1875 - 1890 Mary "Delia" Lynch's Crazy-patched Parlor Throw

1875 - 1890 Mary "Delia" Lynch's Crazy-patched Parlor Throw

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“We hope that restful comfort lingers / Under this work of loving fingers” is the sentiment inked on this parlor throw by Mary “Delia” Lynch. As Mary grew up in Virginia, married and lived in Illinois and in 1886 moved to California, it is not known precisely where this parlor throw was made. When the donor, Mary’s granddaughter, discovered it in an old trunk in the 1950s, she noted, “It was as new as the day it had been finished years ago for it had not only never been used, it had not even been lined.”
Twenty 13 ¾-inch crazy-patched blocks are framed with a 2 ¾-inch maroon velvet border on this parlor throw. As is characteristic of many silk crazy-patched quilts (parlor throws) of this period, the pieces came from a variety of sources. The donor described the fabrics her grandmother used: “Most of the pieces are from materials of her [Mary Lynch] dresses and the dresses of my mother [Norma Clark] as a child and as a young girl. Among them are several pieces on which my mother painted a musical score [notes for ‘Auld Lang Syne’], a verse, and a spray of flowers.” Although the pieces were collected over a long period of time, it is not known whether Mary brought along the pieces, squares, or finished throw when she moved to California in 1886. The lining of the throw was done in 1968 by the donor a few years after she discovered it in an old trunk after her mother died.
The patches contain initials, and other painted and embroidered motifs often found on patch-work parlor throws. Among these are two 1880 campaign ribbons; one for Republicans James Garfield and Chester Arthur, another for Democrats Winfield Hancock and William English. Commemorative ribbons are another item often found included on crazy patch needlework.
One embossed maroon velvet patch, has the inscription “J.H. WHITEHURST GALLERIES / NEW-YORK / WASHINGTON D.C. / BALTIMORE / RICHMOND / NORFOLK / PETERSBURG / LYNCHBURG.” Most likely this is a case pad that would have been opposite a daguerreotype. It is an unusual example of the source of fabrics gathered to make a throw. Jesse Harrison Whitehurst (about 1820-1875) was one of the earliest and most successful photographers in Virginia. As noted above, he had several commercial studios and the quality of his work is among the best of that era.
All of the patches are enhanced with cross, buttonhole, feather, straight, detached chain, herringbone, star, stem, and French knot stitches--a feature of crazy-patchwork.
Mary Adelia, known as Delia, was born about 1845 to Maria and Grover Young in Richmond, Va. She was a descendent of an early English pioneer, William Claiborne (about 1600-1677), surveyor and settler in Virginia and Maryland. She married Jacob G. Lynch (ca 1842-1886) in Illinois, on January 30, 1867. On the 1870 census, they were living in Cairo, Ill., with their infant daughter, Norma. In 1886, after Jacob’s death, Mary moved to California. From at least 1900, she lived with her daughter Norma and Norma’s husband, Joseph H. Clark, in Oakland, Alameda Co., Calif. Mary died February 9, 1917, and is buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
The donor in a letter expressed this often-noted sentiment: “Because I am the last of my line with no blood relatives, I am eager that this beautiful heirloom piece of American hand-craft should find a home where it can be appreciated, preserved, and cherished.” At the news that the parlor throw had been accepted, the donor “went out to dinner in celebration of the fact that at long last ‘Grandma’s Quilt’ had found a proper home.” Mary Lynch’s parlor throw is a noteworthy addition to the Collection.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Lynch, Mary Adelia Young
Physical Description
fabric, silk, velvet, ribbon (overall material)
thread, silk, chenille (overall material)
overall: 74 in x 60 in; 187 cm x 152 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Merritt D. Robison Jr.
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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