1835 Jessy Anderson's Stuffed-Work Quilt

Description
Jessy Anderson made this white quilted and stuffed-work counterpane in New York, probably completing it in 1835. The free-form overall design incorporates eagles, cornucopias, flowers, leaves, fruits, and other motifs popular at the time. Acorn, oak leaves and thistles are repeated in the quilting in several places.
The center panel, 43 x 39 inches, contains a basket of flowers surrounded by branching coral with a different spray of flowers in each corner. With a thin inner layer of cotton it is closely quilted at sixteen stitches per inch. A 24-inch border surrounds the center panel. It does not have an inner layer of cotton, but is quilted at 18 stitches per inch.
Two eagle motifs are centered in the top and bottom borders. One eagle is perched on an arch that is inscribed in quilting “E Pluribus Unum.” The other eagle holds arrows and an olive branch under a ribbon also inscribed in quilting, “Pluribus Unum.” A cornucopia in the left border holds a “lemon,” the family term, on which is embroidered in backstitch “Jefsy Anderson New York 1835.”
For seven generations the quilt was handed down to the first-born daughter before its donation to the Smithsonian in 1981. The donor remarked that “I am unable to give it the kind of preservative care it needs and deserves . . . . I am also anxious to share this remarkable piece of artistry with as many people as would be interested in it.” While it had been in the family for over 140 years, the decision was made by the donors that “the highest honor we could give to our talented ancestor would be to place the quilt in a museum for many to enjoy.” Jessy Anderson’s quilt documents the expression of skills and art that many women displayed with their needlework.
Jessie was born April 3, 1812 in Scotland. She married January 17, 1840, Robert Dougal Thompson (1812-1889) in Albany, NY. They had six children and she died April 18, 1870 in Cambridge, WI.
Location
Currently not on view
Date made
1835
quilter
Anderson, Jessy
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 93 in x 90 in; 236 cm x 227 cm
ID Number
1981.0830.01
catalog number
1981.0830.01
accession number
1981.0830
Credit Line
Gift of Mary L. Blazek and Teresa M. Blazek
subject
Quilting
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Quilts
Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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