To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s anniversary on the throne, NYC antiques dealer Laura Fisher of FISHER HERITAGE has gathered a sumptuous selection of antique quilts from England and the commonwealth, quilts pieced in English techniques, quilts made using English chintzes, and coverlets woven by British weavers. Pay homage to her majesty at the same time as you select a handsome antique textile to accent your own interior.
English template piecing techniques and glorious printed chintz fabrics are among the traditions of English quilt making that migrated to the American colonies with 18th century settlers. English fabrics were later imported to U.S. eastern seaboard cities and eagerly transformed into fine appliqué and pieced quilts that showcased the maker’s wealth and handiwork. We owe a debt to England for such an enduring textile heritage.
Quilting was a skill honed among women in England and the commonwealth that travelled well. In commonwealth nations like Wales, Ireland, Canada, and Australia a distinctive variety of bedcovers developed that is recognizable even if the country of origin is unidentified. For example, Welsh quilts, especially whole cloth examples, have motifs of swirls, circles, and curves that differ from American quilting. The Irish and Welsh made precise ‘strippy’ quilts using lengths of printed cottons distinctive from American cloth. Hexagon piecing was constructed using stiff paper templates to hold the mosaic or honeycomb shape and is plentiful in surviving 19th century English quilts.
Among the most cherished quilts anywhere are early examples fashioned with imported English chintz. Some are geometric patterns, and rarer examples feature cut out floral and organic printed elements that were appliquéd to a white background, a technique called Broderie Perse and found now mostly in museum pieces.
In the early 19th century, English and Scotch weavers themselves emigrated to the U.S. and settled places like New Britain, New York, to weave coverlets in wool and cotton, many inscribed with the name of the owner or weaver in the corner block. Their artisanship produced curvilinear and pictorial motifs on jacquard looms that retain their sumptuousness more than 150 later. You can find jacquard coverlets by James Alexander and other British weavers, pieced and whole cloth quilts made with English sewing techniques and fabrics, as well as actual English and Welsh quilts, among Fisher’s varied selections. Do stop in at FISHER HERITAGE to satisfy your urge to replicate the fervor for British goods that also motivated 19th century shoppers.
FISHER HERITAGE hours:
Monday–Friday usually from 11 to 4, other times by appointment. Closed weekends
Contact: Laura Fisher
305 East 61st Street New York, NY 10065
t/ 212.838-2596 cell/ 917.797-1260