Archive for March, 2015

Lydia Fraser on the “Arthur D. Jenkins Library” and Jenkins’ Contributions to the Textile Museum, Generally

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2015 by rjohn

On November 8, 2014 Lydia Fraser,


The Textile Museum Librarian, gave a program in which she talked about the Library’s founder Arthur D. Jenkins, the benefactor of the 20,000-volume library that bears his name. She described the Library as “a fabulous resource for the study of textiles, and includes many rare books and folios. “

Lydia first joined The Textile Museum in 1997 as assistant registrar.  Since that time she has been a member of the curatorial team and served in a number of consultant roles.

As Librarian of the Arthur D. Jenkins Library of Textile Arts she melds over 15 years of subject area expertise in textiles with academic and professional training in knowledge organization. 

She is a weaver with an affinity for textiles of Southeast Asia and is passionate about the power of textiles to connect people and cultures.

These RTAM programs, we should begin to say often, are provided under the aegis of both The Textile Museum and The George Washington University and Museum.

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Before Lydia began Russell Pickering,


who knew and worked with Jenkins for a number of years, talked about his remembrances of Jenkins and his very substantial contributions, not just to the TM library, but to the management and development of the TM during the years when Jenkins was the TM board president.  Russ is a great Jenkins admirer.

What follows is what Russell said in this session and in a subsequent interview with him.  I have also drawn on some published material.

Russell said that when he was first in The Textile Museum in the 1960s, it was a very quiet place (membership was only 300). In a sense, Russ said, his remembrance of Arthur Jenkins is about the very great impact Jenkins had on the TM and its growth over the next twenty years, at which point membership had reached 3,000.

Myers had died in 1957 and Jenkins (who had been collecting since the 1920s) was, significantly, someone who had known Myers.

As a major collector, Jenkins gradually became an important part of The Textile Museum world, eventually becoming a member of its board, and, ultimately, board president.

Jenkins owned and managed a successful publishing company in the Midwest, and knew how organize projects and to deal with and manage people effectively. Russell says that Jenkins ran things with a “firm hand,” but also delegated “with a long flexible leash.” Jenkins had a sense of humor and an attractive personal manner that made him effective with both men and women.

Jenkins frequently contributed large amounts of financial support to TM exhibitions. In an outstanding instance he engineered the exchange of some pre-Columbian gold the TM had for a world-class group of dated Spanish rugs that the Dunbarton Oaks Collection held. The exchange included an additional payment by the TM to the Dumbarton of $50,000. Jenkins personally supplied a large part of that amount. Jenkins’ willingness to be of financial support was also illustrated with much smaller-gauged examples. At one point it was decided to open a TM shop on the premises and the woman who was in charge of the project came to Mr. Jenkins and said that she needed funds for initial stock purchases. Jenkins wrote her a check.

In 1962 Jenkins donated to the TM his personal rug and textile library of over 850 titles. He estimated that this gift included some 80 percent of total number of textiles books published since 1770. His intent was to create “the most complete research facility” in the U.S. devoted to oriental rugs.

In 1963 Jenkins and McCoy Jones mounted an exhibition of over 100 rugs and textiles at the TM, drawing on both of their collections. Jenkins seems to have drawn on his publishing expertise as he arranged for all of the photos of the exhibition pieces included in the catalog. Jenkins announced in this 1963 catalog that he was donating his collection to the TM. He says in this catalog that he sees himself as “the first rug collector to give his complete support to the Textile Museum.”

Jenkins’ gift of his rug book collection to the TM resulted in movement of Myers book collection from the residence to the third floor of the exhibition building where it was combined with Jenkins’ donation.

In the mid-1970s, because of the increased interest in textiles, the TM board undertook a major reconfiguration of the TM buildings. The entrance was moved from the exhibition building to the former Myers residence building and provided increased space for staff and meetings and the museum shop.

In 1978 Jenkins organized and conducted the first ever fundraising drive for the TM. Three million dollars was realized, an amount which would be a much larger sum today. This permitted the complete renovation of the of the Museum buildings to provide increased exhibition space and the first storage space in the TM’s history.

Jenkins was also an important force in some of the important exhibitions and publications that occurred during his tenure. He was an important supporter of the seminal exhibition of and catalog for the “From the Bosporus to Samarkand: Flat Woven Rugs” by Anthony Landerau and Russell Pickering in 1969. (Jenkins was an important collector of flat woven pieces and the color image inside the front cover of this catalog was from Jenkins’ collection.) This exhibition was a traveling one, under the aegis of The Smithsonian Institution. The ground-breaking catalog had to be reprinted repeatedly and was a huge financial success. In 1976, Tony Landreau curated an exhibition and catalog for “America Underfoot: A History of Floor Coverings from Colonial Times to the Present.” America Underfoot was also selected to be a Smithsonian traveling exhibition.

In 1980 Jenkins, as TM board president, wrote the forward for the catalog of the ground-breaking exhibition “Turkmen,” edited by Louise Mackie and Jon Thompson. This catalog was seen as the standard work on Turkmen weaving, and is still consulted usefully. Since Jenkins had long collected Turkman weavings, this exhibition and catalog are peppered with high quality Turkmen pieces from his collection, including the stunning Salor pile trapping, heavily decorated in silk which is (John Howe speaking now) “the most sumptuous Turkman textile I have ever had in my hands.” In that same year some work by Russell Pickering, Ralph Yohe, and Pat Fiske resulted in, perhaps, the first exhibition and publication to treat Moroccan rugs and textiles seriously . This work ultimately resulted in two catalogs/books. The first of these “From the Far West: Rugs and Textiles of Morocco,” 1980. And a second “Moroccan Carpets,” in which Pickering and Yohe, were joined by Pickering’s daughter Brooke. This second volume was published in 1994.

The approximate 20 years that marked Jenkins tenure as an important participant in the TM was a period marked by strong leadership and management, high-quality research, dazzling exhibitions, and fertile publications. Russell feels that the accomplishments of the Jenkins era were extraordinary. He says that he hopes that this RTAM program and the words said in it will bring to participants (and now readers) attention the fact that Jenkins’ contributions to the TM go far beyond his generous gift of his rug library and of his textile collection. He was a real force for excellence.

Lydia said that she didn’t know Arthur Jenkins, but that “after working on this presentation, I must say I wish I had.  The Textile Museum attracts so many interesting and unique personalities, Arthur D. Jenkins was no exception.”

She asked whether there was anyone else in the audience had known Jenkins and  Kathy Freshley, a former TM Librarian, shared her own remembrances.  What follows here is a subsequent write-up Kathy provided.


Arthur D. Jenkins Library Remembrances
Katherine Freshley

As a beginning weaver, I fell in love with ethnographic textiles, discovered and then became a member of the Textile Museum in 1970. In 1974 I responded to a TM newsletter requesting library volunteers. Another volunteer and I were charged with turning this gentleman’s library into a professional special library that could eventually be open to researchers and the public. I learned that Arthur Jenkins, a board member, had donated a significant collection of books and was anxious to have these volumes along with his extensive collection of newsletters, articles and clippings available to other collections and scholars. The Textile Museum applied for a foundation grant to fund this transformation and once it was approved in 1975 I was hired part-time (19 hours/week) as the Textile Museum’s first librarian. I had a MA degree in Library Science and threw myself into this wonderful project.

At that time of my arrival the library was located in the top floor of the Waddy Wood building with the Western Hemisphere textile flat files. Also located on that floor were the curatorial offices of Ann Rowe and Irene Emery.

In addition to bookshelves along the end wall, the primary piece of furniture was a very long table and ten or more handsomely carved wood chairs with leather seats. Both Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Myers organized their libraries by the subjects they were most interested in; hence articles in journals were interfiled with books on that subject. For example, an article on Caucasian rugs would be placed next to books on that subject ignoring all the other articles in that journal that might be of interest to others. So initially I began by separating the journals from the books. Soon the entire library table was filled with stacks of rare journals, such as Ciba Review. I discovered that the library had complete sets of rare journals. We created a separate periodical section in the library and began cataloguing each journal article so it could be easily located.

Cataloging this collection was a huge under taking, as none of the materials had ever been formally cataloged previously. After talking with the curators, I realized that most curators and researchers like Mr. Myers and Mr. Jenkins, wanted to find textile and rug books organized first by place of origin and then by textile techniques. Unfortunately both the Dewey Decimal and the Library of Congress cataloging systems organize first by technique, such as lace, tapestries, etc. This worked for most European or American textile collections but not for a specialized textile library that focused on textiles and rugs primarily from the southern hemisphere. Knowing it would be more expensive in the long run to create a new cataloging system, it was nevertheless agreed that a customized system would best serve TM’s curators, scholars and the public. It was quite a challenge but I was able, with the guidance and approval of staff, to create a unique cataloging system for the library that I am pleased to learn is still in use to this day.

Next I began an inventory of the book collection and created policies such as the number of copies we would hold of the same title. The depth and breathe of the collection was impressive, but slowly the gaps, especially in non-rug areas, such as Pre-Columbian, Indian and Indonesian textiles where the museum had significant holdings began to be identified. This is where Mr. Jenkins became critically important.

Mr. Jenkins typically came to DC only for TM board meetings, but while visiting he soon became an active presence in the library and encouraged the professional direction of the library. He made annual restricted gifts to the museum to fund new acquisitions, acquire rare books or purchase equipment such as a photocopy machine, when needed. He often called to tell me when a rare book on our “must have” list was included in an auction sale and often bid on these items to donate to the library. We developed a wonderful partnership.

The work at the library depended on volunteers, as I was the only paid staff member. Happily we were fortunate to have an amazing group of regular volunteers many whom were also docents. Joan Batchelor, Louise Belcher, Jean Bryant, Blenda Femenias, Jannes Gibson, and Betty Wright, among others came weekly for years and some continued after I left in 1986. Joan was our bookbinder since many older volumes had some damage. She even took classes at the Library of Congress’ bookbindery to learn the best conservation techniques for rare books.
Without their support we never would have been able to catalogue, organize, and maintain the collection.

The library was always available by appointment to scholars and collectors but at some point it began to have regular public hours. I cannot recall when that happened, but soon a steady array of fascinating people arrived researching rugs and ethnographic textiles and techniques. Often they recommended other important acquisitions for the library and as a consequence the library collection grew considerably.

Soon our limited shelving was bursting at the seams as was other parts of the museum. While the museum underwent a total renovation, the library was moved to the basement of the Pope building where public hours continued. The attic space in the Wood building was then totally remodeled to accommodate a larger library. I worked with the architect on its design. The library featured a “U-shaped reception desk facing the entrance with a bookcase along the back and folio storage along one edge. New stacks were installed that filled the center and interior wall of the library. The reception desk divided the public area from the work area. It was a marvelous light-filled functional space. Three smaller reading tables and a built-in counter workspace were placed in front of the dormer windows. After a few years however the museum learned that the dead weigh of the books was too much for the joists supporting the floor to bear. Significant repairs to the joists and ceiling below the library had to be done to correct this dangerous situation. Some overflow storage of rarely used books began to be moved back to the basement to lessen the load.
I forget the exact timing, but while I was the librarian a reference book publisher approached the library asking if they could photograph the entire card catalog and publish it. We all were quite proud that the TM library was considered significant enough for this endeavor. The TM library became a member of the DC Special Library group and began making and receiving inter-library loans to the Smithsonian, Library of Congress and select university libraries to further the research of TM’s curators and other scholars.

