1820 - 1840 Achsah Goodwin Wilkins's Appliqued Counterpane

1820 - 1840 Achsah Goodwin Wilkins's Appliqued Counterpane

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Achsah Goodwin Wilkins designed this appliquéd counterpane, which is similar to several that have been attributed to her skills. Written in ink in one corner of the lining is: “A. G. Wilkins 1820 / M. D. Davis 1890.” She gave many quilts and counterpanes to her daughters. These were later inherited by descendents. “M. D. Davis” is most likely Mary Dorsey Davis (1845-1939), daughter of Hester Ann Wilkins Davis, and granddaughter of Achsah Goodwin Wilkins.
A bouquet of appliquéd water lilies and roses, cut from different chintz fabrics, is the focus of this counterpane. It is surrounded by two undulating wreaths. Eight floral sprays, cut from another chintz fabric, are between the two wreaths. The ground for the appliqué resembles quilting, but is a fancy weaving of a white cotton double cloth called Marseilles. A wide 7¾-inch roller-printed floral strip borders three sides of the counterpane. It is the only area that is lined.
Achsah Goodwin, daughter of a wealthy merchant, William Goodwin of Lyde, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1775. Achsah became a member of the Methodist Church at eighteen, although it caused difficulties with her Episcopal family. On August 5, 1794, she married William Wilkins Jr. (1767-1832), also a Methodist. In addition to rearing a family, she was active in mission work and the establishment of a Methodist church in Baltimore. Achsah died in 1854.
In William Rush Dunton’s Old Quilts, 1947, one of her granddaughters, Mary Dorsey Davis, provided notes from her mother, Hester Anne (Mrs. Allen Bowie Davis), detailing Achsah’s life. “My mother [Achsah] was a very superior woman, possessing strong sense, sound judgment, great dignity, remarkably self-possessed.... She suffered from cutaneous disease... most frequently [she] beguiled her weary hours of sickness by designing and laying out fancy spreads in which she displayed beautiful taste.... I, as well as many of her descendants, have choice specimens of her handiwork which we prize highly.” Achsah’s access to fine imported fabrics, attention to needlework details, and her design innovations are evident in this quilt, as well as others that are attributed to her. Her quilts are treasured additions to several quilt collections.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
bed coverings
date made
1820 - 1840
Wilkins, Achsah Goodwin
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, none (overall material)
overall: 115 in x 124 in; 293 cm x 315 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mrs. Robert B. Stephens
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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