Monday, April 30, 2018

A Maryland Album Quilt


Back in March 2016, I wrote a post about a signature quilt I had acquired and called it “nearly” my holy grail of quilts.  It is a special quilt with beautiful Turkey red fabric appliqued in a fleur de lis pattern.  It also has lots of names and places that I’ve been able to research and trace the quilt to a church community in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  There is still much to do with it but it will be set aside for a while as I think I have found a new, exciting project.  It is an album quilt from Maryland, dated 1843.  It is not a Baltimore album quilt in the definition I use – an album quilt made in Baltimore -- but is an early Maryland example of the Baltimore style (pre-dates the true Baltimore album quilts) and comes from an area in Baltimore county, just outside of Baltimore. 

Today I am sharing a set of pictures I took randomly of some of the quilt blocks with inscriptions of surnames that appear multiple times on the quilt.


A picture of the center block is above.  The quilt is a 25 block album quilt and it is huge, approximately 104” x 104”.  It looks like J… Musslman is embroidered in cross-stitch, along with that 1843 cross-stitched date.  Note the spelling of the last name because it appears in other places on the quilt, spelled differently.  I’d also like your opinion, if you have one, about the first initial and what I think are dots after it.  Is that a “J” do you think?  Do those look like dots to you?  Why three dots instead of just one like we would use today after an initial?  There is at least one other place where it looks like there is another first initial with several dots following it.  A detailed photo of the inscription is below.  I’d love to hear what you think.


Take note of the light pink fabric.  I’ve seen other early quilts, circa 1840 and earlier, use light blue and light pink fabrics and the pink shows up a lot in this quilt.  The block pictured below (looks like a carnation to me but I don’t know flowers) uses what I think is the same pink fabric as the center block.  The name Margaret Baker is embroidered, along with the town name of Reisterstown, in red thread using an outline stitch.  A detail photo of the inscription follows the block picture.  My friend, Debby Cooney, an expert on Baltimore album quilts, did some very quick research and found that a Margaret Baker married a Jacob Mussleman (the name was spelled with an “e” in the record she found) in Baltimore.  Their birth dates put them at marrying age right around 1843.  This is an intriguing lead.



The next bit I would like to share is of a block I am calling "Christmas Cactus."  As I said, I don't know flowers, but the applique on this block looks very much like the Christmas cactus my colleague has in the office next door to mine at work.  I also believe there are other Maryland album quilts with blocks called Christmas cactus by others.  If you are better at botany than me, please weigh in with your opinion.


This block has another embroidered name (detail photo below) that is harder to make out, mainly because the stitcher either used a neutral colored thread or the thread faded.  The last name is definitely Wooden, a name that appears elsewhere on the quilt, but the first name is a mystery.  Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.


The next photo is a stamped, not embroidered, name found on a grape block.  It, too, is a little hard to make out.  There look to be two initials in place of the first name but I am uncertain as to what they are.  The last name is definitely another version of Muselman, this time spelled with an "e" and only one "s".


I didn't take a full picture of the grape block yet, but I want to share the detail photo below because the grapes are simply amazing.  Unfortunately, the grapes on the block are in very bad shape because they were crammed with stuffing and the fabric just couldn't handle it.  But, look how small and tightly packed those bunches of grapes are.  I am going to try to do some conservation on this quilt and I plan on starting with the grapes so I don't lose the opportunity to study how they were made.


I have only studies the quilt once so fare but have noted some elements that, even without the place names, suggest this is a Maryland quilt.  I'll discuss those in the next post so check back soon.


10 comments:

  1. The block that is difficult to read... might it be Penelope? There is also a period or stitch after the first name to separate it from the following word. There is a town called Woodensburg north of Reisterstown in Maryland. Could the word Wooden be a location and not a name?

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  2. Oh how exciting! I do believe that looks like a Christmas cactus. Mine seems to bloom whenever it feels like it. I think the first name in the black & white block looks like Penelope. The "n" looks like an "m", but then it is the same as at the end of Wooden. Happy to hear Deb is helping with the research. This is a real winner! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Oh.My.Goodness. Bring out the magnifying glass & historical textile books! I agree that name sure looks like Penelope. Could the dots signify middle names that space did not allow for? My thought about the one pink flower with spikey points is that it might represent Dianthus (aka Pinks?) And doesn’t Dawn at Collector With A Needle have a quilt with stuffed grapes in one of the blocks? Your quilt fits in so well with Gay Bomers 2 BOM - Beyond The Cherry Tree and Benjamin Biggs Wedding Quilt both from the same time frame. Could you post close ups of the red print in the block borders and also the pink fabric in the first block? What fun to be a quilt detective!!

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  4. I can't wait to learn more about this delightful quilt!! The fabrics are fabulous! So interesting to read about your leads on the names. That red dogtooth around all the blocks is to die for :0)

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  5. Wonderful find! Congratulations! I love the use of light pink in the center blocks. That is worth copying sometime, I think. Definitely looks like a carnation in that 1st picture. I love the fat stems of the 2nd picture. Wish I could see the quilt first hand to help you decipher the names. I don't see Penelope, I see Emaline or Emilee. And the second initial looks like an old fashioned "F". I'm probably just confusing things~

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  6. Thank you for sharing your quilt and the information

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  7. What a terrific quilt filled with fun history and intrigue!
    I'm thinking the one embroidered first name could be Penelope too.

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  8. How very interesting. Thank you for sharing the pictures. Such a good find and plenty for you to study.

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  9. What a fascinating quilt. Thank you for the detailed shots.
    As to the name--I can't discern the first letters, but the ending seems to fit with Penelope.
    As far as the different spellings of Muss(e)lman are concerned--delving into my own family history, I know that the spelling could differ from person to person within a family, as if they had never determined a definitive spelling, and each person just used what worked for them. It is interesting that it would have different spellings within the same "document", so to speak.

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  10. What a fantastic quilt, I can't wait to hear more about it. I'm of no help in that dept, but am intrigued to see and learn more about this piece.

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