Album Quilt

Possibly made by the members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellowsand the Rebekah

Geography:
Made in Stanford, New York, United States, North and Central America

Date:
1853

Medium:
Printed and solid cotton plain weave with appliqué of printed, solid, and glazed cotton plain weave, wool twill, silk velvet, cotton velveteen, silk satin, and plain weave silk; wool, silk, and cotton embroidery in chain, buttonhole, stem, cross, satin, and herringbone stitches; glass beads; ink; quilted with cotton thread

Dimensions:
87 x 87 inches (221.0 x 221.0 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
2001-204-1

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Elizabeth Albert, 2001

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Label:
Album quilts were very popular in the mid-nineteenth century, valued as expressions of affection and friendship. In this example, forty-eight blocks are inscribed with the names and initials of the family and friends of Richard H. Mosher. The center block is appliquéd with three intersecting links, representing friendship, love, and truth, symbols of the fraternal Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Some of the quilt blocks also contain symbolic references to this fellowship, while others may be based on popular prints of the period, including the little girl Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin published in 1852, kittens playing with balls of yarn, a log cabin, and soldiers on horseback.

Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    During the mid-nineteenth century, the album quilt reached the height of its popularity; its embroidered or appliquéd blocks with signatures were meant to resemble pages from the pictorial, remembrance, and autograph albums that were common at the time and valued as expressions of affection and friendship. The Museum holds a significant collection of these quilts, including important examples from the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas dating primarily from the 1840s. This quilt from Stanford, New York, is dated 1853 and made up of blocks contributed and signed by the family and friends of Richard H. Mosher. It is the first figurative album quilt to enter the Museum’s holdings.

    Forty-eight blocks surround a center block that is appliquéd with three intersecting links representing friendship, love, and truth, symbols of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The first American branch of this fraternal organization, which originated in eighteenth-century England, was founded in Baltimore in 1819. Guided by their belief in the brotherhood of man, Odd Fellows saw it as their duty to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphaned. Their wives and daughters were also offered a means of supporting these principles with the establishment of the Rebekah degree in 1851. This quilt contains blocks with symbolic references to the Odd Fellowship and the Rebekah degree, such as the moon and stars and the dove. Some of the more topical motifs, possibly based on popular prints of the period, include an image of Topsy from the recently published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, kittens playing with balls of yarn, a log cabin, and soldiers on horseback.

    Initial research has established that Mosher, a laborer and a member of the Society of Friends, died in 1854, a year after the quilt was presented to him. According to the Odd Fellows manual of 1865, Quakers were doubly honored because of their support of the poor. Dilys Blum, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 67.