I believe it was after Mr. Jenkins died that the TM Board named the library after him, but it could have been when the library reopened after its renovation. Nevertheless, it was a well-deserved tribute to his generosity, leadership and annual contributions. His portrait was placed by the library’s entrance and he left TM money in his will to continue to support the library and its collections.

He was a crusty sweetheart of a man who was always willing to help or contribute if a strong case could be made. He once even successfully bid for me on an Uzbekistan door hanging that I loved and could afford at a NYC auction he was attending. He called immediately after the auction and very excitedly told me we both had won!

I worked at the TM as the librarian for 11 years and still cherish the experience.

Katherine Freshley

With that fulsome prelude, Lydia Fraser began her lecture. (What follows is a virtual version drawing directly on her lecture notes and her illustrating Powerpoint document.  A great deal of it will be in the first person with Lydia speaking.)

Lydia began with this title:




Jenkins (as we shall see again) lived, and had a publishing business in, a small town of 7,000 in western Illinois.  The town was small enough that one could be distinctive on a number of bases.  Jenkins wanted his home and his business to be distinctive and so painted the doors on both of them red,


and this, Lydia said, is the source of her lecture title.


Arthur Darwin Jenkins lived between 1897 – 1988
● He never married.

o A 1983 bio in a local newspaper however, described him as having “considerable charm with the ladies”
o He himself was quoted as describing women both as an “attraction and a distraction”

● He had 1 sister and 2 brothers, none had children and, thus, he had no descendants.

● While we know him as a collector of rug, he also apparently collected glass as well.

● Jenkins joined the Textile Museum Board of Trustees in 1969 and was president from 1979 – 1983


● In addition to being a benefactor and supporter of the library, he was also responsible for the introduction of our museum shop
○ He donated the money needed to purchase the shop’s initial inventory

● In the early 1970s the Textile Museum dedicated its library to Arthur D. Jenkins.

By acclamation the Board passed the following Resolution:

“Be it resolved, that in appreciation of Arthur D. Jenkins’ extensive gifts of book and materials and his continued interest in the library of the Textile Museum, it be dedicated to his honor and designated “The Arthur D. Jenkins Library”.

○ The “extensive gifts of books and materials” encompassed close to 80% of published works on the subject of Oriental rugs at that time.
■ His collection was donated as two large gifts, first in 1963 and again a decade later
○ His “continued interest” referred to here amounted to financial support of the library during a particularly challenging fiscal period for the institution.

While still in his 20s, Jenkins decided he would amass the best, most comprehensive library on rugs in the World.
● It is the opinion of many that he indeed succeeded.
● His collection contained works printed in seven languages. Some of the books dated back to 1770 and include some from limited editions of twenty-five to 100 copies

He described this experience:
“..while hunting for antiques in St. Louis. It was then that my first purchase took place: a small Turkish mat, with warp and wool of horse hair, for $5. since it has always been a habit of mine to buy a book whenever I acquire something, I bought my first book on rugs — a small pamphlet on Chinese weavings. And from then on I would buy a rug and a book, a book and a rug. And so it was in this manner that I developed a large library on oriental carpets.”

● This is the “small pamphlet” he was referring to which is now in the library … small indeed, measures 6.5” X 4.5” but started something from which we are all beneficiaries.


● Jenkins said that his interest in books would at times overtake his interest in rugs …

● When he decided to develop his library, he created an exhaustive bibliography of everything he had and everything ever published on the subject that he carried those with him everywhere.
○ Not only would he take these into books stores with him, but also to various libraries to compare lists.
○ Having the most exhaustive collection seemed quite a motivation for him.
○ He said, “when we combined my library with the one George Hewitt Myers already had, it put The Textile Museum ahead of everyone else.”

Slide5(click this image to get a larger version)

● What you see here is Jenkins’ bibliography of everything ever published … not sure what the marks all mean.

● George Hewitt Myers was the first fellow collector of rugs that Jenkins’ met.

○ As some may know, Myers was also a bibliophile … his particular interest was in the work of Robert Louis Stevenson.
○ So I imagine that those initial conversations between Jenkins and Myers were not only about rugs but also books.

● Jenkins said that his discussions and correspondence with Myers gave him the idea that he “would buy only the finest specimens that would someday be good enough for the Textile Museum to own someday”

o This was also a guiding principle in his book collection, he amassed his collection, knowing one day that it would reside in the library of The Textile Museum.

● It is also important to acknowledge that while Jenkins’ collecting focused solely on literature about rugs, Myers’ book collection reflected his burgeoning textile collection … this is especially true for important work about South American archaeological textiles.

(Myers’ Bookplate)


(Myers Rug Inspiring His Bookplate)

● Jenkins traveled all over the country to search for rug related materials, generally stopping at second-hand bookstores wherever he went.
● He said that the average book seller, if they had anything, would have the rug materials at the very back of his shop on the very lowest shelf gathering dust.

“I’ll never forget the times that I spent in New York on 4th Avenue, down below 10th street. i would go into one bookstore and then the next one, the next and the next because there were so many next to each other — for two or three blocks on both sides. always the same question — do you have any rug books? I would always be shown a few and I would look at them and ask how much. So I had books coming to me after every trip to New York and Chicago and other cities. In the course of time … I finally developed the library I had and then gave it to The Textile Museum.”

● The image is the book plate that Jenkins had made upon the library’s dedication in 1973 … it includes the image of what he claimed to be his favorite rug, a senneh kilim.



Jenkins and Charles Grant Ellis befriended each other in the late 1950’s

Given that, in 1959, Charlie Ellis has just completed a published translation of the 4th edition Wilhelm Bode’s, Antique Rugs from the Near East,


I imagine that their conversations were as much about books and rug publications.

Indeed, the archives of Charlie Ellis attests to this … the note below acknowledges a gift of books given to Ellis from Jenkins (NOTE – real feather)

(click next two images)


– Over time their conversations went from books to rugs, to Textile Museum administration, to simple, and often silly notes, between friends.


As part of Jenkins’ first gift of books in 1963, he donated to the library a copy of the 1st edition, published in 1902 of the Bode book that Ellis later translated in the 4th edition.

● When the book was first published in 1902 it was considered the first comprehensive treatise on classical rugs. It was later released in subsequent editions. It certainly would have been a “must-have” in any collector’s library.
● This title demonstrates an important characteristic of Jenkins book collecting – while comprehensive and exhaustive collecting was a guiding principle for him, it appears he also seemed to consider the holdings of The Textile Museum and moved to fill in holes, seldom replicating a book that Myers had already acquired. Especially for the most rare and valuable material .
● Jenkins donated the 1st and 4th edition in English of this book, and Myer’s had the 3rd edition in English, published in 1922 and the 4th edition in German, published in 1955.


The catalog to the watershed exhibition held in Munich in 1910, Masterworks of Muhammedan Art … it was the first treatment of Islamic art as art in its own rite and not trinkets of orientalism.

The catalog was not published until 1912, well after the exhibition had closed. While the publication did not receive the same scholarly acclaim of the exhibition, it represented as one author said, “A luxurious product in terms of economic value , and old fashioned weighty tomes of publication techniques.”

350 of the 430 copies that were printed were already subscribed to prior to delivery in March 1912. The Textile Museum holds 2 copies of this work, 1 from Jenkins and 1 from Myers … Jenkins’ copy is number 41 as seen here. However, Myers’ copy is not numbered … perhaps is one of the 30 that were “not intended for the trade” (nicht fur den handel bestimmt)


Jenkins also gave the library a copy of Julius Lessing’s “Ancient Oriental Carpet Patterns” considered by many to be the first published work on rugs. Myer’s already had Lessing’s subsequent works.

Interestingly, Jenkins to did not donate F.R. Martin’s “The History of the Oriental Rug before 1800”. Published in 1908 …


Myers already had a copy of this. It is another important “must have,” in early rug literature, and it is left of up to speculation whether or not for Jenkins it remained “one that got away” or was never pursued knowing that it was already a part of the TM library.

Thus far we have touched on the obvious candidates for a rug library in the early part the 20th century.

Though not easy to find and often expensive and of limited publication run, these publications were well-known and sought after. I have every reason to believe that if Jenkins had his sights on something he would have found a way to acquire it.

We now turn to another aspect of Jenkins’ collecting which is comprehensiveness … for this we look at the works of John Kimberly Mumford.


Regarded less as a scholar than his contemporaries, Lessing, Bode, and Martin, he was if anything more prolific than most on the topic. Mumford was an Englishman who traveled throughout Turkey and Iran and wrote about rugs for the layman. He published this book, “Oriental Carpets” in 1900 … we have the 1902 edition donated by Jenkins in 1963.

In addition to his book, Mumford wrote for several articles in popular literature … Jenkins some how managed to track down many of these publications which are now a part of our vertical file collection ,

These include articles such as “making hay in the rug business” which appeared in Arts and Decoration in February 1920 and “The Passing of the Antique Rug” in the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine published in January 1910.

Keeping in mind that this was long before ebay and amazon, it boggles my mind to think of how he managed to track down such material and in such quantities. Our vertical files are filled with many such articles.



Jenkins collected anything written on rugs … scholarly, popular, or somewhere in between. We have several issues of the decorating magazine, “House Beautiful,” from the early part of the 20th century, as well as material like this short article that appeared in Harper’s Bazar’s 1903 thanksgiving issue.



To repeat a conversation told above, Russ Pickering, may remember, Jenkins saying, “I’ll never forget the times that I spent in New York on 4th Avenue, down below 10th street. i would go into one bookstore and then the next one, the next and the next because there were so many next to each other — for two or three blocks on both sides. always the same question — do you have any rug books? I would always be shown a few and I would look at them and ask how much. So I had books coming to me after every trip to New York and Chicago and other cities.”

● One of the more obscure publications was a basic information article simply titled “Fine Rugs” that was published in “Overland Monthly” in July, 1900



● Overland Monthly was a San Francisco-based literary monthly .. I am uncertain of the range of distribution however, given that Jenkins was collecting it well over 20 years following publication, I suspect it was not an easy or common find.
Jenkins also collected contemporary publications … the introductory books by dealers and collectors were popular and Jenkins collected as many as he could find.


. Here we have the 1949 self-published book by Armenian-born, french rug restoration expert. Alber Achdjian.

Jenkins Continued to collect rug literature after the initial donation in 1963, though perhaps without the same fervor, given that most of the early, rarer material had already been obtained.
o He would, on occasion, purchase a duplicate copy of something should the original be in poor shape.
● Here is the 1884 publication by Herbert Coxon, a British rug importer, said to be the earliest book on rugs to appear in English.



Jenkins said that when he was learning about and researching a new rug, he would take all of his books and spread them about the floor and furniture. In this way he was able to compile a most impressive index of citations for his rugs organized by area and rug types.

A most impressive task, possibly facilitated only by access to a most comprehensive collection of literature.

● Everything we have explored thus far points to a cosmopolitan man crisscrossing the country, searching all the relevant stores of major cities for books and rugs, rugs and books.
● To underscore this, he was featured in Fortune magazine in 1968 and was recognized in 1974 by the Hajji Babba society as collector of the year.
● There were however, many other dimensions to Arthur D. Jenkins for which he was equally well-known in other communities.
● And, as we noted at the beginning, Jenkins was known as “the man behind the red doors” .. he received this moniker for the fact that he had red doors on both his home and business.
● such a name however can only be meaningful if you live in the kind of community where door color can be a distinguishing feature.

