BTG85 Bear Paw Wedding Quilt

91 x 91 inches
New England

This is another quilt that has been in my private collection for over 30 years. Until this week, this quilt was considered a mint quilt. Mint means never used and never washed. Now that we have freshly washed this quilt it becomes a wonderfully clean antique quilt....Prior to washing one could not easily see the quilting. Once the quilt is washed it will shrink about an inch and results in the quilting design becoming almost 3-D.

Constructed from 36 9-inch Bear Paw blocks on point and joined with white blocks of the same dimension. Each block has an India ink signature, along with a number in the center square of each block. The various numbers usually indicate that this was a present for a minister, a special person or a wedding present. You would have donated money (back then, probably 25 cents) and if your number was chosen, then you were able to have your name inscribed on a block.

This third quarter of the 19th century quilt, with earlier fabrics, is perfectly constructed. Around the permimiter of the squares we have a double, approximately 10" border. The inside border measures 2-5/8" in width and is comprised of dozens of triangles, each measuring 3-7/8 by 2-5/8" by 2-7/8". This border alternates between white and a wonderful turkey red and black calico. The outside border is made from the same very fine white cotton as the body of the quilt. The front is turned over to the back and stitched down creating a 1/4" binding. The binding was stitched down by machine, showing the affluence of the maker. All piecing and quilting was beautifully executed by hand.

The easiest part in making a quilt is the binding. In those days, people were more more humble. However finishing the quilt by machine shows that they were affluent and fortunate to have a new treadle sewing machine. The signature blocks are created from a nine patch design with each corner a Bear Paw pattern, The center block was saved for the signature. There are two main quilting designs in the white blocks. Every other square has one of the two quilting designs. What we can now see on this quilt, now that it is organically washed, is that most of the blocks have a heart quilted in all four corners. The hearts indicate that this was probably made as a wedding present and was considered too special to be used. The entire white border is embellished with a beautifully executed meandering vine pattern.

It appears that the signatures were all executed by one person.

I have located one of the families' background. The Stabley family lived in East Manchester Township, York, PA.

The 91 inch sides of this quilt allows it to fit on today's queen sized bed, with over 15" overhang on each side.

This wonderful unused 19th century quilt is now organically hand washed and ready to be sent, free of charge, for your at-home approval.