Who would have thought that a coverlet handwoven 175 years ago would be as durable and as warm today as the day it was made? That’s the bonus of antique blankets and coverlets, they are historic and remain handsome and absolutely usable today despite their remarkable age. What's more, they contribute an individualized look to décor, a visual distinction that elevates their utilitarian purpose.
NYC Americana dealer Laura Fisher has a varied collection of overshot coverlets, blankets, double cloth coverlets and jacquard coverlets in various colors that date from the 1830s through the 1860s. This was the high period of American coverlet production in states such as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, before the Industrial Revolution generated store bought home furnishings that replaced the homespun.
Whether home woven in geometric patterns in narrow panels sewn together, or created by professional weavers on then-innovative jacquard looms in the second quarter of the 19th century, the American coverlets extant today retain colors as fresh as when first made and are skillfully, densely woven. Their homespun wool wefts on usually cotton warps remain durable and are easy to maintain if they had been properly tended over the centuries.
With rich natural dyes of indigo, reds and earth tones, coverlet patterns and technology variations are explored in books such as Keep Me Warm at Night and the Checklist of American Coverlet Weavers. Such research endorses the intrinsic value of these historic textiles that we respond to first based on their visual appeal.
Fisher has sold coverlets to museums, collectors and to architects and designers who prefer distinctive textiles for interiors. Among the varied weaves in inventory now are:
- jacquard coverlets by weavers such as James Alexander, William Craig, Harry Tyler, James Impson, and others who often signed their own and their client's names in corner blocks, enabling geneological research. Named recipients include Julia Rockefeller, Edna Howell, Maria Russell, etc.
- double cloth coverlets whose principal color reverses from the primary darker shade to the lighter secondary shade on the other, encouraging year round use
- overshot weaves, some in simple geometrics and others in more complex graphics created with multi harness looms
- fine blankets in classic American indigo and white or red and white.
Contact Fisher for photos of available coverlets and to make an appointment to see them in person. Gallery hours can be arranged any day including weekends until 7:00 p.m.
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY in Chelsea
, New York