Friday, August 5, 2011

Beauty Secrets: My Second New York Beauty

Twelve years after I bought my first New York Beauty, I found a second one. I'd seen only a few other examples along the way and was still very disconnected from the quilt world, but I was starting to buy through eBay, was finding several quilt dealers online. From time to time I visited Shelly Zegart's web site, where she had quilts for sale. That's where I found this quilt.

It was listed some time around Christmas, but it wasn't listed long because I bought it in January, 2001. The quilt would be a nice companion to the red, white, and green quilt I'd bought in 1989, I thought, but there were significant differences.

The dark, solid navy background was one thing. The thickness and loft was another. Then there was the basic grid quilting, and rustic, loomed backing fabric. Clearly it was more of a utility quilt, even though the piecework was very well done. The tan fabric was another color at one time, but had faded.

Around that time, I started to see other New York Beauties called by different names, particularly Rocky Mountain Road and Crown of Thorns. I wasn't as enthralled with the names as I was with the quilt's design and its rarity as a collectible. To me, there was something very American about these quilts. I didn't see them every day, but made a subconscious decision to buy every one I saw if I could afford it.

This quilt is currently on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon, as part of "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" through October 1st. The exhibit is part of Quilt County, a biennial, countywide celebration of quilts. An 80-page, full-color printed catalog is available in limited numbers at the museum, and online through Blurb. To preview or purchase the catalog, click here.


  1. I am so enjoying these stories - please keep them coming!

  2. Every quilt has a story, and I learned something from each of them. A friend who saw the pictures of the exhibit said the first thing she noticed was the similarity between all the quilts. Then all she could see was the differences, and that's when it became a more complex visual statement. I agree.

    For me, it boils down to individuality. The quilts may seem like they're from the same tribe, so to speak, but each is an individual. As a group, they represent diverse individuals who lived and made quilts during the last 150 years.