A most generous reader, Ranger Elaine, has sent me some wonderful treasures from her collection.
The star of the show is this tiny silk-covered accordion book with quilt scraps in it. Elaine thinks it came from Rhinecliff, New York. In 1985, a museum appraiser dated it to 1875 – 1900.
Usually I am looking at quilt fabrics to see if I can figure out their date — this time, I got to work in reverse. Knowing the dates of the fabrics, I looked at my resource books to see what they could tell me about fabrics of that era. I started with Barbara Brackman’s Clues in the Calico.
“Many dyes require a mordanting agent, a substance that fixes the dye into the cloth. For centuries calico printers have taken advantage of this fact to product different shades in a fabric that passes through the dye bath only once. Madder… is an excellent example of a dye that can be mordant printed. The rollers, rather than printing the coloring agent, print figures of mordant. A second mordant is applied with a second roller, a third and a fourth, and when the single coloring agent is applied four colors appear on the fabric. A typical madder-style print color scheme includes red-orange, chocolate brown, black and lavender, all printed with different mordants.” (Clues in the Calico, p. 80)
No lavender in the sample above, but otherwise it seems to fit that description.
I absolutely love that print! I can see it much enlarged as a quilt.
I also looked for information in Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800 – 1960 by Eileen Jahnke Trestain.
“Double (cinnamon) pinks were popular in this period and were often used in brown and pink quilts. These were bright reddish pink with a fine picotage (dot) or with fine lines to produce a light pink ground. They were then printed with a more concentrated area of the same dark pink… Double-pink prints were made unchanged until the 1920s and are presently making a comeback in reproduction fabrics.” (Dating Fabrics, p. 69)
It is such a thrill to see these antique scraps close up. I love looking at the individual threads and seeing how they were spun, looking at the weave structures, and studying the print designs for shapes, details, and colorways.
Another treasure in the care package was a book, Studies in Textile History, published in 1977 by the Royal Ontario Museum. It has 25 articles including topics such as “Icelandic Mediaeval Embroidery Terms and Techniques,” “Lace and Lace-patterned Silks,” and “Some Etruscan Textile Remains.”
I feel so happy to have so many new topics to explore!
Thank you, Elaine, for allowing me to share these treasures!