15 January, 2013

Early 20th Century Crib Quilt

Can you identify the characters in this crib quilt?

When I purchased it I recognized it as an early 20th century quilt without batting.  The characters seemed familiar, sort of, but I am unable to find any information about them, or even similar characters.  I purchased the quilt it because I thought it was cute, in good condition, and the price was right.

If you take a closer look you will see that each charachter has embroidered features and details that complete the picture.  Even the nap sack has a face!

Of the 10 characters on the quilt, only one (1) appears to be a girl.  Check out her hair!

Last week, I had an opportunity to share this little quilt with the Mt. Joy Quilt Study Group.

I received a pleasant surprise when I opened my email the next morning.  A dear friend had taken a photo of a similar crib quilt last spring at the National Museum of American History.

Sooooo, I took a quick trip to the Smithsonian website.  It did not take me long to find the '1926 James Cunningham's Appliqued Bedcover'. I learned that the museum's quilt was sent to the United States by Alexander Cunningham, a missionary, from his post at the Presbyterian North China Mission in China.  The quilt and matching pillowcases were a gift for the birth of his nephew James Cunningham.

The Cunningham quilt is made with a darker blue fabric than mine but it is approximately the same size and setting.  There are 20 blocks in both, 10 of which have the appliqued characters performing various activities. Both quilts each have 1 girl.  Both quilts include some of the same characters (accounting for minor differences because both are hand appliqued). Neither quilt has batting or quilting. I left a note for the curator to see if any more can be learned about these charming quilts.

To date, internet searches for similar characters on quilts or other objects has turned up nothing helpful.  If, by any chance you have some clues I would love to hear from you.

Gelukkige quilten!

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