Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elongated Diamond Sashing - A Regional Trait?

I've been curious about the location origins of a quilt I bought in the last year, and found some interesting information on the Quilt Index. The quilt is a Rocky Mountain Road / Crown of Thorns from the 1860's, a pattern that was later called New York Beauty, and one of its distinguishing characteristics is elongated diamond sashing.

The quilt once belonged to Susie Tompkins of Esprit, who purchased it from America Hurrah in New York in the early 1990's. I bought it from Tompkins, through Julie Silber of The Quilt Complex. Whenever I see an early quilt of this pattern, I usually think it could be from Tennessee or Kentucky. It's a southern pattern, and many of the great early examples on the Quilt Index were documented in Kentucky or Tennessee. However, the information I found on the Quilt Index suggests this quilt could be from North Carolina.
Six North Carolina quilts with diamond sashing made from 1850-1900
There are just six quilts on the Quilt Index made between 1850 and 1900 with elongated diamond sashing done in rows. All six were documented in North Carolina. Shared characteristics include the white background, red spiked quarter circles, borders, and blue or green elongated diamond sashing. These six quilts share two primary characteristics that are not present in my quilt. They are all square, and all have sunburst-in-square cornerstones. My quilt is rectangular and has no cornerstones.

Block and sash detail of damaged quilt from an eBay seller in Indiana
I have one other quilt in my collection with this type of sashing. It is the damaged quilt featured in my film, Beauty Secrets. It came from an eBay seller in Indiana and dates from the 1870's, but the location origin is unknown. The quilt is rectangular, it has three colors with a white background, two-color sunburst cornerstones, and border.

Quilt pictured from Cindy Rennels' web site
Where else have I seen this sashing? Just one place: quilt dealer Cindy Rennels has one for sale. The quilt is attributed as being from Georgia, although it could have been collected there and made elsewhere. This quilt is also rectangular, with three colors on white, two-color sunburst cornerstones and border.

If you're counting, that's nine Rocky Mountain Road / Crown of Thorn quilts I've seen with the elongated diamond sashing. Several other examples exist with sashing that looks like elongated diamonds but is actually pieced points on a central strip. Those quilts were not included in this search result. Six of the quilts with true elongated diamond sashing come from North Carolina, and the other three are either unattributed or loosely attributed to other places.

So, what are the implications for the unidentified quilt from America Hurrah and Esprit? I believe I should say it is "location unknown, possibly from North Carolina" in my notes. From here, attributing this quilt to a location will depend on other characteristics. The color scheme, for example, is a rusty brown and Prussian blue on beige or cream. The quilting is dense, decorative and masterfully executed. These traits could point to North Carolina, as well as Kentucky, Tennessee, and other southern states. It is unclear whether or not any of these characteristics will ultimately lead to a more specific place of origin, or if the lack of cornerstones and rectangular shape of the quilt will support the idea about North Carolina.

What do you think? Have you seen the elongated diamonds in other quilts of this pattern? If you have, please comment.


  1. What a great blog. I just found you and I'm taking your RSS feed. Keep it up!

  2. Your Rocky Road quilt is wonderful. Reminiscent of your Couchman/Small album quilt with the same rich "Oxblood" red and dense quilting. Thanks for such detailed photos where we can see clearly it is hand pieced! a most talented quiltmaker indeed!

  3. I will add another interesting quilt. Check out this one at the Manitoba Museum - http://www.manitobamuseum.ca/main/search/history/search_history_results.php
    This quilt was made in England as a wedding gift to the donor’s great-great grandparents in 1849. That seems a little early to me. If this information is correct, in all likelihood, the quilt pattern may have been imported from the US. Terry in St-Pierre-Jolys, MB