Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mrs. Poyner's Quilt

Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts called "Where have I seen that quilt before?" and the first quilt featured was this gem, made by Mrs. M.E. Poyner of Paducah, Kentucky some time around the Civil War. For more background on this quilt, click here and here.

Today, I learned something I didn't know about the quilt. In the latest edition of QuiltFolk, featuring the great state of Kentucky, Mary Fons wrote an article about beloved friend and mentor, Shelly Zegart. In the feature, there was a photo of "Quilt Day Winners" from the Kentucky Quilt Project, and one of the quilts Mrs. Poyner's quilt!

Mrs. Poyner's quilt (upper right) was one of the Quilt Day Winners!
I was blown away, but at the same time, unsurprised. I'd always wondered which quilts were the quilt day winners in Kentucky. It's like the stuff of legends, even though I could find out easily...if I could just remember to ask Shelly about it.

Some background: In 1980, Shelly Zegart spearheaded the effort to document quilts in Kentucky, which was originally the idea of collector and dealer Bruce Mann. Sadly, Mann was killed in a car accident before he could make the dream come true. So, Shelly made it happen. As it turned out, the landmark survey was the first statewide quilt documentation survey in the United States.

Kentucky ran a series of Quilt Days, inviting everyone to bring their best quilts. As extra incentive, there were cash prizes offered for the best quilt brought in each day by the general public. I can only imagine the look on Shelly's face the day collector Hardin Pettit walked in with Mrs. Poyner's quilt. What a discovery it was!

Today, the quilt is famous as a quilt can be. It's been in a number of publications and traveled far and wide for exhibitions. People in quilt history circles have most likely seen it any number of places. Thank you, Mary Fons and QuiltFolk for revealing something I did not know-- a cool fact about the quilt and its long journey.


  1. I just received my copy of Quiltfolk, here in Australia and I will read that article tonight.