1839 Frances M. Jolly's Quilt Top

1839 Frances M. Jolly's Quilt Top

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The embroidered inscription “Frances M Jolly 1839” graces the center medallion of this quilt top. This signed and dated silk-and-wool-embroidered quilt top came from an African American family, and the maker, Frances M. Jolly, was said to be an ancestor of one of the donor’s grandparents. The family, of whom little else is known, is said to have lived in Massachusetts and moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina.
A 37½-inch black square set diagonally in the center with red corner triangles is the focal point of this quilt top. It is surrounded by three borders: a 9-inch black, a 10-inch orange, and an 11-inch black. Appliquéd flowers, leaves, and vines embellished with braid and embroidery decorate the surface.
The edges of the appliquéd motifs are not turned under, but are held in place by buttonhole stitching in matching or near-matching thread colors. Silk or cotton threads are used for securing the appliqué motifs, stitching, and the embroidery, except for the inscription, which is chain-stitched in red wool. The quilt has both hand and machine stitching. The outer two borders are machine-stitched, indicating that they were joined after 1860 when sewing machines became common in households. Wool fabrics are used for both the pieced sections and the appliquéd motifs. Wool and silk braid and silk ribbon contribute to the overall design.
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Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Jolly, Frances M.
place made
United States: North Carolina
Physical Description
fabric, wool, cotton (overall material)
thread, silk, cotton (overall material)
overall: 105 in x 102 in; 267 cm x 259 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Joy Powell Davis
African American
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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