Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quilt Auction from Three Generations is Bitter-Sweet

Over 300 quilts from the same family were auctioned last Saturday.

Last Saturday there was a quilt auction in our community. However this was not an ordinary quilt auction. Upon the death of a dear quilter in our town the quilts of  three generations of quilters in her family were auctioned. When I walked into the gymnasium were the quilts were displayed  I was overwhelmed with a feeling of awe. It was as if I should genuflect knowing that it took three lifetimes to create these wonderful works. The quilts, from daughter, mother and grandmother were all hung for viewing. They were a delight to see and represented a walk through the history of Kentucky Quilting.

 I only had intentions of buying one quilt when I walked in that morning but I just couldn't resist. Eight hours later I walked out with quilts that represented different eras of quilting. I just wrote the check and didn't look back.

The earliest quilt I purchased is a quilt thought to be from the 1840s.  It  has a  hand  carded cotton batting and the intermittent cotton seeds can be seen from the backing. The quilt came from Wayne County, Kentucky and was handed down from the grandmother's family. A 1000 Pyramids Quilt with a wide variation of  fabrics caught my eye. The fabric in this quilt, made in the 1930s, spans at least four decades. I also included in my newly formed collection a two color quilt, two cross-stitch quilts from the 50s or 60s made from kits, and two applique quilts from the 50s or 60s made from kits.

Not many of the 300 plus quilts auctioned that day had labels or were signed. So I urge all quilters to always include a label on your quilt with at least quilter's name, date and location. One of the quilts I purchased was signed. The mother took what looks like a Sharpie Marker and wrote her name in a corner of the quilt on the back. This signed quilt is a Sampler Quilt. It included leftover blocks of some of the other quilts that were auctioned that day.

My other purchases include a 1930s String Quilt, a Double Irish Chain from the 1960s and a Tulip Variation Applique Quilt from the 1950s. My favorite quilt is a Basket Quilt from the 1930s with applique and embroidery with wide green sashing. It looks to be an early version of  "quilt as you go."

Did I mention that all of these quilts were hand quilted? Amazing stitches. Plus the daughter took great care of these quilts refolding each quilt several times a year. I learned  the quilts were stored out of the light so for the most part the colors are bright.

Sadly the hard work that went into each quilt was not recognized and I purchased all of these quilts for much less than their true value. Now it is my duty to give them a good, loving home and continue to show these quilts the respect that they deserve. I have already contacted a person that will give me tips on cleaning and storing antique quilts. But my first task is to create labels for each quilt so their history does not get lost. I will try to post some of the photos of these amazing quilts for all to see and enjoy.

It was truly a bitter sweet day.  

This wonderful basket quilt from the 1930s has applique and embroidery.
This two color quilt, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, still has the quilting pencil lines.

The Thousand Pyramids quilt from the 1930s is scrappy, with the fabric spanning several decades.


  1. So glad you got the quilts. Can't wait to see them.

  2. It was a great day-and am glad you were able to purchase so many of the quilts-at least they will be cared for and stay in Kentucky! I like that you will put labels on them. I feel lucky that I was able to get some of these quilts also. I really felt sad that they were auctioned and will be scattered around-the history will be lost. and they were sold way under value! A family heritage that has now been spread everywhere. It was an amzing testimony to 3 generations of Ky. women!

  3. Thanks for sharing your pictures and commentary. The quilts you purchased look amazing, can't wait to see them in person!

  4. Nice to know that these quilts will have a good home. You will take good care of them and show them to people who will appropriate gush.

  5. Wow! such a great and sad story all at once. Can I post a picture of all of the quilts with a brief part of the story on my blog in March as part of the Vintage Quilt Series? I'll provide a link to this post so people can read more about it! ~katie

  6. You should probably get them appraised by a quilt appraiser and get insurance on them in case of theft or fire. You've probably already thought of that, but in case you haven't you should.

  7. If I had more space to store them, I could see becoming a collector. I'm glad you could give a good home to so many.

  8. Your choices are fantastic, can't wait to see the rest!

  9. Wish I could have seen them. Looks like you got some beauties!