1883 Vickery Sisters' Crazy-patch Parlor Throw

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This crazy-patched parlor throw was made by two sisters who lived in Fall River, Mass. The only information known about them is their last name, Vickery, and that neither sister married. A date of 1883 is embroidered on one silk patch.
Their needlework is an example of the crazy-patch work that was very popular in the United States from 1870 to 1900.
This type of quilt was not necessarily made for bedding, and more often was a project designed to be displayed over a chair or sofa in the parlor. The crazy-patchwork throws were constructed of pieces of silk, satin, velvets, and ribbon, and enhanced with fancy embroidery stitches. A wide range of appliquéd, embroidered, or painted motifs provided additional interest.
This parlor throw consists of many crazy-patched and embroidered parallelograms that were assembled into ten 4 ½-inch vertical strips. The strips were joined and framed by a 2 ½-inch black velvet ribbon border with 1 ¾-inch gold satin ribbon tabs, imposing order on disorderly crazy-patches. Felted appliquéd motifs of flowers and birds adorn several patches. Other patches contain motifs such as fans, butterflies, horseshoes, or spider webs, all frequently found on crazy-patchwork. “Kate Greenaway” figures, another popular motif of the era, 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.
Commemorative ribbons were often saved and then used for crazy-patchwork. A silk ribbon souvenir bookmark with an image of Lincoln and the inscription: “THE LATE LAMENTED PRESIDENT LINCOLN” (“T. Stevens Coventry” on the back) is prominent on this parlor throw. It is a modified version of a ribbon the Thomas Stevens Company of Coventry, U.K., made for Lincoln’s second inauguration in 1865.
Thomas Stevens revitalized silk ribbon weaving in Coventry by adapting the jacquard weaving process to produce woven pictures. Custom-designed ribbons, badges, bookmarks, etc., might have portraits, text, or local scenes incorporated in the weave. The term “Stevengraph” is often used to describe the products. These were marketed at the time as “Stevens’ Patent Illuminated Book Markers.” Although only part of the ribbon is visible on this throw, similar ribbons are further inscribed: “ASSASSINATED AT WASHINGTON / 14 APRIL 1865 I HAVE SAID NOTHING BUT WHAT I AM WILLING TO LIVE BY, AND IF IT BE THE PLEASURE OF ALMIGHTY GOD, TO DIE BY. (A. LINCOLN)”
While there is little information about the Vickery sisters at this time, their needlework project contains many items of interest. It is a worthwhile contribution to the Collection.
Currently not on view
date made
Vickery Sisters
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, velvet, taffeta, ribbon, wool, cotton (overall material)
thread, silk, metallic (overall material)
overall: 62 in x 54 in; 157 cm x 137 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Edith B. Putnam
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Government, Politics, and Reform
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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