● This community was a small town in Illinois called Mascoutah, population 7483!




● He moved there in the 1930s and lived there until his death in 1988.
● He immersed himself deeply within the community:
○ he served as chairman of the Planning Commission helping to develop their city-manager style of government
○ worked on several municipal improvement projects
○ involved heavily in the local schools
○ served on the board of the local library
● In fact, upon his death, he requested memorial donations be directly to either the ADJL or the Mascoutah public library
● When Jenkins passed, the mayor of Mascoutah stated that “like everyone, he had some critics, but he did a lot of good for Mascoutah” … he also added that Jenkins was “a bit of an individualist.”

Jenkins moved to Mascoutah to purchase and operate the town’s weekly newspaper which he ran from 1934 to 1971.
He also owned an operated another local weekly publication, the New Baden news.

● This appears to have been a family tradition.
○ His father established 2 or 3 weeklies in Michigan
○ his grandfather founded the Iowa evening Statesman in Des Moines in 1868.


Jenkins most lucrative business turned out to be legal sales and office management forms for the mobile home industry.
● He copyrighted over 100 forms of which he sold millions each year to close to 7000 mobile home dealers.

● Jenkins was also an attorney and put this experience to good use in the publication and an industry newsletter which highlighted legal issues.

○ In 1974, Jenkins was selected honorary governor of the National Mobile home dealers association

○ Among his colleagues in this community, Jenkins’ phone was coined, “the nerve center of the mobile home industry”.

● in the many biographies and memoria that were written about Jenkins, it was not uncommon to see him referred to as a Renaissance man .. himself being a writer, publisher, civic leader and art collector

● Apparently throughout his life , he kept folders and folders of clipped newspapers and magazines that contained poems or sayings which he found inspirational
● Jenkins eventually picked the “best of the best” of these tid-bits and self-published a small collection called the Silver Creek scrap book …


Silver Creek being the a stream that runs close by Mascoutah.
● This was followed by a similar publication of cooking recipes since Jenkins felt that most mid-western food was sorely lacking in flavor.


● When asked about his favorite passage in the scrap book, he cited a poem by Richard Cardinal Cushing, called “Slow Me Down Lord!
● It begins, “Slow me down lord … ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind … steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.”
● Jenkins followed this by saying, “sometimes its hard to slow down, I have so much to do”

● This may seem a bit random, but above is a photo of a printing press once belonging to Jenkins and sent to me (Lydia) by the Historical Society of Mascoutah
● In preparing for this morning’s talk, I contacted the Mascoutah Library, as well as their historical society.
● To my surprise, I learned that the historical society is now housed in the Jenkins publishing building we saw earlier with the red doors. In it is this printing press as well as a small exhibition devoted solely to Arthur D. Jenkins.
● I believe to say that Jenkins was a beloved figure in the community would not be an overstatement.
● Marilyn Welch, president of the historical society, told me that everyone of a certain age has a memory or story to tell about Jenkins.
○ her story :
● There was also a favorite tale in town that was often repeated about the time Jenkins decided to spray perfume on each newspaper one week. Apparently he went to the drug store, bought some perfume and stood by the press and squirted each one as it came off.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know better such an interesting and multi-faceted character! I am envious of those who knew him personally.

I sincerely hope that Arthur D Jenkins would be pleased with the new directions that both the museum and library have taken. We continue to honor Jenkins legacy of providing a comprehensive collection of materials for the study of rugs and textiles.


While we continue to unpack and organize in our new location on Foggy Bottom, we look so forward to the opportunity to welcome patrons to our new space. We hope to do this by appointment early in the new year.”

This was the end of Lydia’s lecture, but the program went on a bit.

Jenkins was in the publishing business and it’s not clear to me how much he published on oriental rugs and other textiles (Lydia has referred to some pieces above), but two items are fairly visible.

In 1963, Jenkins and McCoy Jones seem to have curated a Textile Museum exhibition that drew on rugs and other textiles from both their collections.


There were 109 pieces in this exhibition, about evenly divided between Jenkins’ collection and Jones’.  There are a few black and white images of pieces.

The introduction in this catalog talks about about Jenkins’ donation of his his textile library to The Textile Museum, and both Jenkins and Jones pledge to donate their collections to the TM.

A much more substantial publication is Jenkins’ “The Arthur D. Jenkins Collection, Volume I, Flat-Woven Textile,”  published in 1981.  This catalog is a handsome over-size hardback volume,


that presents 67 flat-woven items, many in full color.  Carolyn Cootner curated this exhibition and recruited some folks to share (in a Part II) the results of some early efforts to study textile structures.  Two early John Wertime articles of this sorted are included.

Since Jenkins was a publisher, it seems that he commanded the order of quality that was possible at an affordable price in 1981.  The color in this flat-weave volume seems to me to be superior to that in the “Turkman” catalog published in 1980 by the TM.  This seems to me to be a beautifully produced book for its time.

Wendel Swan,



also knew Jenkins and spoke next.

He said Jenkins is well-known for the flat-woven textiles in his collection, but that he collected pile pieces too.


and it could be argued that his Turkmen pile pieces were the strength of his collection.  A number of these appeared in the 1980 catalog “Turkmen”


edited by Louise Mackie and Jon Thompson and Jenkins, then the president of the TM board, wrote the Forward for this exhibition catalog.

Wendel presented some of these Turkman pieces in Jenkins’ collection.


(click for larger image)

Thompson calls this piece “Salor weaving at its most magnificent.”  This is a very large trapping.  It is 94 inches wide.  Its three gul-forms are heavily decorated with pink silk.  I have had it in my hands twice and it is easily the most magnificent Turkmen piece I have ever seen.

The piece below is a luscious Salor fragment, seeming from a chuval.  Again there is an extravagant use of silk in the gul centers.  Jenkins says somewhere that one reasons that he bought Turkman weaving is that they were more affordable than other varieties.  He must have been thinking of classical carpets from the 16th to the 18th centuries that were still, when he started to collect, sometimes within financial reach for someone like Jenkins.  So even glorious Turkmen pieces might then have then, often been relative bargains.


The next piece is another Jenkins Salor, this time a compartmented design.  Again, there are silk details.


Yet another compartmented Salor weaving.  Stars in the compartments. Thompson said in 1980 that this was, then, the only Salor piece known with this design.


 A spectacular Salor asmalyk of the rare “bird” design.  Jenkins’ birds are “sitting;” in some related pieces they are “running.”


Jenkins also had some wonderful Tekke material.  Below is Tekke chuval face with heavy silk decoration.  Note the second “elem,” above the top border.


The next piece is an ever more impressive Tekke chuval with drawing that places three full-guls within the borders.  Thompson calls the visual effect of this piece “outstanding.”


The image below presents two more Jenkins Turkman bag faces.  In 1980 both were called “Ersari,” but nowadays they would be described as “Middle Amu Darya.”

In 1980, Loges felt that weavings like the upper one of the two below, with their spaciousness and stacked gul placement were likely “Kizil Ayak,” and recent students of Middle Amu Darya sub-groups seem to agree.  This chuval face is 50 inches wide.  This image is one to click in order to seen the wide range of color in it.


The lower piece, of the two above, is also very large, at over 57 inches.  It is a familiar “mina khani” design that the Turkmen adopted from the Persians.  The border on this piece is also the one typically used with this field.  Thompson says that “it’s attraction lies in its superb wool and strong colors enlivened with touches of magenta silk.”  I own a fragment that is an approximate quarter of this piece, and it is among the best I have.

The next piece is a stunning example of a “Beshir” niche rug (now more commonly also designated as “Middle Amu Darya“).  Thompson calls it a “true prayer rug.”  Rugs of this type are seen as likely urban, commercial production, but are nevertheless one of the most sought after Turkman types.  The range of color and color contrast are noteworthy, as is the skillful use of a brighter blue.  There are many elements, motifs and patterns in this rug, but one does not experience it as too “busy” because of the effective use of different scales for different design elements especially the ivory background.


The next piece is another Middle Amu Darya rug that Jenkins must have especially prized.


It is the leading piece of only seven that he had actual images of included in the 1963 catalog of the exhibition he curated with McCoy Jones.

It is also the piece at his feet in the photo of him that we saw earlier of him at home.


Thompson praised its “superb colors and wool quality,” but also calls it, “an incompetent version of the herati pattern.”  Jenkins seemed to have disagreed.

The next Jenkins Turkmen piece was this Yomut group chuval face.


Thompson noted the spacious drawing of this piece and linked features of the drawing of its guls with those on the “archetypal gul” of the famous TM Yomut main carpet.

The piece below is an Yomut instance of the familiar “bokche” pouch.  Thompson estimates it to the mid-19th century.  The reverse side of this one-piece pile weaving is not shown, but the use of white in it seems effective.


The next piece was a Yomut-group engsi (door rug).  Thompson was not taken with this piece, but calls attention to the small designs, each composed of three triangles, that project into the field “on either side of the mid-line.”  He says this feature is “unexplained” and its decoding “may help reveal the true meaning and origin of the Engsi design.”


We have mentioned Jenkins’ volume on the flat-woven pieces in his collection, and Wendel shared images of some of those as well.

This is a colorful Persian saddle cover.  Jenkins calls attention to these colors and fact that this piece is signed, probably reading “Allah is Prophet,” and with a date 1295, which is 1878-79.




The piece below is a incomplete Senneh horse cover (it is missing the front tabs that would go around the chest of the horse).  Jenkins says that “the offset arrangement of the the individual pattern units – two opposed botehs on a flowering tree – is such that the dark blue ground color which is exposed around this unit forms a subtle lozenge grid enclosing each unit.  This can best be seen from a distance.”


The next piece is a Senneh kilim with an open field, herati spandrels, and an anchored medallion filled with the same herati pattern.  Jenkins called it “handsome” and its overall design has strong graphic impact.


This is another Senneh kilim with vertical stripes containing meanders. Jenkins admired its colors and the precision of its drawing.  He says that the weave is exceptionally fine.


The next piece is a Qashqa’i horsecover.  Jenkins liked its colors and said this design is done in five different weaves and that its design devices include “animals within animals.”  He notes that while the cover is woven in one piece, the animals change the way they face along a center vertical line.  The cover includes an attractive green.


The kilim below features bright colors and considerable graphic punch, despite the fact that many of its devices are of similar small scales.  The attribution is Lori or Qashqa’i, whose works were particularly popular among collectors during the 1970’s.


The next piece is a 20th century Veramin cover.  Veramin is an area with lots of ethnic groups (even some Tekke Turkman sometimes) and a rich intermingling of design influences.  Jenkins says that he saw Kurdish features in this piece and that the animals in it are similar to those of the Shahsavan.  He also says that these squarish covers were used as soufrehs (eating cloths) and “ru-kursi” (charcoal brazier covers).  The zigzag borders at the edges of the field are seen in Kurdish and Afshar sourfrehs from Khurasan.  The greenish shades are distinctive.


This is a complete Moghan Shahsavan horse cover.  Jenkins says this piece projects a “regal splendor.”  He says that “Alterations in the scale and proportion of the motifs and directional arrangement of of the animate figures produce marvelous results.”


Here is a closer look at one detail.


Jenkins cites the wonderful color and says that some of the silk ornamentation is wrapped in metal.

The kilim below was attributed by Jenkins to either the Caucasus or to Northwest Persia, although today it would be referred to as Shirvan.  He notes that the vertically-stepped design is driven by the limitations of its predominant slit tapestry weave.  He does not mention its wonderful color.


