Embroidered Panel (ShowTowel) by Unknown Maker
Origin: America, Southeast, North Carolina, Piedmont
Red and blue cotton embroidery threads on a cotton ground of 36 weft x 33 warp threads per inch (fibers identified by microscope).
Acc. No. 1999-223
This is a rectangular cotton panel embroidered in red and blue cotton threads. The cloth has a 1/4" hem at top and bottom and a 3/8" hem at sides. Centered at top is the embroidered inscription "EL Li 1814 BU." The top two thirds of towel consist of a flowering tree motif with five birds and scattered pinwheel-like motifs. The bottom section consists of flanking large birds perched on branches stemming from large eight-pointed stars. Centered in the bottom section is a leaping stag with an isolated pinwheel-like motif and a tall, slender flowering plant/tree.
Stitches: buttonhole, chain, cross, and herringbone
Label:The exact use of this embroidered panel is not known. It's highly probable, however, that it served the same function as the decorated hand towels of the Pennsylvania Germans where it was a common custom to hang them on doors or use them to cover more functional towels when guests arrived. Hand towels, also called show towels, were usually embroidered in cotton or linen cross stitches on a cotton or linen ground using motifs and patterns from samplers. Many were made by young ladies in anticipation of marriage.
Provenance:Per Sumpter Priddy in 1999: "Old time North Carolina collectors purchased this along with sampler and two dressing table covers from same house outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina 25 to 30 years ago."