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Baltimore Album Quilt by Unknown Maker

ca. 1850
Origin: America, Maryland, Baltimore
Top: 89 3/4" (228.0 cm.); Bottom: 91 1/2" (232.4 cm.); Left side: 90 7/8" (230.8 cm.). Right side: 90 1/2" (229.9 cm.) 12 stitches per inch
Cottons with supplementary ink details, silk embroidery threads, and cotton tape
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Foster McCarl, Jr.
Acc. No. 1976.609.6
This is an appliquéd quilt of sixteen blocks arranged in four rows, surrounded by an undulating floral and leaf border in appliqué with stuffed quilting. Roller-printed, solid color, and "rainbow" cottons are appliquéd to create flowers, birds, insects, and buildings. Appliqué techniques include reverse or underlaid and layered. Details are added in ink to show tendrils, seeds, leaf and petal veins, insect antennae, bird feet, window sashes, and cords on flag poles. A narrow white woven cotton tape is couched on red fabric to indicate bricks of building. The border features an appliquéd beehive embellished with silk embroidery threads with silk embroidered bees swarming at lower center. Padded "princess feathers" fill inner areas between garlands, and padded five-petaled flowers fill outer areas. The quilt is edged with red cording and outer edge is bound with green printed cotton. The quilting was done by hand in white cotton thread at about twelve stitches per inch in parallel diagonal lines radiating in four directions, pear or heart motifs, doubled squares set on the diagonal, princess feathers, and flowers.

Block designs:
Grapes with pink bird
Lyre and garland with bird
Fruit in blue compote with knife on rim; inked watermelon seeds
Floral bouquet with brown bird with yellow and red wings
Double cornucopias with flowers surrounding bird with branch in beak
Brick building with blue dome, unidentified
Monument with eagle, flags, and chain fence, representing the Battle Monument in Baltimore
Garland and bird with branch in beak
Bouquet of flowers with three birds and blue ribbon
Monument with flags, eagle at top, and garland, representing the Washington Monument in Baltimore
Domed building with flags and eagle at top, representing the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D. C.
Peacock on branch with butterfly
Garland with flying bird in center
Flowers in two-handled blue urn with butterfly and bird
Flowers in red openwork urn, with bird and butterfly
Garland with bird on twig
Label:Some of the most highly treasured quilts of the nineteenth century are the distinctive and elaborately conceived appliquéd album quilts produced in the Baltimore, Maryland vicinity between about 1845 and 1855. Album quilts were often a cooperative undertaking made up of individual blocks contributed by sometimes as many as ten or more women for an honored recipient such as a bride or minister. Each block was decorated with intricate designs appliquéd, or stitched, to a ground fabric. The appliquéd designs may have been further ornamented with inked, embroidered, or padded details.

A noteworthy trademark of Baltimore album quilts is the sophisticated suggestion of texture and dimension through the careful choice and placement of printed fabric swatches with shaded or "rainbow" prints. A number of Baltimore album quilts feature complex blocks of architectural motifs representing monuments found in Baltimore and nearby Washington, D.C. The four blocks in the center of this quilt show (upside down, from left to right) unidentified building and the Battle Monument in Baltimore, and (right side up, from left to right) the Washington Monument in Baltimore and the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Provenance:The quilt was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Foster McCarl, Jr., Beaver Falls, PA, who acquired the quilt from Mrs. Frank Beaver, Ho-Ho-Kus Township (now Mahwah), NJ, who acquired it from Mrs. William (Florence) Peto, where it was found in the Wilmington, Delaware-Chester, Pennsylvania area.
Inscription(s):The eagle over the Washington Monument holds in its beak a banner inscribed in ink "E Pluribus Unum."