Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Botanical applique quilt, cottons, unknown maker, United States, c. 1850, 96" x 102"
It was one of those West Coast Sunday night auctions. I had my lucky charm with me. Several of the most prolific antique quilt dealers were in the midst of breaking down their booths at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Other potential bidders recently dropped a good chunk of change with the same dealers at another event in New Hampshire, hosted by the American Quilt Study Group.

For whatever reason, the potential bidders were absent when the bidding for this magnificent botanical applique quilt opened. What luck! It ended quickly, and the quilt was worth ten times the hammer price. I made out like a bandit. I was also kind of speechless.

It was most likely made in the eastern United States, perhaps the southeast; and it was probably made before the Civil War, when very large, finely made applique quilts were popular. There is some debate about the botanical motif, which appears to be a floral bud or berry. Some folks think it's a strawberry. Others think it's a thistle. I'd like to ask a botanist who has no knowledge of quilts. It would be interesting to hear what they had to say.

There are nine blocks, each with four branches intersecting diagonally with a central flower. The blocks are surrounded by a meandering vine border. The thing is huge-- 96" x 102". It was a beast to photograph, larger than my quilt stand could really handle, but I made it work. The appliqué and quilting were all done by hand, and the quilt was finished with a fine, quarter-inch applied red binding. Wow! Just wow!


  1. Geez Bill! I thought the last quilt you posted was fabulous but this one is gorgeous too! Glad it went to you and you got a great price!!!!

  2. I’m happy for you and happy that it belongs to someone who loves it.

  3. If I were to guess the flower would be a Peony. Just a thought

  4. I am very happy for you and thanks for sharing the photos. It is an amazing quilt, so colorful and in good condition. Lovely!