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New Pathways into Quilt History written by Kimberly Wulfert, www.antiquequiltdating.com

Book Review by Kimberly Wulfert, PhD

Antique Quilts & Textiles - A Price Guide
to Functional and Fashionable Cloth Comforts

by Bobbie Aug and Gerald Roy
published by Collector Books 2004

This one-hundred-ninety-one page book of color pictures really covers the gamut of antique textiles we collect if fabric is our object of desire. Eighty-five pages are devoted to quilts which include doll and crib sizes, tied quilts called comforts, whole-cloths, and tops too. There are many detail shots which highlight the fabrics. The full size pictures vary, but average is 4"X4", and the details is half that size. Keeping in mind the aim of the book is to ascribe a dollar value, as it is called "A Price Guide", the size is of less importance than in a book highlighting an exhibit or museum's collection. 

The colors are distinctive in some photos more than others. A description of the primary colorways would be a welcome addition. If the reader is quite familiar with antique fabrics it won't be hard to imagine the prints and colors, but for the novice it might be difficult to make accurate comparisons when using this book to evaluate their quilt or fabric. The description Aug and Roy give varies, but usually includes the block and quilting pattern, fiber type, hand or machine work, edging method, batting, backing fabric, circa date, state of origin, size, condition and a value range. There is no explanation given for the estimated value of the item. Traditionally, condition plays a large part in that value. When this is constant, the reader is left to wonder why two same patterned and dated Pennsylvania log cabin quilts have a $450.00 value difference. This is just one example.

Most of the pieced quilts in the book are from Pennsylvania, few are from new England, and fewer still are from Midwestern or southern states. The dates jump all over the place, necessitating a reader to go through page by page when attempting to locate a quilt similar to their own. The section on pieced quilts appears to have erroneously included a 1920s acetate whole-cloth quilt, 20th century whole-cloth embroidered quilts, and a yoyo coverlet. There are 4 appliqué quilts in their own section. There are two each dated 1850 and 1940. These are hardly representative of the appliqué quilts made. The authors write in the introduction that the quilts are from their collection. This book would be a more helpful guide if other quilts had been brought in to fill the gaps in their collections.

The remainder of the book has a few pages each dedicated to pillow shams, bonnets, aprons, quilted petticoats, three of which are machine quilted, woven coverlets, children's clothing, bed linens, hand towels, hooked and braided rugs and yardage or fabric pieces. The descriptions are vague and don't mention condition. Without condition, specific dates and sizes, the fabric values given are useless, but swatch photos are always fun to see. One of the fabrics pictured, I think, is quite rare. It was made to commemorate the 1851 Crystal palace Exhibition in London. The Queen's portrait is in a cartouche with British flags crossing overhead. Appearing behind and beneath this motif is an arial view of the fairgrounds, with roses and plumes as a border print. Tiny flowers fill the sky above the fairgrounds, which is the remainder of this border print.

The Glossary they provide contains three words, all of which describe a quilting pattern. Other words that went undefined in the text, that could have been in the glossary were, Boutis, Bolton and Candlewick. These whitework bedcovers (or coverlets or counterpanes?) were under the heading of whole-cloth bedcovers, and were the only whole-cloth covers shown. None were the traditional whole-cloth wool quilts. One was made of gold silk.

I find the usefulness of this book questionable. In the introduction the authors agree that the retail prices they provide are not to be used to assess the value of their item. Actual value is dependent on condition, and supply and demand in different regions.  Most or at least many of the items are from northeastern states, making the price more reflective of this region. How valuable then are the prices in this price guide for other regions of the united States? However, it is always helpful and informative to see items made and used before our time. 

This book can be purchased from AQS and Amazon.com

Book publishers and authors: if you would like your bookreviewed on this Website, and it falls within the scope of topics, pleasecontact me.


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© 2004 - 2016 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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