evils of alcohol consumption.
The discussion was quite passionate, and included many points about origins, meaning, and intent. At first, the theories about the WCTU and these patterns seemed implausible to me. I think it's because I find so much humor in both patterns. To me, the iconography in both designs represents more of a glorification or lighthearted representation than a condemnation.
I thought about it over the weekend, and citing the example of the massively misinterpreted song "Every Breath You Take" recorded by the Police in 1982, I realized something. The pop song, written by Sting, was adopted as a popular wedding song, but Sting called it a "sinister and ugly" song about a controlling character who is watching "every breath you take, every move you make." With this song, the public adopted it as something that was very far removed from the artist's intent.
Could the Women's Christian Temperance Union have done the same thing with the Goblet and Drunkard's Path? Were the patterns invented elsewhere, and later adopted by the WCTU for what the icons meant to them? More importantly, did they bend the meaning into something it hadn't been originally? Did they miss the point by missing the humor?