Around the 1840s American women got caught up in the making of scrapbooks,or “albums”. These paper albums then inspired women make Album quilts and this led to a new level of sophistication in quilt designs.
Taking inspiration from fine china, inlaid furniture and silver patterns, women began reproducing baskets, vases and swag borders in quilts, needlework, samplers and theorem paintings. Similar influences appeared in Pennsylvania fraktur and scherenschnitte paper cut designs.
The resulting quilts are visually strong, beautifully crafted and worth collecting. Notably, specialists now believe the commonalities of design were inspired by magazine illustrations, expensive chintz and toile fabrics. Additionally, there may have been commercially available kits, although no kit maker ha been identified. If there were kits, they were not marketed through newspaper ads, as none have been found.
Like Quilts? Don’t Miss The Modern Art of Antique Quilts during Americana Week
Among the more prominent albums to be sourced, are Baltimore Quilt Albums. These tend to incorporate three main types of designs. There are high-style layered appliqué blocks in fine fabrics; quilts of predominately reds and greens with stuffed appliqué and heavy embroidery; and folksy quilts that includes animals, people and textured fabrics.
As you cruise Americana Week, the quilts are sure to catch your eye. Be sure to ask the expert for a back story. You will be surprised by social context in which they were created.
Editor’s Note: The featured image is a quilt from an article like Jan Whitlock. The hunter with long-gun quilt block is from a Baltimore Quilt Album.