In the agrarian household a quilt combined beauty with function. Most were not show pieces. They were used. Quilts varied in weight. It was customary to change quilts with the season. The quilting bee, a group of women working together to quilt a pieced top to its backing, was an important form of social interaction.

Almost every rural farmstead, especially in the nineteenth century, had a quilting frame set up in a room corner. When another woman came to call, it was common for them to spend some time talking over the quilting frame. Quilts have been passed down as family heirlooms for many generations. Each is an individual expression. The same pattern may have hundreds of variations in both color and design. The advent of the sewing machine increased, not decreased the number of quilts being made. Quilts are still being sewn today.

References: American Quilter’s Society, “Gallery of American Quilts, 1849–1988,” Collector Books, 1988; Suzy Anderson, “Collector’s Guide to Quilts,” Wallace–Homestead, 1991; Cuesta Benberry, “Always There: The African–American Presence in American Quilts, The Kentucky Quilt Project,” 1992; Barbara Brackman, “Clues in the Calico: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts,” EPM Publications, 1989; Barbara Brackman, “Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns,” Prairie Flower Publications, 1984; Rachael Cochran, et al., “New Jersey Quilts: 1777 to 1950,” American Quilter’s Society, 1992; Liz Greenbacker and Kathleen Barach, “Quilts: Identification and Price Guide,” Avon Books, 1992; Carter Houck, “The Quilt Encyclopedia Illustrated,” Harry N. Abrams and The Museum of American Folk Art, 1991; William C. Ketchum, Jr, “The Knopf Collectors’ Guides to American Antiques: Quilts,” Alfred A. Knopf, 1982; Jean Ray Laury and California Heritage Quilt Project, “Ho for California: Pioneer Women and Their Quilts,” E. P. Dutton, 1990; Patsy and Myron Orlofsky, “Quilts in America,” Abbeville Press, 1992; Lisa Turner Oshins, “Quilt Collections: A Directory For the United States and Canada,” Acropolis Books, 1987; Rachel and Kenneth Pellman, “The World of Amish Quilts,” Good Books, 1984; Carleton L. Safford and Robert Bishop, “America’s Quilts and Coverlets,” Bonanza Books, 1985; Schnuppe von Gwinner, “The History of the Patchwork Quilt,” Schiffer Publishing, 1988; Thos K. Woodard and Blanche Greenstein, “Classic Crib Quilts and How to Make Them,” Dover Publicaitons, 1993.

by Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”

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