William Brosey; Jacquard, tied-Biederwand coverlet; 1842; Pennsylvania

Description
William Brosey wove this Jacquard, 2:1 tied-Biederwand coverlet for J. Bassler in 1842. The coverlet features a variation of the "Four Roses" centerfield field pattern, substituting the traditional rose with what appears to be a marigold. The triple borders features a Germanic tree of life (Hom) flanked by addorsed thistle finches (Distelfinken) and interspersed with pairs of rose bushes. The cornerblock design is made up of a grid of nine, eight-petaled flowers with three, eight-pointed stars. This border and cornerblock design was used by an entire family of coverlet weavers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The green-, madder-, and indigo-dyed wool 2-ply, S-twist, Z-spun weft yarns interact with the 2- and 3-ply, S-twist, Z-spun cotton warp and weft to form an integrated weave structure known as tied-Biederwand and identifiable by the ribbed appearance of the fabric. The coverlet has two self-fringes along its side borders and applied faux self-fringe along the bottom. Also along the bottom edge can be found the woven inscription, “J*BASSLER/W*B” and the date, “1842.” The coverlet was woven as one length, cut, folded back on itself and seamed down the center. This is a standard construction feature for coverlets not woven on a broadloom with a fly-shuttle, as loom widths tended to not be wider than the average person’s arm span.
The Brosey family lived in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The known weavers in the family included John Brosey Sr. (1789-1863), William Brosey (1818-1884), and John Brosey, Jr. (1829-1879). J. Bassler, the name at the base of the coverlet is almost certainly the customer’s name. It is not know which J. Bassler this might be, but the Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report reported a barn and corncrib fire in Lancaster County on the farm of Mr. John Bassler on November 18, 1853. It is possible that the J. Bassler named on the coverlet is indeed this same John Bassler of Lancaster County, but more research is needed to confirm this attribution. What can be determined is that William Brosey wove this coverlet as he signed it with his initials, “W*B” just under the client’s name. The Brosey centerfield designs and triple border are unique to Lancaster County suggesting that besides weaving they too were drafting their own designs and punching their own Jacquard punch cards.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1842
maker or owner
Bassler, J.
maker
unknown
Bishops Antiques
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Manheim
Associated Place
United States: Pennsylvania, Manheim
Physical Description
cotton, wool (overall material)
red. green. blue, white (overall color)
Jacquard, tied-Biederwand (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 97 in x 80 in; 246.38 cm x 203.2 cm
ID Number
1998.0081.03
accession number
1998.0081
catalog number
1998.0081.03
Credit Line
Gift of Walter Sandy and Melanie Peter
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Home and Community Life: Textiles
Coverlets
Domestic Furnishings
Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History