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Baltimore Album Quilt

1847-1853
Origin: America, Maryland, Baltimore
OH 99" X OW 84"; 10-13 running stitches per inch
Plain and printed cottons with supplemental details in wool, cotton, and silk embroidery threads; ink; cotton tape; and metal and glass beads
Gift of Marsha C. Scott
Acc. No. 1979.609.14
This is an appliqued "album" type quilt comprised of one large square and sixteen smaller squares. Blocks are ranged in rows of four horizontally and five vertically, with the large square occupying the space of four blocks centered on the second and third horizontal rows from the top. The border consists of red buds and green leaves. The quilting is finely done in a variety of patterns, including pineapples, floral garlands, etc., with areas emphasized with padding. There is notable use of ruching in blocks 1 and 4. Inked details include eagle with banner reading "Chas W. Carter" flying above City Hall in block 3. A small inked monument appears below floral arrangement in block 15. Other inked details include plant tendrils and watermelon seeds (block 10), butterfly antennae (block 15), and birds' feet.

Quilt blocks: 1. Garland with Red Ruched Rose. 2. "Ringgold Monument". 3. U.S> Capitol in Washington, D.C.. 4. Basket of Ruched Flowers. 5. Flowers and Fruit in Green Vase with Red and Yellow Lattice. 6. Floral Center Block. 7. Flowers in Red Vase with Yellow Facets. 8. Garland with Two Yellow Birds. 9. Bird Carrying Branch within Garland. 10. Fruit in Green Compote. 11. Prickly Flowers in Red and Green Vase. 12. Red Vase with Flowers. 13. Cornucopia. 14. Apple Wreath with "S.A.W.L." 15. Urn of Flowers with Bird. 16. Double Cornucopia. 17. Garland of Red Flowers.

The backing consists of a pieced coarse, plain weave, white cotton fabric whose selvages, where intact, measure 35-inches. The 3/16-inch binding is a printed red cotton with a white dot. The top ground fabrics are finer, plain weave cottons, the outer border ground fabric appearing to be slightly whiter than that used for the center. The appliqued swatches are both prints and solids and include rainbow fabrics. In eight of the blocks, wool yarns were used in a variety of ways: as a supplemental embroidery detail and to outline or secure appliques. Most appliques were turned under and secured with overcast stitches, but some having exposed raw edges were secured with blanket or buttonhole stitching. Appliques included both under- and over-laid swatches. Some appliques include ruching, padding, layering, and stuffing. The quilting was done by hand at about 10 to 13 stitches per inch, the stitching stopping short of the applique. The quilting in the outer border consists of diagonal rows of parallel lines, along with eight-lobed flowers in the two lower corners. The interior of the cover is intricately quilted in a wide variety of floral and foliage shapes including a pineapple form, pin wheels, hearts, and lines of contiguous ovals, all surrounded by parallel diagonal lines.
Label:Like other appliquéd album quilts made in the vicinity of Baltimore, Maryland, this quilt consists of elaborately created blocks of appliquéd wreaths, baskets, and urns-in addition to motifs representing urban buildings and civic monuments. Inscribed "Ringgold," the block in the upper left depicts a memorial tribute to Major Samuel Ringgold, a brave Maryland soldier who died in the Battle of Palo Alto, the first engagement of the Mexican War. The building at upper right represents the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D. C., prior to the addition of the wings after 1850. The bedcover is quilted in a wide variety of floral and foliage shapes, pin wheels, hearts, parallel diagonal lines, and ovals in about thirteen stitches per inch.

Family tradition provides a detailed account of this quilt. Sarah Lankford's older brother Henry Smith Lankford (1823-1905) is said to have purchased the individual quilt squares from an auction held in Baltimore by the Order of the Masons. The prefabricated blocks were the work of one or more professional artists. The assembly of the quilt squares and the quilting is attributed to his sister Sarah Anne W[ittington] Lankford prior to her marriage to Samuel Griffin Miles in 1853. Her initials, "S. A. W. L.," are cross-stitched in the center of the lower left apple wreath. Although it is not known if Sarah intended the quilt to be a gift to her brother, the bedcover did descend to Henry's granddaughter and eventually to the family member who made a gift of the quilt to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
Provenance:From the maker to her brother, Henry Smith Lankford (1823-1905), Baltimore and Princess Anne, Maryland, to his granddaughter, Mrs. Jay J. Martin (Priscilla Pinckard Lankford), Pueblo, Col.; to her first cousin, William Marshall Scott, Princess Anne, Maryland, to his daughter, AARFAC's donor, Marsha C. Scott, Richmond, VA.
Mark(s):Cross-stitched in pink cotton off center in the apple wreath in one block is 'S. A. W. L."
Inscription(s):A large tomb in one block is inscribed in metal beads "Ringgold." In another block, above a depiction of the U. S. Capitol building is an ink-drawn bird with a banner in its beak reading "Cha's/W/Carter." In another block is an ink-drawn monument with a banner beneath it reading "Stranger."