1880 - 1895 Commemorative Ribbon Parlor Throw

Although this crazy-patched parlor throw is characteristic of the many made in the last part of the 19th century, its many souvenir ribbons, extravagant embroidery, painted patches, typical period motifs, and a multitude of silk and velvet fabric samples combine to make it unique. Thirteen printed campaign and club ribbons dating from 1884 to1890 support Grover Cleveland as president and commemorate organizations such as the Iroquois or Americus Clubs. A “Kate Greenaway” ribbon also adorns the throw. Kate Greenway (1846-1901) was a famous English children’s book illustrator whose images appear on other quilts in the Collection.
Twelve large crazy-patched blocks, varying in size, were assembled to make this throw. It has a light blue cotton lining, which is machine-seamed, with a cotton filling. The black satin border is machine stitched with black silk. The embroidery on the throw includes the following stitches: French knot, feather, chain, straight, stem, detached chain, herringbone, and buttonhole. Embroidery stitches cover all the seams and decorate some of the patchwork pieces. There is no binding. Instead the top and lining are machine-seamed face to face on three sides, turned right side out, and the fourth side is whipped by hand. It is tied every 12 1/2 inches with light blue silk.
The quilt was donated by Arthur Wallace Dunn Jr. in memory of his father. Arthur Wallace Dunn Sr. (1859-1926) was a newspaper political correspondent and author who often toured the country with presidential candidates. One of the printed ribbons “Reporter National Democratic Convention 1888” may have held particular significance for him. Another patch is embroidered with the name, “Lillian.” Arthur Wallace Dunn Sr. married Lillian J. Nash in 1890. Perhaps his wife made this throw, incorporating ribbons her husband had collected as souvenirs.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, velvet, taffeta, ribbon, cotton (overall material)
thread, silk, cotton, metallic (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 62 in x 44 in; 156 cm x 112 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Family & Social Life
Government, Politics, and Reform
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 Commander Arthur Wallace Dunn, Jr.
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