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

Book Review by Kimberly Wulfert, PhD


Telltale Textiles: Quilts from the
Historic Deerfield Collection
by Lynne Z. Bassett

"Telltale Textiles," the exhibit catalogue for the quilt exhibit held at Historic Deerfield in the summer 2004, was a pleasure to read and a great deal of quilt history is packed into 40 pages! What it lacks in large pictures of the quilts, is made up for by excellent close-up shots that show the quilting patterns and textile prints. This is particularly important, since many of the quilts were whole-cloth or whitework, where quilting makes the quilt! There are small photos of quilts in period rooms at HD, which is a nice touch. 

But the text is the best part and reason to buy this booklet in my opinion. Lynne Z. Bassett provides so much detail in a brief space, about the early quilt styles, fashions, and design influences, here and abroad. These worked hand in hand, and she points this out throughout and provides pictures of decorative arts and furnishings to supplement the text.
  

This will be a reference book for sure. And it won't take a ton of time to go through. The chapters name the style of quilt discussed. The names are catchy and my favorite is, "Woman Power to Water Power," which discusses what else, but the industrial revolution's impact on textile production. In fact, many of the quilts and topics discussed in the catalogue were topics on Quilt History List (online discussion group) this past year, such as:

  • what makes glazing on wool quilts

  • quilt history myths

  • costs of early calicos in America

  • Marseilles and whitework quilts defined

  • Is it a wool whole-cloth or calamanco

There were some great quotes and figures from 18th and 19th century records and diaries. I'll share one that that stood out for me, as it's from 1843. In "The House Book," Eliza Leslie writes, " Patch-work quilts of old calico are seen only in inferior chambers; but they are well worth making for servant's beds. The custom of buying new calico to cut into various ingenious figures, for what was called handsome patchwork, has become obsolete." 

I didn't know patchwork became obsolete in 1843, and thank goodness there were other's who didn't read her book either! I wonder if it was this kind of thinking that contributed to appliqué quilts being especially popular from 1840-70. 

The catalogue is only available through Historic Deerfield Museum store: Museumstore@historic-deerfield.org 
Phone: 413-775-7170
www.historicdeerfield.org

Book publishers and authors: if you would like your book reviewed on this Website, and it falls within the scope of topics, please contact me personally.

 

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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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