The piece below is described by Jenkins as having an Caucasian-Azerbajani style.  I think there would now be less hesitation about suggesting Shirvan.  It has very good graphics.  Again, Jenkins does not mention its colors.


Jenkins said that the coloring and and implied niche format suggest that this piece was woven in the Caucasus.  Today we know that the use of this zili technique for prayer format rugs is rather rare.  The use of cochineal, boteh motifs and “prayer” formats were popular. He describes the use of color as “random,” but does not say much about the borders, which relate to flatweaves from Turkey.


The next kilim is the first of the Anatolian pieces in Jenkins collection.   The weave is cicim and he places it in eastern Anatolia.  He notes the “rhythmic” use of light and dark squares impacts our experience with this pattern.


Jenkins says that the Anatolian cicim piece below was woven south of Adana.  He remarks on its “numerous and random” and “fanfare” of strong colors.  He says that the “hooked verticals in interlocking diamonds” is seen as an Anatolian Turkman usage.  Notice that the smaller scaled border does not frame the larger devices of the field, but seem to dwindle away a bit, without aesthetic harm.  For me, this smaller piece is the “star” of the flat-woven side of Jenkins collection.


Jenkins say the piece below is an “outstanding” kilim from the Malatya-Sivas area.  He praises its use of pale yellow, orange and deep purple and notes that some features of color use and patterning, in this piece (in particular the white-bounded squares) work to produce a three-dimensional effect.


The last piece Wendel showed from Jenkins collection was the one immediately below.  This piece appeared in black and white in the “Bosporus to Samarkand” catalog.  There, it was was thought, perhaps, to be Balkan.  It is about 4′ x 6′ and woven in two pieces in a double-interlocked weave.

Wendel, who collects and has studied Scandinavian textiles, said that this Jenkins piece would today be recognized as a Swedish weaving.  He produced an image of a nearly identical piece in color (the second piece below).

Here are large versions of these two pieces arrayed vertically so that you can examine them more closely.

Bosporus to Samarkand Example



With this comparison this RTAM program on Arthur Jenkins, the TM Library, and beyond, came to an end.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at a significant aspect of TM history, and at Arthur Jenkins, a figure in it important to remember.


R. John Howe

Woven Coverlets, Quilts and Hooked Rugs, Part 1, The Lecture

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2015 by rjohn

On February 7, 2015, Amy Rispin


Amy2 and John Howe,



gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program on


Closer images of textiles in title slide.


Woven Coverlets,




and Hooked Rugs.



Tom Goehner,


the Textile Museum’s Curator Education, did the introductions.

He said that John has been a collector and student of textiles since the mid-1980s and is active in the local textile community. He started as a Turkman textile collector, but has gradually become increasingly eclectic.

He is a member of the TM Advisory Council, and, since later 2007, has written two textile blogs, one of which, Textiles and Text, is devoted exclusively to providing these Rug and Textile Appreciation programs with the larger audience they often deserve. (There are currently 103 posts in the Textiles and Text site archives that you can access at your leisure.)

John is a champion of the RTAM programs and believes they are one of the important outreach programs the TM offers.

He claims no particular expertise or authority, saying that he is better described as very interested in – perhaps too interested in – textiles. He tries to get things right, but would never claim to have done so.

John is retired, but was for over 40 years an instructional designer in business, university and government organizations.

Amy Rispin is a docent at the Textile Museum and a textile and rug collector with eclectic tastes.

In the course of the last 20 years, she been collecting quilts to brighten up her beach house in Southern Maryland and has made the acquaintance of some of the Amish in St. Mary’s County, including Ms. Magdalena Stoltzfus, from whom she commissioned a quilt.

Amy has drawn on the collections of collector Marsha Swiss and local quilter, Floris Flamm, who are in the room.

Amy holds a doctorate in bio-physics and is retired from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

John began:

The first thing I need to do is to call attention to the word “varieties” in our title for this session.


“Varieties” signals that Amy and I are going to treat aspects of these three textile groups.

We will, together be looking a bit at “Coverlets, Quilts and Hooked Rugs” three textile types that have been prominent in U.S. textile history.

They are also textiles that you can rather frequently encounter today, at prices that are, mostly, within the reach of even of those of us who collect on a budget.

I am not expert with regard to any of these three textile types, but they are among those that interest me. And I own a few of each.

What follows in my treatment of coverlets, and then later of hooked rugs, is a kind of introduction, more useful to you if you don’t know much about them.

Amy Rispin will treat the quilt part of this session. Her treatment will move in another direction. She and I will pass things back and forth.

Let’s start with coverlets.



(click on image)


Coverlets have been woven for a long time. An English will in 1465, noted “a coverlyte of whyte.”

The term “coverlet” and its variations are rooted in French. The words “courve” (cover) and “lit” (bed) occur as far back as 1301 and are straightforward.

As a general term “coverlet” referred to any “top, outer covering of the bedstead,” but it has come to mean

a woven, patterned bed covering, woven in one of four, particular structures.

the “overshot” structure,


the “double-weave,”


(The “doubleweave,” the “summer-winter” weave and the “beiderwand” structures all have a dark side and a light one.  The image above is of the dark side of a “doubleweave.”  Here, below, is the light side of the “doubleweave.”)


and the “summer-winter” weave.


Some sources talk about another coverlet structure:


This latter is a double woven structure with two layers of plain-woven cloth joined only at the edges of the pattern. It has a dark and a light side and a ribbed appearance.  There are two varieties of it: the “tied” and the “true.”

Coverlets may seem, potentially, at least, conceptually, previous to quilts since some quilts used a coverlet for the top layer. Adding layers, and then quilting them turns a coverlet into a warmer cover.

Coverlets begin to appear in colonial North America in the early 18th century. The weaving of U.S. coverlets seems to have started in New England and moved south and west with settlement.

Melinda and Laszlo Zongor, who head the National Museum for the American Coverlet in Bedford, Pa. report that the oldest known overshot coverlet to be dated in the weave is this one.

WC8(click image)

Most coverlets are woven in two pieces and then sewn together, usually, so that the patterns in them match.

This is such a coverlet with an unusually visible seam seen from the back.


Some coverlets could be woven on the family loom.

but itinerant weavers sprang up about 1830, by which time steam looms in Europe had made hand-weaving, and hand weavers, largely redundant. Many came to America.

These were skilled weavers who carried their own looms.

About this same time, Jacquard looms also became available.

WC11left(click image)

Jacquard looms had a punched card component that performed the functions of a “draw loom” but with only one weaver (a draw loom required two weavers). Jacquard looms also appeared in the U.S. in about 1830 and made it possible to weave more complex weaves and patterns.

Jacquard looms increased greatly the number of “pixels,” so to speak, available for a coverlet design. An itinerant weaver could buy and use a Jacquard attachment to his loom.

The punched card system used in the Jacquard loom was an important step in computer hardware


We know more about most coverlets than we often do about other textiles we collect.

We often know precisely what a coverlet’s structure and design are, and how to produce them. There seem, from early times, systems of notation, indicating how to weave a particular coverlet design.

WC13(click image)

These written guides are called “drafts.” One coverlet design is recorded in a weaver’s draft book dated from 1723.

There are a myriad of coverlet patterns. The literature seems most broadly to divide the universe coverlet patterns into those that are “geometric”

and those that are “figured.”


Geometric patterns


could usually be woven on a home loom.  Home looms tended to have up to four shafts (four different sets of warps).  A loom with four or fewer shafts did not require much strength to operate.

So many geometric coverlets were woven by women.

Most geometric patterned coverlets were woven in the overshot structure. A remarkable number of geometric designs were made on home looms, but none that treated realistic “buildings, flowers and animals.”

“Figured coverlets

WC15were woven by professionals, usually men…”

They usually had, or could resort to, a Jacquard loom that could, readily, weave the double weave, summer and winter weave, and the Biederwand weave.

And as we said above, there were a great number of patterns to pick from. Most professional weavers had pattern books from which their customers picked.

Weaver Rose in Rhode Island (who lived to be nearly 100) collected coverlet patterns and wove 300 of them himself.

Coverlet patterns have names, they vary widely and often different names were, and are, assigned to the same pattern. The names are often colorful.

Here is one two-page listing.


Pattern names do seem to be treated seriously by contemporary coverlet weavers. They often use them talking to each other.

Coverlet patterns travel, are adapted, given new names, and you can see, as is often the case with oriental pile rugs, pattern alone is not usually a basis for attribution.

Some students study how coverlet patterns have developed. They construct taxonomies of those that seem similar and propose developmental sequences. Such “development” surely happened but, for me, most of these efforts are speculative, even when plausible in appearance.

Coverlets are often inscribed, indicating, who wove a given one, the date and place of its weaving, and/or the person(s) for whom it was woven.

coverlet_american_heilbronn_LacasterSignatureBlockYou’ve seen some of these.

WC2LowerCenter(click image)



Coverlet inscriptions may, in part, be frequent because they were a form of advertising for professional weavers. This may also be why inscribed overshot coverlets (which would tend to have been woven by a home weaver) are rare.

I have found an occasional signature block with a woman’s name.


We cannot attribute an unsigned coverlet to a particular part of the country on the basis of pattern. Both people and the drafts moved widely and rapidly.

Experienced coverlet folks, though, can sometimes reliably recognize a particular coverlet weaver’s work.


The coverlet above is unsigned,but attributed to Henry Stager, and is thought to have been woven in about 1850 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Some writers indicate what ethnic backgrounds American coverlet weavers had. And where they were located. One effort of this kind was by Pauline Montgomery, who studied professional coverlet weavers in Indiana closely.

Here are two pages she presents from the 1850 census that indicates each Indiana weaver’s residence and birthplace (only some of these weavers wove coverlets).

WC19(click images)

Birth place and residence give us an idea of the relationship of ethnic background to weaver location then in Indiana.

WC20You can see that a remarkable number of these Indiana weavers were born abroad.

And here is a map indicating how professional coverlet weavers in Indiana were distributed over the state.

WC21For some reason there seem not to have been any coverlet weavers in the southwest corner of the state.

Now let’s look at some different coverlet patterns.


This is a jacquard coverlet woven by Edna Jane Howell on Long Island, N.Y. in 1838..

Detail of the piece above.

The piece below is a corner detail of a figured, doubleweave (done on a Jacquard loom) woven in Indiana by Samuel Balantyne.  Balantyne was a famous Indiana coverlet weaver.


The coverlet below has a Beiderwand structure and was woven by Andrew Dump in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania in 1849.

WC24(click on image)

The piece below is described as a “four-block overshot antique coverlet” without further attribution information.


I’ve retained it because I think it is so striking.

Notice that “Escher-like,” seemingly, curvilinear effects can be achieved in coverlet design that contains only rectilinear devices.


The trick is to vary, slightly, the height, width or placement of rectilinear devices next to one another.

The coverlet below is signed and was woven in Pennsylvania in 1840.


Below is another Pennsylvania coverlet, this time woven by S. Kurter in Trexler Town, Lehigh County again in 1840.


Detail of the coverlet above.

Below is an Ohio coverlet woven in 1854.


Closer look at the signature block on the darker side of the coverlet above.


One sees coverlets with dates in the 1840s and the 1850s so frequently that one begins to wonder.

But Melinda Zongor, the Director/Curator of The National Museum of the American Coverlet in nearby Bedford, Pa., says that there is nothing suspicious about this because the 1840s and 1850s were the acme of American coverlet production.

