Friday, September 14, 2012

Domestic Fabrics

Here's an early Virginia quilt you may have seen displayed at the Rocky Mountain
Quilt Museum a few years ago. It's signed in cross-stitch: "Sally Lee Camden her Bedquilt"

Rusty who owns the quilt has found a Sally Lee Camden born in 1777 (or possibly 1785) in Amherst County, Virginia. Her parents were William and Sybell Dent Camden. She married Peter Dent in 1807 and changed her name to Sally Dent, so we can guess that the quilt was made before 1807. Sally died about 1850 in Bedford County, Virginia.
The Camden quilt seems to be a good example of a quilt made from domestically produced cotton prints. The simple calicoes  in shades of brown, brick red, pink and indigo blues could very well be the product of American mills.

The quilt, dated 1812, is made of similar prints

There's really no way to tell if these basic calicoes are domestic or imported but they illustrate well the kind of prints being manufactured in the United States before 1820.

Even with all the smuggling going on in coastal towns like Newburyport, Massachusetts, imported yardgoods were in short supply during the War of 1812. Searches for fabrics in the Early American Newspapers database come up with few hits for words like "calico" or "ginghams" in 1813 and 1814.

Newburyport Herald Fall 1813
Mary Jenkins had a little India Calico and some Factory Ginghams (which might have meant they were domestically produced.)  Sarah Emery remembered Mary Jenkins's store at another location,
"Mary Jenkins's millinery establishment was in her house on Water, corner of Market street."

Could this be the storekeeper's grave?
Mary born about 1746, died in 1837

Read more about smuggling in Newburyport at this post:

Women like Lucy Bakewell Audubon, living in the far west ---Ohio and Kentucky---might have envied women in Newark, New Jersey who could shop at Moses Hedden's.

Newark Centinel of Freedom

In spring 1814, he advertised a "fresh supply of scarce and fashionable Indian and European GOODS," but he was still eager to buy or barter home woven fabrics, like these wool/cotton or wool/linen stripes below.

Linsey quilt, probably pieced
 mid-19th-century or later, but how old is the cloth?


Baltimore Patriot, Summer, 1813

Small "manufactories" like that of Dupont and Company in Wilmington, Delaware, shipped "superfine cloth" to stores in Baltimore. Superfine often meant wool broadcloth but they could also be weaving or printing cottons.

DuPont also made Superfine Gunpowder.

Several manufactories advertised calico printing---meaning woodblock printing on cotton or linen or combination fabrics.

New York National Advocate, 1813

One could go to Thomas Stephens & Company in lower Manhattan and leave an order for cotton yardage or a printed shawl, which would be printed to your specifications by W. Ovington.

New York Merchant Advertiser, 1813

Competitor Anthony Jones had printed vests, shawls and handkerchiefs on hand to sell. Apparently, he had more printing business than he could handle was looking for apprentices (country boys preferred.)

For more pictures of the Camden quilt see this post:

1 comment:

WoolenSails said...

I like the domestic fabrics more than the fancy european styles. Just something about simple quilts made by woman who used what they had.