Album Quilt

Made by Sarah Lawson Flickwir, American, 1811 - 1863

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Cotton plain weave with block and roller-printed chintz appliqué; herringbone quilting; drawing, stamping, inscriptions, and signatures in ink

7 feet 7 1/2 inches × 7 feet 8 inches (232.4 × 233.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. F. Willard Wood in memory of Mrs. Frank W. Wood, née Rebecca Williamson Flickwir, 1952

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Additional information:
  • PublicationNineteenth-Century Appliqu� Quilts

    In A Treatise on Domestic Economy of 1841, Catharine Beecher spoke of the urgency of preserving friendship in "this migratory and business Nation," for "if a very little of the time and money spent for the luxuries of food, dress, and furniture, were devoted to perpetuating family friendships, how much more elevated and purer enjoyments would be secured!" Over half of those who signed this friendship quilt made by Sarah Flickwir, daughter of Jeremian Flickwir, a Philadelphia carpenter, and his wife Jemima, were members of her extended family, including the Flickwirs, Williamsons, sparks, Donaldsons, Wests, Crozers, Taylors, and Burtons.

    Like signing an album, autographing a quilt was a symbol of affection and friendship and, when combined with inscriptions of religious verse, also of Christian commitment. Some of the signatures and inscriptions on this quilt were written in in ink by hand; others were stenciled or stamped with manufactured metal stamps that included type surrounded by designs such as hearts, flowers, and lovebirds. In 1864 Godey's Lady's Book published instructions for an autograph quilt, and suggested stretching the pieces to be signed over a card to make a smooth surface for writing in indelible ink. Silk made the "handsomest" writing surface, while linen was thought to be the "best."

    Godey's also recommended selecting a quilting pattern that would leave the inscriptions free from stitches, a directive that has been followed intermittently in the herringbone-patterned Flickwir quilt. The appliqués are English block- and roller-printed textiles, most dating from 1835-1840. The pheasant and plum tree motif was originally block printed about 1815 and proved to be among the most enduring; the roller-printed version used here was produced in 1835. This design as well as several others, including the red and white zinnias and the peacock on a pedestal, appear in other quilts with a local provenance in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see 1962-44-1 and 1941-109-1). The layout of this quilt, with a central chintz appliqué wreath surrounded by squares with chintz appliqué, is also similar to that of others made in the Philadelphia-Trenton area in the early 1840s. Dilys Blum, from Nineteenth-Century Appliqué Quilts, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), p. 22.

    1. Catharine E. Beecher, A Treatise on Domestic Economy, for the Use of Young Ladies at Home, and at School (1841; reprint, New York, 1970), p. 267.
    2. "Autograph Bedquilt," Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine (April 1864), pp. 387-88.