1750 - 1800 Copp Family's Indigo Wool Quilt

1750 - 1800 Copp Family's Indigo Wool Quilt

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This indigo wool quilt is one of three late-eighteenth-and-early nineteenth-century quilts that were donated in the 1890s by John Brenton Copp of Stonington, Connecticut. All are part of an extensive gift of household textiles, costume items, furniture, and other objects that belonged to his family from 1750 to 1850. The Copp Collection continues to provide insights into New England family life of that period.
Whole cloth quilts were most popular between 1775 and 1840, although before 1800 they were relatively rare and expensive. This eighteenth-century example from the Copp family is a glazed indigo wool quilt. The fabric was dyed blue with indigo, one of the oldest dyes used for textiles. Glazing, a process involving the use of a hot press on wool fabric, resulted in a smooth, lustrous surface. The lining, a butternut-colored wool, apparently was made from two different blankets.
It is quilted with a popular motif of the period, a large pineapple, using blue wool thread, 7 stitches per inch. A quilted flowering vine extends from a basket at the bottom edge of the quilt and frames the pineapple. A family member, John Brown Copp (b. 1779), was known to have drawn designs for white counterpanes for the young ladies in the Stonington area. The quilting pattern on this indigo wool quilt is similar to the embroidery pattern of a white counterpane, from about 1800, which also belonged to the Copp family.
An analysis of the household textile collection donated by John Brenton Copp can be found in the Copp Family Textiles by Grace Rogers Cooper (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1971). In the book the author summarizes the family background. “The first Copp to reach America was William, a 26-year-old London shoemaker who in 1635 set out for the Massachusetts Colony on the good ship Blessing. He landed east of Boston and became the first owner of Copp’s Hill in north Boston.... William’s son Jonathan established the Connecticut branch of the family around Stonington later in the seventeenth century. Many of his male descendents gained comfortable prosperity as merchants and businessmen, while their wives and daughters led full lives as mothers of the large families in which education and refinement were encouraged.... The long succession of Jonathans, Samuels, Catherines, Esters, Marys, and Sarahs makes it rather difficult to set in order the generations and their contributions to the collection.” The exact maker of this indigo wool quilt is unidentified, but it was probably made by one or more members of the Copp household.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Copp Family
place made
United States: Connecticut, Stonington
Physical Description
fabric, wool (overall material)
thread, wool, linen (overall material)
filling, wool (overall material)
overall: 100 in x 92 in; 253 cm x 235 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of John Brenton Copp
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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