Antique Signature Quilt

At the June meeting of Kitsap Quilters Guild, our guest speaker was Susan Underwood, member of the American Quilt Study Group and co-founder of the Washington State Quilt Study Group. The American Quilt Study Group establishes and promotes the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies, providing opportunities for study, research, and the publication of work that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects. Susan has researched and collected quilts since the 1980’s, with a particular interest in 19th century signature quilts and the 20th century quilts that we are likely to find on the West Coast.

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This beautiful quilt top is a spectacular example of an 1840’s signature quilt and is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The style is like those made by the Quakers but the names are Dutch and can be traced back to Dutch immigrants from the Dutch Reform Church. Signature quilts may be useful for genealogists especially when there are dates and blocks with the names of several family members. This quilt top traveled from Pennsylvania to Eastern Washington and Susan purchased it at the estate sale of the daughters of Mary Vanartsdalen. Mary’s signature is shown below along with the date of 1843.

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The quilt top has a great variety of turkey red fabrics including several better quality pieces from France, England and Scotland. The lower quality pieces were made in the USA where the production process was not yet as sophisticated as that used by manufacturers in Europe. The 64 red and white Turkey Tracks blocks are all signed in the center white squares, except for the final column of blocks on the left side which are blank. In this Victorian era, fancy stationary was all the rage and people used inked stamps with ornamental designs, then added signatures. They used these on fabric as well. Some examples are shown below.

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Thank you to Susan for permitting me to share this incredible quilt top.


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