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Expertly curated American antique quilts star in Jasper52 auction, Jan. 9

NEW YORK – Jasper52 invites bidders to follow a thread back in time with a January 9 online auction of beautiful handmade quilts and textiles. The 111-lot sale features both traditional and intricately patterned examples. Bidding is available absentee or live via the Internet as the auction is taking place through LiveAuctioneers.

As American as apple pie, quilts have added color and whimsy to bedrooms since colonial times, when imported materials were very expensive and families had to use every scrap of cloth economically. Saving or salvaging small scraps of fabric was a routine part of life for all early American households. Small pieces of fabric that had been set aside would be joined together to make larger units called “blocks.” Sometimes the blocks were joined together very simply to create utilitarian bedding for much-needed warmth on cold winter nights. But once communal quilting bees became popular with women (and sometimes men) as an efficient way to construct a finished textile product, quilting rose to the level of an art form.

Quilt tops would be prepared in advance of a quilting bee, where the actual quilting was completed by multiple people. Quilting frames were often used to stretch the quilt layers and maintain even tension to produce high-quality quilting stitches and to allow many individual quilters to work on a single quilt at one time.

In many communities quilting bees were important social events typically held between periods of high demand for farm labor. Quilts were often made to commemorate major life events, such as marriages or the upcoming birth of a baby.

Wedding ring quilts, which have a patchwork design of interlocking rings, have been made since the 1930s. White whole-cloth quilts with high-quality, elaborate quilting, and often trapunto decorations as well, are also traditional for weddings. However, it was considered bad luck to incorporate heart motifs into a wedding quilt – there was a superstition that the couple’s hearts might be broken if such a design were included. Instead, tulip motifs were commonly used to symbolize love in wedding quilts.

1860s Whig Rose applique quilt with leafy vine border. Estimate $3,500-$4,000

Let’s take a look at a few of the top quilts in the January 9 auction. First, there’s Lot 87, a gorgeous red, green and cheddar Whig Rose applique quilt made sometime between 1850 and 1865. Hand-appliqued and hand-quilted, it has a serpentine leaf-and-vine border and a traditional four-block center central configuration with floral and foliate designs. The estimate is $3,500-$4,000.

A beautiful 1860s red and white Feathered Star/Flying Geese quilt was hand-pieced and hand-quilted, with a sawtooth design and multiple border. Sturdy and colorful, it measures 82 by 84 inches and is expected to make $2,500-$3,000.

1860s red and white Feathered Star quilt. Estimate $2,500-$3,000


For something exotic and breathtakingly beautiful, there’s Lot 111, a 1930s Hawaiian “Awapuhi,” or Red Ginger, cutout applique quilt. The design depicts a plant commonly seen in the Hawaiian islands, and the traditional ripple quilting throughout adds a pleasing dimension to the botanical motif. Measuring 80 inches square, it is estimated at $3,500-$4,000.


1930s Hawaiian “Awapuhi,” or Red Ginger, cutout applique quilt, 80 inches square. Estimate $3,500-$4,000

You can bid with confidence on any and all of the “American beauties” in this auction. Each lot was curated by renowned Americana and folk art expert and certified appraiser Clifford Wallach, who also wrote the catalog descriptions.

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