Friday, September 19, 2014

Quilt Slueths - Please Help!


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
This double wedding ring quilt passed from my mother to my sister-in-law, Julie, who gave it to me today, as a birthday gift! The trouble is, we don't know much about it. Apparently Mom showed it to Julie about 12 years ago, and told her it was made by Mom's Aunt Dottie. Then some years later, Mom gave it to Julie, claiming again that it was made by her Aunt, who lived in southern California.


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
Unfortunately, by that time, Mom was a tad confused, and frequently got her stories mixed up a bit. So we don't trust it as a hard fact, that Dottie made the quilt. I have a vague, possible memory of the quilt being placed on Mom's and Dad's bed in the house we lived in from 1951 through 1958. After that, Mom fancied a store-bought, chenille, bed spread. Maybe, as a tribute to it's hand stitched/quilted beauty, she was saving it for one of us. I don't recall ever hearing Mom talk about it.


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
It's a wedding quilt, probably made by somebody as a wedding gift, right? My mom and biological father married in 1939. The fabric appears to me to be from the 30's which would suggest it was probably made then; that maybe what she said about it being made by her aunt is true.


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
But on the back side of the quilt, in two corners (top and bottom), the initials "EC" are stamped with permanent ink. My step-dad's initials are EC. Who would have stamped them on the quilt, and why?


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
My step-dad and Mom married in 1949, two years after my biological father died in an automobile accident. Why would they have used a wedding quilt made for my mom's previous marriage? Why would my step-dad's initials be on it?


Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
If anybody has any ideas about the stamped initials, or thoughts about the age of the quilt, please comment.  Thanks!

9-21-14 Update. There seems to be general agreement that the fabrics used in this quilt are of the 1930s. The general condition of the quilt suggests that it was used (well-used, but also carefully used); and that most likely it was made in the '30s. Still no definitive theory or answer about the initials.

13 comments:

  1. No idea, but the pattern is a Double Wedding Ring. It does look like thirties fabrics though.

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  2. I'm no expert, but the fabric looks to me like 30s fabric as well. It's possible it was made later than that, even so. I also don't think that you should assume it was absolutely a wedding gift - maybe, maybe not. Plus sometimes "wedding" quilts get given well after the wedding!

    The initials... what comes to mind is something like summer camp, or given the era we're talking about, the war. But it seems like it's in too good a condition to have been to either one of those places! And if it came from your mother's side of the family the timing doesn't sound right on that, anyway.

    It's a very interesting mystery - I wish I had more helpful answers, instead of just more questions!

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    1. Again, like me, we're all thinking the initials have something to do with laundry. I like your thought that we shouldn't necessarily assume it was a wedding gift. It IS an interesting story... as are many with these beautiful old quilts. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. The fabrics seem to be from the 30's. That means that it had to have been made at least after 1930. Often a quilt like this would have taken a long time to piece and quilt.
    The EC is a conundrum. Often when families blend and there are heirs on each side, the precious pieces in the household are labeled with the intitials of the original owner. My step-grandmother had stickers on EVERYTHING in the household with her initials or grandpa's on it. There was often a second one with the name of the person who had asked to have that item. If the quilt was your step-father's, then it would have his initials on it.

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    1. Yep, we seem to agree on the fabric... and I agree with you that it doesn't mean it was given in the 30s. (How well I know how long it takes to piece and quilt by hand!) No other heirloom in the family was marked this way. Both my mom and grandmother safety pinned notes on them. The stamp "reeks" of laundry marking in my opinion. Still, it is a mystery, and probably one we'll never solve with certainty. Thanks so much for giving it some thought.

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  4. A mystery! I hope you find some answers. It's beautiful.
    And Happy Birthday, Robin!

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    1. Yes! It is beautiful. Somebody had both skilled hands and a good eye for color mixing. I'm thinking I will sew a tube on the back, and hang it in my hallway, enjoying it every day, the mystery of it, and the connection it brings in unknown ways to my ancestors!

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  5. Robin, was there a laundry in your mother's area, to which she might've taken the quilt? Laundries in our area still ink stamp initials or full names items, help tell one customers stuff from another's.

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    1. That's exactly what I thought when I first saw it, only I was thinking "at the nursing home," and Julie told me they NEVER used it there. So I agree... laundry, and after she married my step-dad. Maybe I'll just have to go with "made by Dottie, used by Mom and Dad after she remarried, marked by laundry." HA!

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  6. Anonymous7:12 PM

    Perhaps your step dad brought it into the marriage. Was he married before? (Does not matter, either way.)

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    1. Nope, he was not married previously... I have not been able to think of anybody in his family who might have made it. But there is someone I can ask... thanks for the idea!

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  7. Your mother had 2 loves in her life. Your father and your step-dad. She also loved this quilt and wanted to continue to use it after she remarried. She put your step-dad's initials on the back for her own reasoning... Maybe the front would always be reserved for your father... but she wanted to feel the connection with your step-dad too when using it.

    Might not be the right answer, but it is a lovely thought.

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Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!