Archive for March, 2012

This quilt (detail shown) is mostly made with mid-18th century fabrics over 18th century linen bed curtains. From the Emerson Homestead collection, it was probably made by Lillian (Ellis) Emerson (1868-1958) in York around 1880. Consisting of voided and plain velvet, satin, prints, chine and plaid fabrics-all of which are commonly found in crazy quilts of the period-this example also includes several jacquard woven silk strips with such exquisite detail that they appear to have a three-dimensional effect.

In 1860, the Cobden Treaty removed England’s protective tariff on silks, brocades and ribbons. Its impact upon Coventry, the center of English ribbon weaving for 150 years, was devastating. One Coventry weaver, Thomas Stevens, was able to survive the depression by improving, adapting, and refining the jacquard loom by a series of inventions so that he could produce silk pieces with such exquisite detail that gave them a three-dimensional effect. He produced pictures, bookmarks, musical notes, lettering and portraits of amazing beauty.

The Emerson quilt includes three Stevengraphs. The one shown above, “The Old Arm Chair”, is dated 1871.

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As tobacco became cheaper in the early 1700s, new smoking tools developed. Pipe furnaces, when placed directly into fire, not only restored pipes stained by tobacco to their original white color but sanitized them as well-a definite plus when you consider that pipes were made available to the general public at taverns! They also served, as one viewer commented, as a means to hold the somewhat fragile kaolin pipes used at the time.



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This strip of embroidered Chinese silk originally decorated the edging of a robe. It was collected by Old York’s patroness, Elizabeth Bishop Perkins’ (1869-1952). Miss Perkins reused the silk, collected in China in the early 1900s, in various “westernized” ways, including skirts and blouses.

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