1790 - 1799 Esther Wheat's Wool Quilt

1790 - 1799 Esther Wheat's Wool Quilt

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Esther Wheat's quilt is an example of a glazed wool fabric, not only used for bedding but also petticoats in the eighteenth century. The shiny surface of the quilt top was achieved by calendering, a process of applying heat and pressure with metal plates or rollers to a worsted fabric. In Esther's quilt the high sheen of the fabric enhanced the elaborate quilting of the large feathered heart and two pineapples surrounded by a scrolling vine with flowers. According to the donor, Esther Wheat Lee's great-great-granddaughter, the original plain weave yellow wool lining wore thin and was replaced by Esther's daughter, Olive Lee Doolittle. A thin layer of cotton fiber filling was added before the second lining of red twill weave cotton and wool was quilted to the original lining, but not through the quilt top.
Esther Wheat made this quilted indigo-blue wool bed cover for her dower chest in the 1790s. Esther, a twin, was born in 1774 in Conway, Massachusetts. She married Benjamin Lee in 1799 and died at Canastota, New York in 1847. Esther's quilt was passed down through five generations of women before being donated to the Smithsonian in 1973.
Currently not on view
Object Name
quilted counterpane
Object Type
Other Terms
quilted counterpane; Counterpane; Household Textile
Date made
Wheat, Esther
Physical Description
fabric, wool, cotton/wool twill (overall material)
indigo (overall color)
quilted (overall production method/technique)
wool, cotton (overall thread)
wool (overall filling)
overall: 91 in x 93 in; 231 cm x 237 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Miss Olive E. Hurlburt
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object