About the time of the Civil War, coverlet weaving fell off sharply and, despite there being lots of weavers about, it has never returned to its heyday.

There were, however, still some coverlet weavers who learned their skills in the 1840s, and who were still weaving in the 1870s.

Below is an accomplished, jacquard-produced, doubleweave example, woven by Absalom Klinger in 1871 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

WC30(click image)

Klinger learned to weave in the 1840s but as his signature block in the detail below indicates, he was still at it in 1871, although his example is infrequent.

There was also a brief flurry of coverlet weaving for the Centennial in 1876.

WC31(click image)

There are still some active coverlet weavers, and two are on the board of the Coverlet Museum.

And while working on this session, I made the acquaintance of Beth Wilson, a weaver and teacher of weaving, in nearby Virginia, who collects coverlets and weaves some of the structures used to weave them.


The overshot detail above is from her web site.

One wonders why U.S. coverlet weaving fell off so precipitously after the Civil War and the general answer seems to be that it was part of the rapid spread of industrialization. The itinerant weavers who came to the U.S. in the 1830s had already been displaced by power looms in the U.K. and in Europe.

Industrialization spread rapidly and extensively in the U.S. in the last third of the 19th century.



It became easier and much cheaper to buy machine-made blankets than it was to weave a traditional coverlet or to have one woven.

Even in more remote areas,



the itinerant weaver was replaced by the “Yankee peddler” who offered cuttings from bolts of machine-made cloth.


 (Amy will talk about one instance of this that affected Amish quilting.)

Many traditional coverlet weavers worked in family groups.

One coverlet weaver father taught his five sons and they, subsequently, formed a small company to weave coverlets.

Something like this may still, occasionally, be going on.

Nowadays most coverlet weaving is done by individual weavers, but there is, or at least was, in 1993, a small company, in Red Lion, Pa., weaving traditional coverlets in traditional designs and in, apparently, traditional ways.



That is the end of my little introduction to woven coverlets.

Amy Rispin moved to treat quilts.

Quilt 20a Howe Rispin


Three Varieties of Quilts

which Evolved in Culturally Uniform Groups


Quilts are generally made in three pieces: quilt top, batting, quilt back.

(in the image below, the checkered, with purple border is the top; the white area underneath that is the batting; and the dark area outside that is the back)


The “sandwich” is stitched together, with quilting stitches close enough together to keep the batting from shifting during use.


The quilt top carries the design of the quilt and can be:

  • pieced using squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons and in some cases, curves (flower basket handles)



  • applique, a technique which is most suitable for pictorial designs such as flowers.



Colonial quilt patterns evolved regionally and were inspired bywhat people knew in their everyday lives, for example:

  • the bible: Jacob’s Ladder, Star of Bethlehem, Joseph’s Coat
  • trades: Mariner’s Compass, the Spinner, Ship’s Wheel
  • nature: Flying Geese, Flower Garden, Savannah Star
  • buildings: Log Cabin, Schoolhouse
  • love and courtship: Double Wedding Ring
  • household images: Dresden Plate, Flower Basket

We’ll see some of these patterns when we display quilts later.



In 1689, after the thirty years war in the Palatinate (ed. district) of Southern Germany, Germans began to immigrate to America, where they settled in Pennsylvania.

Many early German immigrants later moved to Baltimore, Frederick and Washington counties nearby in Maryland, where the farmland was similar to that in Pennsylvania.

They brought with them a tradition of folk designs.

Q40The quilt, above, from Baltimore in 1783, shows a variant of the fylflot design, which is painted on the clock case.

“Frakturs” were also a source of quilt designs in the Pennsylvania Dutch/German communities.  Frakturs were embellished birth and marriage records, drawn in ink and colored with watercolor.


Their designs were characterized by symmetry, with birds, hearts, tulips, and flower baskets. They were often bordered by scallops or vine-shaped borders.

Here are images of additional frakturs.


(John Howe: Notice that the drawing of some of the flower forms in the image above are similar to that of some that appear on Ottoman textiles.)

Q43Note the scroll-shaped appearance of the leaves in the franktur below.


The 1782, ink and watercolor, birth certificate (image below) from Washington County gives the name of the child, Magdalena Schmitt, framed in a heart. This fraktur, like many, was in tones of green and red, a favorite color scheme among people of German extraction in the area. (Fading or poor reproduction limit our perception of color here.)

The Baltimore album quilt (below), from 1850, echoes the style and images which we have seen in some frakturs, with an emphasis on use of red and green in the border and squares. The quilt is made of cotton, silk and wool. The technique used is applique.

Q46The Flower of Paradise quilt square, below, from Washington County, Maryland, is in tones of red and green.  It is dated 1858-1878

Q47Below are some additional early Pennsylvania quilts showing typical flower or vegetal designs, emphasizing red and green. (In some cases, the green fabric has faded).






The Amish movement originated after the Reformation in the Palatinate (Southern Germany), Alsace, and the Switzerland, where the followers of Jacob Amman were persecuted for their beliefs.

They appear to have immigrated between the 1720’s and 1760’s and were part of the Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Their way of life was and still is communal and disciplined.

Because of persecution the Amish did not build churches in Europe, but worshiped in secret in homes within their communities. The practice of worship in homes within each Amish community continues in this country.   Each house has a family bible and an Ausband or hymnal.


The leather covers of such treasured books were embossed and sometimes studded with brass.  This leather-bound book from Ireland  is similar in style to Amish family books.  It was published in 1840.

For many years after their arrival in America, the Amish used typically German bedding in their homes:

  • feather beds,
  • coverlets in simple designs, and
  • homespun woolen blankets.

By 1880, Amish bedding shifted away from these traditional types to quilts.  Although they had not made quilts previously, Amish women appear to have learned quilting from their “English” neighbors.

Note: The Amish speak a species of German and refer to people outside the Amish community as “the English.”

They produced homespun textiles for their own use until the Civil War. Industrialization after the Civil War made textiles in wool and cotton available for home use – later rayon and other synthetic materials.  In the 1850’s, commercial sewing machines became available and they were embraced by the Amish for use in making the family clothing.

The first Amish quilts were made after the 1860’s from single pieces of commercial woolen fabric.

Here is an image of a simple blue and orange medallion quilt made of commercial woolen cloth in 1875 in Lancaster County.


Notice how closely the design on the quilt below resembles that on the cover the Amish family bible, Ausband or hymnal, shown above.


From about 1880, Lancaster quilt tops were pieced by machine. The earliest Amish pieced quilts were very simple.

Quilting stitchery was always done by hand and included geometric patterns such as diamonds and lines. In addition, they used designs based on frakturs and other Pennsylvania Dutch folk art including hearts, stars and flyflots and were often bordered with feathered wreaths and vines.

In the 1920’s wool quilt below, the Diamond in the Square pattern is a medallion style format, characteristic of Lancaster County.


As noted above, hymnals and bibles printed in the 17th, 18th or nineteenth century were bound in printed leather with bass ornamentation placed to protect the binding. The shapes of embossing and brass ornamentation on these books was often echoed in the simple medallion patterns seen in classical Lancaster quilts. (R. Bishop and E. Sofands)

Toward the end of the 19th century, Amish quilt tops were dominated by geometric pieced patterns. The quilt below has a Triple Irish Chain pattern.  Made in Lancaster County 1915-1925.  Wool.



If we look closely at the images of these classic Amish quilts in their sober colors and geometric patterns, we see elaborately conceived and developed stitchery motifs.  Note the the elaborate flower basket quilt stitchery in the lower border of this “bars” quilts from Lancater County, ( 1900-1925)

Amish quilts for home use, today, are made from the typical fabrics used for making their clothing, such as cottons and polyester-cotton blends in plain colors.

Amish drygoods shops now stock plastic quilt stitchery templates in traditional Pennsylvania Dutch motifs.

Their quilts for home use today use synthetic batting, and are made from the typical……in plain colors.
However, for sale to the “English”, Amish shops now stock printed cotton.

They might introduce pattern in the quilt top using colorful embroidery. For quilt stitching, plastic templates in traditional Pennsylvania Dutch motifs are often used.




Before their contact with Western culture, Hawaiian women made tapa or bark cloth for clothing, bedding and ceremonial uses.

After Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook in 1778, Western cloth became available and gradually replaced the use of tapa.


Missionaries’ wives introduced sewing in about 1820. They also showed the Hawaiian ladies how to use leftover fabric scraps to make patchwork quilts.

Many patchwork and applique quilts were made in the design of the nineteenth century Hawaiian flag.


The quilt below is cotton, machine pieced, with applique, late nineteenth century.

Q60Quilting styles were those taught by the missionaries’ wives: parallel, circular, or diagonal lines.


In the 19th century quilt above, quilting is in parallel lines, with some contour quilting around the coat of arms.


Ultimately the Hawaiian quilt technique evolved.  Hawaii ladies had worked with tapa and the methods associated with that kind of medium and textile.

Stella Jones, a quilt historian, has written:

“To cut new materials into bits to be sewn together (for a patchwork quilt) seemed a futile waste of time. It was quite natural, therefore, that these women, accustomed each to design on her tapa beater and her own individual woodblocked patterns, should produce patterns of their own.

Here’s how Hawaiian quilters made their quilts:

As shown in this floral quilt from 1900, a single brightly colored fabric was folded into quarters and the design cut through all of the layers.

The cutout design was unfolded and basted from the center outward to a plain white cotton topsheet – and then appliqued to it. After the quilt “sandwich was laid out, the three layers were stitched together from the center, working outward. Quilting frames were set close to the ground so that quilters could sit on mats.


Eventually, Hawaiian ladies evolved their own stitchery patterns. “Echo quilting” consisted of successive rows of stitches, which paralleled the edges of the appliqued design, resembling ocean waves, and giving the quilts a three-dimensional quality.  The narrow range of colors in each quilt may come from the tapa tradition in Hawaii.


This distinctive type of quilting continues today.


You’ve read about and seen three snapshots of three varieties of quilting.

By the end of the 19th century, American quilts reflect a national rather than regional style, due to population movement Westward as well as publication of quilt patterns in magazines with national circulation.

The world of quilting is robust, even burgeoning in a great many directions.  There are relatively humble, but accessible “kit” quilts, there are quilt “challenges” that stimulate creativity. and the world of “art” quilts seems to have no end.  Today’s quilters and quilt collectors are in a position much like that of Alice in the illustration below.

(click image)



Hooked Rugs

HR66John continued with hooked rugs.


 You can readily find a number of stories about the origin of hooked rugs, but an obvious fact should make you cautious about some of them. It is that the hooking involved “is a form of folk art that almost anyone can carry out.”

The simplicity of pulling a strand of fiber through a fiber background suggests that hooked rugs likely have deep roots.


We have the far more complex pile rugs that were woven 500 years before Christ.

How could crafts people of that time and earlier not notice this simple structure and method and have found it an easy one to use?

But this is not just a matter of concepts and logic, there is evidence that Copts employed the hooked-technique.

A sixth century Coptic example of a hooked textile is part of the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And there is even a Met, Coptic candidate with looped weft pile from the 3rd or 4th century.

This should put to rest claims that the hooked rug originated either in America or Great Britain, but it is likely that it came to us from the British Isles.

Although it is plausible that early American settlers knew how to make hooked textiles, it unlikely that they were used on the floor.

