Tuesday, April 8, 2014


When I first started collecting New York Beauty quilts 25 years ago, I would not look at anything less than 100 years old. In my opinion, an object needed to be that old or older to be considered a bona fide antique. As the collection grew, the need to look at later examples was evident.

There was more to the story than the first chapter, so I set out to collect the examples that would give a more complete picture. The quilts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries look very different than the earlier renditions, but their history is much more clear.

Today, there are usually makers' names, dates, locations, published pattern sources, and the specific names quiltmakers used for their quilts. Many of the newer quilts have information labels on the back, but that is not at all the case with the mostly unidentified 19th century quilts.

Including recent examples was a good way to balance the collection. The lack of quality information about the 19th century quilts has been problematic for historians, who have been susceptible to the pitfalls of conjecture and romanticism. Not the case with the more recent quilts, though. Today, the New York Beauty is a universal design. It is not limited to a specific region, and has not been for over 100 years.

My collection of New York Beauty quilts now includes more than 50 quilts with several recent examples, and it is very much a complete package. There are quilts for every decade, a few tops, ephemera, and many publications. I have vintage copies of the 1930 Mountain Mist pattern, a big ring binder full of magazines, books, and even an AQS jigsaw puzzle with Martha Skelton's award winning New York Beauty from 1987.

I cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of balancing the collection with recent works. Now that I am writing a book about these quilts, I will have more than just a vague first chapter. Balance is good! Details about the quilts in today's blog will appear in the upcoming book, which should be available this time next year. 


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