Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Comparing Quilts

Two of the quilts in my "New York Beauty" collection are rare variations that include appliqued vines rather than the traditional pieced sashing typically done with rows of points.

Neither of these quilts came with any family information, but they both share characteristics in common with a group of five quilts documented in Tennessee in the mid-1980s. These five quilts appear in the Quilt Index database.

The earliest dated quilt of the group was made in the 1850 to 1875 period and attributed to Elmira Duncan Pearce of Sullivan County. Pearce was Scottish, and the family name for the quilt was "Rocky Mount Quilt (of Scotland)". According to the record, Pearce had a quilter who lived in the house and made quilts. Four sisters, who were Pearce's granddaughters, had owned the "Rocky Mount Quilt (of Scotland)" and passed it down to a niece who was the current owner at the time of the survey. A caregiver of the niece provided the information to the documenters.

new arrival!
This quilt arrived on my doorstep yesterday was made by an unknown maker in the late 19th century. It was auctioned in 2012 by a California auction house, and there was no information in the listing other than photos and approximate dimensions, 6 feet five inches by five feet three inches.

It is solid red, Shaker gray, and solid white, and includes curvy vines with leaves and flowers or buds made of diamond-shaped pieces. The pieced cornerstone design has a two-color, 10-pointed radiating sunburst. There are also 10 points on each of the four solid red arcs in the block.

The other quilt in my collection that shares similarities was made in the late 19th century by an unknown maker, and was found in Kentucky. It came from Stella Rubin, a quilt dealer in the Washington D.C. area, and had appeared in her advertisement in Antiques and Fine Art Magazine in 2010. The quilt was sold before the magazine hit the newsstands.

It is solid green, brown, orange and white, and includes stylized zig-zag vines with leaves and pomegranates. The three-color pieced cornerstone design has a 12-pointed radiating sunburst. Each of the four arcs in each block includes two rows of points. There are 11 full points and two half points along the outermost curved seam of the arc, and seven full points and two half points on the inner curved seam. The half points bookend each row, and there is a border of points around all four sides.

The vine sashing variation has reappeared in the last 15 years. One quilt called "Last Rose of Indian Summer" by Charlotte Huber was published in Quilters Newsletter in 1998. The four-page article included no historical information about the pattern, just instructions for making Huber's quilt.

Barbara Brackman designed a pattern called "Crown of Thorns", which was published in 2000 by Sunflower Pattern Co-operative of Lawrence, Kansas. The pattern doesn't replicate any one design. It is an interpretation of elements seen in multiple quilts- the ones found in Tennessee.

This screen shot shows another quilt sold at auction in 2012 through Case Antiques. It had come from East Tennessee, Sullivan County. All five quilts on the Quilt Index came from the same vicinity in Tennessee.

Although both of my quilts likely originated in other places, it's interesting to compare them to the ones found in Tennessee. Some of the designs and colors share similarities, but there are also key differences that seem to disconnect them from the eastern Tennessee quilts.


  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing the photos and the quilts history.

  2. Exquisite quilts. Very informative post. Thank you.