American floor coverings in the 17th century were sand coatings, painted floors or painted canvas. Often the wood of the floors was bare and undecorated. The use on the floor of what we call “rugs” did not begin until the early 18th century. “Rugs” and “carpets” before about 1725 were mostly used as table covers and, perhaps, wall or bed decorations.

Whatever the specifics of the origin of hooked textiles, it seems likely that the basic elements and processes of making them were present at its beginning.

Another thing to notice about hooked rugs is that they are “digital,”

that is, composed of dots of color.

Think of and look at two paintings done in the “Pointillist” style.  First, the one below.


And, then, this one.


The fact that hooked rug designs are digital provides great flexibility and nearly any pattern can be made as a hooked rug.

There are none of the structural limitations on the nature of possible patterns that we see and experience in many other kinds of textiles.

The digital character of hooked rugs is another reason why making one is more accessible.

It is easy to pull the loops of different colors through the backing, and

and, it is, relatively easy, to use the resulting dots of color (the individual loops) to draw with great flexibility.







I do not mean to indicate, by what I have said so far, that there are no skills in the hooking of rugs.

There are a number of them, and Michael Heilman, who teaches rug hooking could tick off a number of mistakes that beginners tend to make.

But it is still true that rug hooking, like macramé that I once indulged in seriously for five years, is very democratic.

If you like hooking the next stitch you can become pretty good pretty quickly.

There are frequent indications in the literature that rug hooking was mostly an art practiced by the poor. Scraps of nearly any kind of cloth could be saved and ultimately utilized. the materials were accessible to nearly anyone.

Finishing schools, for the more prosperous, taught embroidery and quilting, but not rug hooking.

HR73And hooked rugs were not treated in the women’s magazines of the 19th century.

The poor could emulate the oriental rugs of the rich by making those like this, sometimes described as a “poor main’s rug.”

HR74(Also similar to some of Amy’s Amish quilt patterns)

 The maker of this rug seems to have been able to pick up any strip of hooking material from a random pile and produce this general, marbled effect (although an experienced textile person has said to me that “marbling” requires more intent than one might think).

By using black dividing strips, the maker has been able to create seeming borders and a central medallion, displaying her or his envy of those who own a real oriental rug.

The literature suggests that American rug hooking began in Canadian maritime areas, and what became the states of the U.S. northeastern coast, and, then, spread south and west.

The earliest image of an American hooked rug I have been able to find is this fairly sophisticated “leopard” rug, woven in Vermont about 1820.

One sign that this is an older hooked rug is that it has a linen backing.


Burlap or jute material, that became the most frequent backing for hooked rugs,


 was not commercially available in the U.S. until about 1850.

Here is another old U.S. hooked rug.



And another from the Civil War era.

The oldest known Canadian hooked rug, I’ve found

was designed by one teen-age sister and hooked by her younger one in 1860. As you can see it is inscribed. It has a burlap back.

Below is another older Canadian hooked rug. 1898.

In the 20th century moves were made to standardize the quality of both the materials and the work.

Devices for cutting cloth into strips for hooking were sold and even the hooking strips, themselves

Distinctions were made about hooked rugs made from “wide” vs “narrow” strips of cloth (a distinction that still exists in some hooked rug books).

Yarns began to be used


(although strips were still used and sold).

Designs were captured on paper


or printed on backing material.

The creativity visible in some earlier hooked rugs designed by the maker, as with this one


and another (below), at the Smithsonian, were was reduced sharply in favor of uniformity.


The Grenfell rugs illustrate many features of what went on.

The Grenfell organization chose the materials, the designs, the colors and the standard of quality desired.

Hookers were given a design and the materials to be used and were sent off to hook this particular rug.

When the finished rug was brought in, the Grenfell managers decided whether it was at the level of quality that merited a Grenfell label.

If so, the hooker was likely assured of a future Grenfell hooking project.
Most hooked rugs I have seen are smaller sizes, but a remarkable number of room-sized hooked or tufted rugs have been, and are being, made. I thought you might like to see a few.

Here, below, is a room-sized hooked rug made in a Connecticut WPA project during the Depression of the 1930s.

And here is another room-sized hooked rug, currently visible in the market.



The square-ish hooked rug, below, (about 10’ x 10’) was made in Europe.

I, also, have here, in the room,




a usable hooked runner that is 17 feet long and still a fragment because it is missing a border on one end.

The wonderful room-sized hooked rug, below, is very impressive indeed. Its design recalls Persian “vase” carpets. It was made in Germany.




In part, because they are relatively easy to make, hooked rug designs have gone in many directions and it might be useful to give a few examples.

One writer suggested that hooked rug designs might be usefully treated using the following categories.





Designs based on everyday life

Star designs





Abstract designs


One area of possible controversy in the hooked rug community has to do with the degree of mechanization of the hooking process.

The original hooking tool was a simple hook with a handle.



But pretty quickly a variety of mechanical improvements made it possible to put hooked stitches in faster.

The hooking material was threaded through a hole (an “eye”) in the tip of the “hook,” which now became a needle.


“Tufting” had arrived.

Once the material to be hooked did not have to be picked up individually for each stitch things went much faster.  The tufting tool below lets you put hooked stitches in as fast as you can pull and push the top half back and forth.



In the commercial world of today, tufting has far out run both conventional hooking and woven pile rugs. The commercial tufting tools can look like sub-machine guns.

Cheaper and faster are the controlling objectives.

But traditional hooking has not been lost.

My wife bred and exhibited collies for a number of years and last April we went to the National Collie Specialty Show.

Vendors of various kinds are permitted and one at this year’s show was a lady making hooked rugs with collie images.

This lady had a demonstration table and rug that she used to show how these hooked rugs were made.


She was using the simple hook, but told me she was looking for a more mechanized hooking tool on eBay.

I offered to put her in touch with Michael Heilman, but she was confident that she could find what she wanted on eBay and she may well have been able to do so by now.

But in April, last year, she was still hooking rugs with the original simple hooking tool.

Now this may not be a very satisfying place to stop, so let’s look at a few more colorful hooked rugs.


The 5′ x7′ hooked rug below is done in the design of a paper Metro card for use in the DC subway system.



Someone has hooked a decent Sewan Kazak medallion.


I think this is the kind of collie images the lady at the show should have been making.


HR111lowerleftGood color usage in the landscape below.



I think the piece below is very well composed.  Good color usage, too.





The last piece is another room-size. About 6′ X 11′.  Compartmented with somewhat different designs in each one.


That’s the end of what Amy and I want to say about these three textile varieties.   We provided a handout that you will find below the link to Part 2 below

To see the material brought into the room, click the link below:


Apply to More Than One of the Categories Below

• Nancy Dick Bogdonoff, “Handwoven Textiles of Early New England: The Legacy of a Rural People, 1640-1880,” Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1975.
• Alan H. Eaton, “Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands,” Russell Sage Fountain, New York, 1937.
• Alan H. Eaton, “Handicrafts of New England,”Bonaza Books, New York, MCMXLIX.


• Melinda and Lazlo Zongor, “Coverlets at the Gilchrist: American Coverlets 1771-1889, Bedford, Pa., Sprocket Press, 2009.
• Gaye E. Elder, “A National Museum of the American Coverlet – We Have One!.” Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot, Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. Volume XLI, No. 3. Issue 163, Summer, 2010, pp. 30-34.
• Pauline Montgomery, “Indiana Coverlet Weavers and Their Coverlets,” Hoosier Heritage Press, Indianapolis, 1974.
Note: Some Commercial Sites in the links below.


• Eva Wheatcroft Granick, “The Amish Quilt”, Good Books, Intercourse, Pennsylvania, 1989
• Reiko Mochinaga Brandon, “The Hawaiian Quilt”, Kokusai Art, Tokyo, 1996
• Dennis Duke and Deborah Harding, “America’s Glorious Quilt”, Quilts: The Art of the Amish, Beaux Arts Editions, 1987
• Phyllis George, “Living with Quilts”, GT Publishing, New York, 1998
• Patricia Cox Crews, “A Flowering of Quilts”, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2001
• M. Joan Lintauylt, “Connecting Quilts, Art, and Textiles”, Dragon Threads, Worthington, Ohio, 2007
• “The Magazine Antiques, Brant Publications, New York, February, 1996: Nancy Tuckhorn, “The Assimilation of German Folk Designs on Maryland Quilts” and Irene N. Walsh, “The Frakturs of Susannah Heebner”

Hooked Rugs

• Anthony N. Landreau, “America Underfoot: A History of Floor Coverings from Colonial Times to the Present, Smithsonian Institution, 1976.
• Joel and Kate Kopp, American Hooked and Sewn Rugs Folk Art Underfoot, E.P. Dutton, 1975:
• Jessie A. Turbayne, Hooked Rugs, History and the Continuing Tradition, Schiffer Publishing, 1991:
• Nina Fletcher Little, “Floor Coverings in New England Before 1850,” Old Sturbridge, Inc., Sturbridge, MA, 1967.
• William W. Kent, Rare Hooked Rugs, The Pond-Ekberg Company, Springfield Mass., 1941:
• William W. Kent, The Hooked Rug, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1930.

Note: Many of the links below are to commercial sites, but are sources of images I have used, and/or, can have interesting information and further examples. Also two hooked rugs

Woven Coverlets, Quilts and Hooked Rugs, Part 2, The Material Brought In

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2015 by rjohn

This is Part 2 of an RTAM program on woven coverlets, quilts and hooked rugs.  If you want to see the lectures in Part 1, please use this link:

There was a goodly amount of material brought into this session and we will treat it here.

(Note: Color differences in images of a given piece are the result of different cameras and lighting.)

The first coverlet below is complete and woven in a species of the overshot structure.  I have not seen another one like it but Melinda Zongor, who heads the coverlet museum in Pennsylvania, says that it is a familiar one.


Cov 2 Howe Rispin



The structure yields what is called a “bird’s eye” effect.  Marla Mallett tells me that this bird’s eye variety is one of the simplest weaving structures.



The next piece was one of two coverlets a member of the audience brought in.  Both are done in the overshot structure.  Both are indicated to be family coverlets woven in southwest Virginia.  Undated.  Both were oven in two pieces and then sewn together.  The center seam is visible.


Cov 3 Howe Rispinturned



This is the second overshot coverlet this member of the audience brought in.  Again the center seam is visible.





The piece below is a scarf, not a coverlet, but also woven in an overshot weave.  Notice how similar the pattern and coloring in this scarf is to that in the coverlet above.



(same scarf, remarkable difference in coloring in the two image below)





The overshot coverlet fragment below has for me a nice, seeming “texture” in its pattern and I think the red works to make it a little distinctive.



The coverlet fragment below is one of those overshot patterns that verges on Escher effects.





The details reveal how near curvilinear effects can be produced with entirely rectilinear devices by varying the width, height and position of devices close to one another.



The large coverlet fragment below is my favorite of those I own (although I like C8, below, a lot, too).  This piece is being displayed with perhaps a third of it folded under on the left.  (It is reminiscent to me of Turkman weavings, although the Turkman never wove something like this.)



It is substantial, fragile, and sewn onto a heavy cotton backing.


This piece is inscribed, but not with the more usual corner signature block.  It was woven in  1841.


(click on image)




The ribbing of the weave suggests that this is a variety of beiderwand.

Another large fragmented coverlet I own is the one below.  I find the use of a white ground and then of red, dark blue and yellow design devices, very effective.


Cov 1 Howe Rispin





It is inscribed and was woven in Pennsylvania in the 1840s, perhaps 1849.




