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the mary schafer collection: a legacy of quilt history


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Photo of Dutchman's Puzzle quilt

Dutchman’s Puzzle
Mary Schafer, piecer
c. 1976
Flushing, Genesee County, Michigan
Cotton with Polyester Batting
80 x 95
MSUM# 1998:53.30

This quilt is an example of Mary’s interest in making and completing quilts incorporating pieces of the past.  The fabrics all date from the early 1900’s.  Mary’s finished quilt won the blue ribbon for best pieced quilt from old fabrics at the 1978 Festival of Quilts Contest in Santa Rosa, California.

Photo of Album quilt  

Maker unknown
collected in Bird-in Hand, Pennsylvania
85 x 92
MSUM# 1998:53.1

Representative of Mary’s interest in historic quilts, this antique signature quilt is an example of Pennsylvania Dutch quiltmaking.  Found inscribed on the blocks are “Miss Barbara Swan 1856” and “Mr. D. Royer 1856.”  It has been suggested that the signatures point to the quilt being made as a gift for an engaged couple.  The printed cottons are indicative of its provenance—mustard-yellow, red and green with a blue border.  The quilting designs include hearts, tulips, and a barn design with a cable quilted into the border.

Photo of Whig Rose quilt  

Whig Rose
Maker Unknown
c. 1850-70
probably West Chester, Pennsylvania
89 x 90
MSUM# 1998:53.115

Red, yellow, and green are indicative of the quilt’s Pennsylvania Dutch provenance.  The four-block layout is common to the large-scale appliqué quilts created during the mid-19th century.  Mary’s collection contained a second Whig Rose quilt thought to have been made by the same hand.

Photo of Whole Cloth quilt  

Whole Cloth Quilt
Theresa Hamilton
Harpersfield [state unidentified]
Cotton with cotton stuffing
82” x 83”
MSUM# 1998:53.116

As the supply of cotton thread became greater and less expensive after 1810, the popularity of quilts featuring stuffed (also called “trapunto”) work increased.  Intricately stitched, these textiles were a showcase for the expert needlewoman.  This quilt is inscribed in silk thread, “Theresa M. Hamilton.  October 8, 1837.  Harpersfield.”

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