1886 J.A.L.'s Crazy-patch Parlor Throw

“Pleasant dreams to you my friends J.A.L.” is embroidered on a diamond prominently placed near the center of this throw. Sentiments such as this suggest that these throws are often called slumber throws as well as parlor throws. In general, throws were made to display fancy needlework skills and serve as ornament rather than as bedding.
Often they were made in the crazy-patch style that became fashionable in the last part of the 19th century. This throw utilizes crazy-patched and embroidered plain silk diamonds for the “Tumbling Blocks” pattern, creating an intriguing optical illusion.
The center, pieced in the “Tumbling Blocks” or “Cubework” pattern, is framed by a 5 ½-inch crazy-patch border edged on each side by a 1 ¾-inch blue satin band. The lining is pink silk with a 1 ¼-inch blue silk band decorated with feather and herringbone stitches around all four edges. Silk, tinsel and chenille embroidery threads were used for the buttonhole, feather, French knot, herringbone double cross, running, stem, detached chain, and satin stitches that embellish this throw.
An embroidered patch in the border contains a name, “C. D. Whittier,” and date, “1886.” Another has American flag motifs with the dates “1776-1886.” A moose head and an elephant with “Jumbo” embroidered on it are prominent among the flowers, hearts, horseshoes, birds, fans, web, broom and other motifs typically found on patchwork of the period. “Kate Greenaway” figures are embroidered on several patches. Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) was a popular writer and illustrator of children’s books. Her distinctive style for drawing children was widely copied and appears on various decorative arts of the time.
Several painted diamond patches are signed “Agnes R. Hodgson” or “ARH 86.” One patch with that signature has a palette and brushes. Could she have been an artist who provided patches for crazy-patch work? A friend who had her own particular technique? Or was she the maker of the throw?
The only Agnes R. Hodgson that was found appears on the 1860-1880 censuses. Agnes was born in Oregon City, Oregon, in 1859 to Francis D. and Mary Hodgson. In 1870 they were living in Seneca Falls, N. Y. By 1880 she was living in Milo, Yates County, N. Y., with her parents and five younger siblings. Agnes died in April 1888 at Horseheads, N. Y., of spinal disease (probably meningitis). She is buried in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, N.Y. No information on the maker or origins of this throw was provided at the time of donation to the Collection in 1961.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, velvet, ribbon (overall material)
thread, silk, chenille, tinsel (overall material)
overall: 65 in x 62 in; 166 cm x 158 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 Mr. Siegfried Sanders
Additional Media

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