It has major seeming floral gul-like devices.



Something like a minor “gul,”



and even “tertiary” pairs.


This piece also has a beiderwand structure, but despite having two sets of warps, has a light handle. 

Wendel Swan noticed that most of these coverlets seem lighter and would not provide much warmth.  I think it is true that many coverlets were used as a decorative top layer above warmer ones.  The two from SW Virginia were more substantial.

The fragment below is one of two (from the same coverlet) I had in the room that are done in the summer-winter weave. The summerwinter weave has only a single set of warps but, this one, has a heavier handle than do most of the overshot (and the C8 beiderwand) examples we’ve seen above.

Here is the light side.



And here is the dark side.











Now we moved to the quilts brought in.

This quilt again has the green and red coloring, characteristic of Pennsylvania and Maryland quilts that Amy accentuated in her lecture.  She said that she thinks this red is a specific one, called “Turkey red,” made in a very complex process.  She believes that one indicator of its being this Turkey red is that the uneven pattern of deterioration of color – see the right side of this piece.


Quilt 33 Howe Rispin

This pattern is reminiscent of the “oak leaf” design.





The quilt below was described as a “lily” pattern.  It is pieced.


Quilt 10 Howe Rispin



Its owner said that the piece below is a family quilt, made in middle Tennessee in 1900.  It features two shades of pink.


Quilt 11 Howe Rispin

(again the light and the camera push the lighter pink toward tan in the image below)

The pattern is entirely pieced in small squares.  The brighter pink is a solid color.  The lighter one has a small pattern.  The lighter colored devices seem to be “fylflot” rendition.



The next piece features contrasting color diamond blocks on a dark ground, containing, what, again, seem to be “fylflot” devices.  It was machine-pieced, but hand-quilted.  It was suggested that it may have been an Amish coffin cover.







The next three pieces were bought in New Mexico.

This might look like a nine-patch pattern but it isn’t, because every block is exactly the same.  Its field is hand-pieced, but its borders are machine-pieced.  Good use of color.




Quilt 23a Howe Rispin



The crib quilt below has been built up with small hexagonal pieces to form stripes.  Its back is pieced in an ad hoc geometric pattern.


Quilt 22 Howe Rispin

You can see the individual hexagons in the detail below.



In an exchange, after this program, Floris Flam said that “…Q16 (below) might be seen as a ‘log cabin’ design variant, but it’s not.

“While Q16 does have squares, it is built by adding strips to a half-square triangle. These blocks were then arranged in groups of four to form a series of squares set on point.

“I think this quilt is so charming because the narrow strips added to the starting triangles are of irregular width and the fabrics seem to have been randomly placed.

“I did not handle the quilt, but it is possible that it was built on a muslin backing the way a contemporary quilter would use paper in a paper-pieced quilt. If that’s the case, the quilter would have started with a triangle, added strips until the square was almost complete, than added a final triangle for the opposite corner of the square block.”



The lovely quilt below is pinwheel pattern made by Madelena Stoltzfus, Amy’s Amish friend in southern Maryland.  This pattern is reminiscent of some Turkish tiles.



One’s eye focuses on the pinwheel devices and that makes us notice that there are seeming “partial” pinwheels at the sides an both top and bottom of this piece.  That, in turn can make us think of this as a “never-ending” type pattern.  But the basic quilt square (look at the corner inside the border in the detail image below) is, in fact, a “star” or “cross” centered one, and so there is no incompleteness at the edges.  Interesting, how the eye can revise the way we experience a basic square that does not actually employ pinwheels.



The stitch designs used in the quilting of this piece are worth notice.  The back panel is a cheerfully, printed cotton with toy blocks scattered about.



The quilt below is full-sized.  It is another medallion quilt, with partial medallions at its edges.  One begins to look for the character of the basic block used.


Quilt 25 Howe Rispin

We can see, in the detail below, that the quilting stitches on the medallions are intense.



You can see in the image below that this time the basic block centers on the medallions, so the partial ones at the edges are really partial.



We can also see that the quilting stitches both within the medallions and the red areas in between them are dense and elaborate



We moved to treat the next level on the board.  Most of these are art quilts (except for the one at the bottom center) brought in by the local art quilt maker and collector Floris Flam,  who appears on the right of the image below . 

We will treat them one at a time.


Quilt 19 Howe Rispin

Q20 is a pieced kaleidoscope quilt made by Floris Flam for a quilt group challenge. Each wedge of the “sun” was paper-pieced using a pattern she designed. She ran out of interest in the project before she finished piecing the entire circle, so added mountain and sky fabrics to create a sunrise scene.


Quilt 18 Howe Rispin

The quilt, below was made by Sidney Snell, an Oregon artist. It’s called “Miniature Violets” and is part of a series she made that was inspired by spools of thread. The bright circular motifs are machine appliqued and dimensional. The quilt is heavily machine quilted.


Quilt 13 Howe Rispin

The quilt below is raw-edge collage was made by Judy Hooworth, an Australian quilt artist. She uses hand-painted fabrics, cotton sateen strips, net, and stitching to create the image. It is closely quilted to keep the fabrics in place and is finished with a satin-stitched edge. The piece is untitled.


Quilt 14 Howe Rispin

The following piece is a raw-edge appliqué quilt made by Floris Flam, using hand-dyed and screen-printed cotton fabric.  It is entitled: “View from Above 2.”


Quilt 15 Howe Rispin

Below is a machine pieced quilt made by Floris Flam. Most of the fabrics are hand-dyed cotton sateen. It is machine quilted in the ditch. The image is based on a photograph in “Earth from Above: 365 Days” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It was part of a quilt guild challenge. (Title: Convergence)


Quilt 16 Howe Rispin

The piece below is an appliqué/reverse appliqué quilt made by Andrea Limmer of Northern Virginia. (Title: “Veil”)  It was part of the annual Studio Art Quilt Associates fund-raising auction of 12-inch square quilts

Amy Rispin called attention to the fact that most of the leaves in this little landscape quilt are attached only at their stems or veins, so that the edges of the leaves aren’t sewn down. This gives them a 3-dimensional quality that enhances the scene. Amy found this particularly interesting.


Quilt 17 Howe Rispin

Before we leave Floris’ art quilts we should notice a very nice vest she wore, done as one.

Floris: “The right front of the vest was paper-pieced using commercial fabrics. The block design came from a quilting book, but was greatly reduced in scale to be appropriate for a garment. I made the blocks, then arranged them on my design wall to get a pleasing arrangement. The left front and back are each one piece of commercial fabric, quilted using a combination of straight and programmed machine stitches to hold the layers together.”


The small Amish piece, below, is in a geometric design, reminiscent of the flying geese pattern.  Good composition and color use.


Quilt 12 Howe Rispin

Now we moved to some larger quilts.

The quilt below is a recent acquisition that I found in southwest Ohio.  It is in a familiar “Joseph’s coat” pattern and the dealer said that it was made by either the Amish or the Mennonites in about 1920.


Quilt 28 Howe Rispin



The quilting stitches in it are not intense, but seem to be of those characteristic of other Joseph’s coat renditions.



The quilt below is smaller, perhaps a “crib” size, although it is a little larger than most of that format.

Both the piecing on its face and its quilting are by hand.  The meandering pattern is a traditional one called “drunkard’s path.”



Small “fan-shaped” pieces and small squares are used to fashion this face pattern.




It is signed with a tag.  It says that it was made by hand in Virginia in April, 2004. 

Quilt 29 Howe sig

One of the problems with such signatures is that they can be added afterward with more favorable information on them.  Of course, this is a problem with pile rugs, as well.

The full-sized quilt below features compartments with crossed “armatures” and flower-forms pointing outward.  The devices in the compartments are applique.


Quilt 31 Howe Rispin



The use of red and green is another instance of that usage noted in Amy’s lecture.  Notice also how the use of a close yell0w-green works to enliven the palette in this piece.

The hand quilting stitches are intense but not particularly elaborate.


Quilt 31a Howe Rispin

The quilt below is again compartmented with crossing interior elements. 

This design is one of the “crossroads” patterns associated with the “underground railroad.” 

The “crossroads” could be any of a number of places north of the Mason-Dixon line, above which runaway slaves could flee to safety.  The most frequent crossroad one sees in the literature is Cleveland, Ohio, from which slaves could readily cross to Canada.

It is possible, but not known, that this is an Afro-American quilt.


Quilt 32 Howe Rispin



The crosses are composed of richly colored materials.  Trapezoid pieces are sewn to form “chevron”-shaped elements (the resulting chevrons not always of the same color).  The quilting stitches are modest, but by hand.  Amy Rispin says that she is believes that the inconsistent nature of the chevron construction, and the character of the quilting stitches, indicate that this is an Afro-American quilt


Quilt 32a Howe Rispin

The next “quilt” is, in fact, only a face, machine-pieced of small, triangular-shaped, printed materials.  It has a surprisingly sturdy handle.


Quilt 34 Howe Rispin

Although the piecing sewing is by machine, there is a lot of it.  In some ways this quilt face is unremarkable, but a great deal of work has gone into it.




Quilt 34a Howe Rispin

It is dangerous to claim that a textile is “unique,” but the next piece seems a candidate.  It is an example of a quilt whose primary component was taken from another textile entirely.



Here is the material taken from another textile.



It is the shoulder patch from the uniform of a U.S. Seabee in WWII.  The rank is Third Class Petty Officer.

The Seabees built roads, bridges, airfields, during the war, under battlefield conditions.  Recruiters were told to look for smart troublemakers.

In 1949, a known, WWII, Seabee veteran in Virginia, decided to use his unit’s shoulder patches in a quilt he was making.  So he bought a goodly number and quilted them on a red backing in a medallion-like arrangement like this.



He made and quilted on a number of these medallions.



The result was this small quilt.



To a Turkman collector, the result was too interesting to pass up.

He even quilted in a minor ornament between the gul-forms.



My quilting expert friends tell me that his quilting is quite good.

The tiny piece below is one that presses the bounds of what we can call a “quilt.”



It is called a “yo-yo,” from the circular shape of its elements.

Original Pedro Flores Yoyo

As Amy indicated in her lecture, a “quilt” is usually seen to have three layers.  There is a top layer called the “face.”  A middle layer is the “batting.”  And a lower layer is called the “backing.”  A further requirement is that these three layers be stitched together — the actual “quilting.” 

So the question can be raised about whether something that doesn’t have these three layers or these quilting stitches can properly be called a quilt.

We will eventually see a “quilt” that has only a face and a backing quilted together, but the “yo-yo” presses the usual defining characteristics of what we call a “quilt” further.

A yo-yo textile is composed of little circular pieces of cloth sewn in a particular way on one side and then sewn together side-by-side.

Here is a detail of the back of the yo-yo above.  You can see that its elements are flat circles of cloth sewn together at their sides.



Below, is a detail of the front of this same yo-yo.  The individual yo-yo elements are formed by taking flat circles of cloth larger than the back elements and then folding them to the front and sewing them with a stitch that produces a pucker that gives the front face a textured appearance.  These individual pieces are then sewn to each other at the sides using a stitch that does not show.



Now is it  clear that yo-yos have none of the features that would license the use of the term “quilt.”  A yo-yo is probably closest to a quilt “face,” although it is never quilted to another layer.  Yo-yos are probably sometimes treated with quilts because they are made from a variety of printed pattern materials, but it’s clear that they are very different from them.

