1875 - 1885 James, Kent, Santee & Co. Fabric Sampler Quilt Top

The quilt top is comprised of twenty-five 13-inch printed cotton squares that are samples from the textile firm, James, Kent, Santee & Co., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All of the squares are plain-woven, roller-printed cotton. Thirteen squares are different red on pink or pink on red floral designs; twelve are brilliant polychrome prints, mainly paisleys. The squares are hand sewn, but the border is stitched on by machine.
James, Kent, Santee & Co., was a successful textile firm established by William C. Kent and two friends in 1840. A New York Times notice (February 22, 1860) listed the firm among other Philadelphia merchants, as “enemies to the institutions of the South.” They were listed under “THE BLACK LIST, OR ABOLITION HOUSES, OF PHILADELPHIA.” Despite this and a disastrous Philadelphia fire in February 1866 that destroyed their buildings, the firm prospered until it was reorganized under another name in 1882.
The donor’s father, Henry D. Welsh, joined the firm in 1852, became a partner in 1856 and continued in the firm until 1881. William C. Kent and Henry D. Welsh and others, in addition to the textile business, successfully invested their time and energies in the development of railroads. Among many other civic activities, Henry D. Welsh was one of the incorporators of the Centennial Exposition in 1876. Both men, self-made, died successful businessmen. The quilt top represents the product of the textile firm that was instrumental in their careers.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
overall: 72 in x 75 in; 183 cm x 191 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Laura Welsh (Mrs. Thomas L.) Casey
Additional Media

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