Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Quilts from The Esprit Collection

Crib Quilt was once part of the Esprit Collection
My collection has a connection to Esprit. Following the arrival of the quilt featured in yesterday's blog, I realized I had four quilts that were once part of the Esprit Collection. Two are Amish, and both are unusual examples because of size. The other two are high-style quilts made from the pattern known as New York Beauty, and both are exceptionally high quality.

The Esprit Collection, curated by Julie Silber for many years, originated when Doug and Susie Tompkins owned Esprit and decided to decorate the headquarter with quilts. The richly saturated colors and bold, broad patterns in Amish quilts seemed symbiotic with the Esprit clothing line. The collection is best known for richly saturated Amish quilts, many of which are now part of the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Over the years, the emphasis of the collection evolved, and occasional deaccessions allowed a few lucky collectors to get a small piece of Esprit.

I may be one of the luckier ones. Although four quilts is not a lot, I think the quality more than makes up for lack of quantity. Both of the Amish quilts came from a California eBay seller who had bought them from Susie Tompkins years earlier. There were a few others for sale at the time, but I couldn't afford all of them, so I decided to go for the two small quilts.

Trundle size Tumbling Blocks quilt
I think it was a good choice. When I flipped through "Amish: The Art of the Quilt" and "The Esprit Quilt Collection" catalog, I didn't see pictures of any crib or trundle quilts. I'll have to read through the collection notes more carefully to see how many crib and trundle quilts they had. My guess is not many. The larger, mostly square quilts worked well on the large, exposed brick walls at Esprit. They commanded the space.

Together again!
Most quilt people know about the Esprit Amish quilts, and many have also heard about how the collection evolved toward "Maverick" quilts. What you may not know is Susie Tompkins has also collected classic, masterpiece quilts. These two "New York Beauty" quilts were both part of her collection, and happily, they're still together in my collection.


  1. I blame you for the urgent need I have to make a NYB. It's always been on my 'to do' list, but now it is at the forefront. I want to design one which gets rid of the flattened circles because of the sashing. The designing shouldn't take too long, but the making.....

  2. Amamzing lovely quilts Bill!! What are the size of the smaller ones? It is so hard to have any perspective on blogs.

  3. What an amazing collection of quilts! How lucky you are to have them in your possession. I just found your blog through Kathie at Inspired by Antique Quilts and I sure am glad I did.

  4. My husband worked for Esprit in San Francisco back in the early '90's, so, as a quilter, it was pure heaven visiting him at his office!! The quilts hanging on those walls were simply breathtaking and certainly a sight I'll never forget.

  5. The New York Beauty pieces are wonderful.

  6. So amazing - what a collection! I am enjoying seeing these. Just one Amish quilt would be incredible to own. The NYBs - tremendous!

  7. What a stunning collection!! I arrived here via Inspired by Antique Quilts, and am thrilled that I did!!

  8. Welcome to Wonkyworld! Glad you're enjoying the quilts!!