I intrude on the initial image of the quilt below to let you see something of its small size.  It is what we call a “doll’s” quilt.


Quilt 27 Howe Rispin

Its pieced face is in a “nine-patch” pattern. 



All the materials in it are patterned.  Its back is a single piece pattern similar to the red on its front.  The hand-quilting stitch is in simple diagonal lines.



The piece below is the first quilt I ever bought and shows how insidious the beginning of quilt collecting can be.  It is 6.5 inches by 8 inches and is what is called a “doll house” quilt.

Its face is printed, not pieced.  Quilters call a printed face a “cheater,” but allow it as a legitimate usage in quilting.  They will not pretend that it is something that it is not (most “school house” faces are pieced) but they will not scorn it either.



In addition to its printed face, it has a plain back and the two levels are hand quilted.  The quilting stitch pattern is a simple two-way diagonal, but quilters say that the quilting is pretty good. 


QuiltSchoolhouseback2They further say that in the right market this humble little piece might have surprising value.

One last interesting thing about it.  I’ve owned this piece for a number of years, but last year in an antique store in western Massachusetts, I ran into a book full of all kinds of occupational therapy projects.  It was the second of a two-volume series, published in 1944-45,


QuiltSchoolHouseTherapyBook1945and, there, on one page, was my little quilt.


It was a kit, designed for use in occupational therapy and could have been quilted by a recuperating WWII veteran.

The next piece was the most opulent quilt of the day.

Barbara Korengold is a local quilt maker, who makes wonderful applique quilts.


Barbara spends about two years making one of these and it shows.  Lots of prizes for her work.  Q36, below, is the quilt she brought into this session.

And here’s what she said about it in a subsequent message:

“This quilt was inspired by a wool embroidered and appliqued rug in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York. It is thought to have been made around 1860 in either New York or Maine, by an unknown artist. The quilt is hand appliqued and hand embroidered using mostly solid colored cotton fabrics, with a few tone on tone prints. The colors in the quilt are similar, but not identical to those in the rug. This is not an effort to duplicate the rug, but the relationship will be clear to anyone seeing both pieces. Since the applique is so dense there is not much room for creative quilting, so it is in the process of being hand quilted in a basic grid pattern.” 


Quilt 36 Howe Rispin


Quilt 36a Howe Rispin



I think it might be important to elaborate here, a bit on a point Amy made at the end of her lecture.  You will remember that she put up this Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland


to say that, in the quilt world, there were both a lot of ways to go, and also that it did not matter in what ways quilt collectors and makers choose to, or can, participate.

In a great many of areas of textile collecting there is, nowadays, visible anxiety about where the next generation of collectors is to come from.  This is ,emphatically, not true of the quilt world.  It may have to do, in part, with the fact that many folks interested in quilts are makers as well as collectors.  The quilt world is burgeoning, democratic, tolerant and creative.  There are old classic quilts, there are kit quilts (even K-mart quilts of this variety), there are quilt “challenge” events (where a theme is selected and folks are challenged to make and submit a quilt in terms of it for competition), there are traditional standards, but most participants don’t demand that they be slavishly followed.  And in more recent years “art” quilts have appeared, that can, themselves, go in nearly any direction.

I think one of the reasons why the quilt world is so vibrantly alive has to do with how folks who begin to participate in it are treated by those who are more experienced.  Let’s say that you’re busy person with a job, a household and children.  Your life is full of competing priorities, but you want to make a quilt for one of your beds.  You go and buy and make a “K-mart” kit quilt (because that’s what you’re able to invest in quilting), and you show your finished quilt to some other quilters.  They will not pretend that it is what it is not, but almost always they will say encouraging things about your efforts, even, find things to admire about them.  I think a novice quilt collector will have similar experiences.  The result of this welcoming, inclusive treatment is that folks are encouraged to continue to participate in whatever ways they can.

I think that those of us in some other parts of the textile world could learn some things from the quilt community.

Now we moved to our final group of the day.  Hooked rugs.  You may have to worry about aesthetic decompression as you move from Barbara’s magnificent applique quilt, above, to my humble hooked rug below. But let’s be brave about that.



You saw this piece in the lecture and can see why it is called “a poor man’s rug.”  It is a little over 4′ X 6′ and heavy.  It has been, and despite condition problems, still could be used on the floor.  As we said in the lecture, you can see that the maker was envious of an oriental rug and determined to have something like one.  The thickish black lines mark off putative borders and a central medallion on the basic “marbling” of the rug.  Despite it being humble, it projects good graphic punch.


Hooked 38 Howe Rispin



I am not sure what to conclude about the deliberate versus accidental character of the “marbling.”  It looks very random.  But one experienced textile collector insisted that there is more intent involved than one might think.


Hooked 38a Howe Rispin

 The mounted, hooked rug, fragment, below, features striped, “interlacing” bands in its design.


Hooked 39 Howe Rispin

It is a good rug for exploring how some of us experience a given piece differently than do others.

One experienced collector said to me that he felt that the maker of this rug should have retained the same striped colors, and their order of use, in the interlacing bands.  He experienced this inconsistency as an aesthetic fault.  I acknowledge the fact of what he says, but find that this inconsistency works differently for me, and, in fact, enriches the aesthetic impact I experience looking at this fragment.

It seems to me that there is no demonstrable aesthetic “right” or “wrong” here.   This difference illustrates an instance in which different people experience the aesthetics of a given piece differently.

We couldn’t do justice to the hooked runner below.  It’s 17 feet long and only a relatively small part of it hung down on the front of the board.  But you get the idea.



I watched this runner in a Maryland antique store for over five years, with a ‘not for sale” sign on it.  But one day it had a price and I bargained and bought it.  It is redundant to say, now, but I’m a sucker for compartmented textiles.




Hooked 37a Howe Rispin

Amy Rispin, who owns H42 below, said that she loves the clarity of the colors in it.  Although it is not a fine as Grenfell mats are, its naturalistic pattern is of the sort they frequently use.




Hooked 41a Howe Rispin

This is a finished rug, but the backing has not yet been turned under and sewn down.

The fact that we can see the backing (in H42b below) is useful.  It shows us the character of the backing material used.  It, also, likely, permits us to make two additional points.

First, Michael Heilman said that the backing appears to be of a sort normally used in “latch hooked” rugs. 



If this is a latch hooked rug, it was done with a distinctive tool and a distinctive stitch different from that used with a usual hooked rug. 

Here is the distinctive latch hooking tool.  Notice that it has a hook, but also a hinged “latch” that opens and closes.


I won’t take you through the steps in the latch hooking process, but the image below is what a finished latch hook stitch looks like. HookedRugLatchHook2

Notice that it’s actually a symmetric knot, tied on one horizontal part of a hole in the backing material rather than (as is the case with most hand woven pile rugs) around two warps. (Amy checked and, sure enough, the stitches in her hooked rug are of the knot variety that confirms that it is a latch hooked rug.)

Notice also that with a latch hooked rug the stitches (knots) are entirely independent of one another.  There is no continuation stitch to stitch on the back side that often occurs with conventionally hooked rugs (see image below).

HR67leftThis would seem to indicate (since the symmetric type knot is not firm on the basis of its own construction) that individual knots in a latch hooked rug might come out.  Michael Heilman says that he has never had such a knot failure in a latch hooked rug he has made.  He said that, after the latch hooked knot is in, the maker takes hold of the pile ends and pulls it tight.  And, he said, each knot’s firmness is also supported by the the knots that surround it.

A second point about the backing  in H42b is generally true of hooked rugs and the backings used for them.  The the holes visible in H42b are sizable.  Here it is again for ease of comparison.



The general point to be made is that a hooked rug can have fewer stitches than the number of holes in the backing material (and Michael Heilman says that is usual), but not more.  The number of holes per linear inch in the backing material determines the maximum fineness a hooked rug can have.

The member of the audience who brought the hooked rug below said that it was hooked by her grandmother, who also dyed and cut the wool.


Hooked 42 Howe Rispin

The two hooked pieces below were described as used as either stair treads or riser decorations. 


Hooked 44 Howe Rispin

Done with a simple hook.  Straight lines across and diagonals.  Usually you do 6-8 loops per inch.


Hooked 45 Howe Rispin

Michael Heilman collected them on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in about 2004. They are extremely well hooked and have a low pile. 

Michael said that Rug 46 “…is basically a hand dyed wool fabric rug I made with a shuttle hook, using 1/4” strips.. There are also sections of dyed wool yarn scattered throughout. I guess you would term the design “hit-or-miss” in the same sense of a quilt made with miscellaneous pieces. It is about 28″ x 42″. Rug 46 is a finely made wool rug constructed of 1/8 wide fabric strips on a cotton backing.”


Hooked 46 Howe Rispin




Hooked 46a Howe Rispin



Michael: “H47, the flower pattern is fairly conventional, but well done.  My guess is that this rug dates from the 1920s or 30s and that it was stored away for most of its life., showing no signs of wear or fading.


Hooked 47 Howe Rispin

(again, color differences are the result of camera differences and light)




Hooked 47a Howe Rispin

“The thing that caught my eye is how the maker used a subtle “waterfall” pattern in the center grey field. I am quite sure this was a personal touch, perhaps a result of the maker having a small amount of slightly lighter grey fabric to work with.





This rug is also unusual in the method used to finish the edges.

Normally, a rug maker leaves about 2 or more inches of unworked backing fabric around the edge and then folds that over when finished and sews that portion to the back.

Here, the maker folded the backing fabric over, and probably sewed it, and then continued hooking up to the very edge through the doubled fabric backing.

This would have been a challenge, and one can see on the back that the edge hooking is more uneven than the rest of the rug.



Michael treated H48, below, as similar to his H47 above.  He said they are both very fine and done with yarn.

H48 is a modified “log cabin” design (from quilts) with effective use of color and gradations of it. Mounted on black.









H49, below, is the last one of this virtual version of this program.

This is a “hooked” Art Deco design the size of which you cannot accurately estimate on the basic of the image below.   It could seem to be room-sized, but it is very small, only 8 X 11.5 inches.

It is a piece that I bought very early.  Entirely on impulse, without any real notion of what it was.





It is, in fact, “tufted,” rather than “hooked.”  it’s stitches were put in using a needle with the “pile” material threaded through an eye, rather than using a hand hook.

Notice in the two images of its front above that all of the areas seem filled in.  But if you look closely at H49b and, especially at H49c you will see that this “filled in” effect on the front has been created using not entirely “filled in” areas on the back.  There are fewer stitches on the back than it appears there are on the front.





Our session came to an end.  A few photos after.







Gotta do Floris’ vest again.



I want, again, to thank Amy Rispin for very capably taking on the quilt part of this program, for her work with me as we prepared for this program, for conducting it with me, and then for working with me as we jointly composed this virtual version. 

I also want to thank Melinda Zongor, who heads the Museum for the American Coverlet in Bedford, Pa. for some useful distance consulting. 

We thank quilt collectors, Marsha Swiss, and local quilter, Floris Flam, who both brought quilts and helped us treat them in the room.

Thanks, too, to Michael Heilman, who hooks and collects hooked rugs, and teaches the hooking of them.  Michael provided support during our preparations of the hooked rugs part of this program, brought hooked rugs he had made or collected, and helped with our describing the hooked rugs brought in.

My wife, Jo Ann took photos of the program, as did Wendel Swan, who provided another excellent set.

Amy and I hope you enjoyed this virtual version of a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning that was fun to put on.

R. John Howe