| Sheila Howell

Collecting Vintage Quilts and Bedspreads

Antique quilt | European Finds Antique quilts are both an art form and a historical document. Quilts were made both for functionality - warmth - and beauty. Girls were taught sewing skills from a young age and used their skills to repair household items and to make new items, often for their trousseau:  items they would bring with them when they married to set up their new household. Many patterns are traditional to specific regions and ethnicities. Sewing was an accepted creative outlet for women of all classes and ages and women were often judged on the quality of their pieces. 

Values of antique quilts can range from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Collectors of quilts often focus on a specific pattern or ethnicity or age and look for features such as

  • quality of stitches 
  • how well the fabric is preserved 
  • unique patterns or variations 
  • signatures or identifying marks and dates 

Many antiques and quilts are used today as display pieces to prolong their life and bring beauty to the home. 

Collecting Antique Textiles 
Antique fabrics are irreplaceable. Care should be taken when touching, displaying or storing antique textiles as they are very fragile and easily damaged. Wash hands before touching fragile fabrics because even clean hands can inadvertently transmit soil and cause damage. Many preservationists recommend that white cotton gloves be worn when handling fragile textiles. The Smithsonian has recommendations for storing antique textiles at home

Handmade Pomengrante Quilt from Greece 
On a recent antique sourcing trip to Greece, I stopped in a little shop in Athens, Greece, and discovered a handmade, antique bedspread. The level of work that went into making this one-of-a-kind piece is impressive. It is hand embroidered with natural dyes. The imperfections in workmanship and the way the pattern is not perfectly symmetrical shows its authenticity - notice the variation in the pomegranates. The background color a soft taupe that allows the richness of the embroidery to stand out. For example, the number of pomegranates is not the same from corner to corner.  

Hand Embroidered Bedspread

Pomegranates are rich in history and symbolism - in this case, thought to represent fertility. Greek mythology often depicts the pomegranate and in modern Greece it is used to symbolize abundance, fertility, and good luck. A pomegranate is often gifted when someone buys a new house. 

Originally created as a bedspread, envision it making an ordinary wall a statement wall. It has recently had a back applied to protect it and a pocket at the top to allow for easy hanging and display. 

Circa early 1900.   L 93" W 73"

Our antique quilts and bedspreads at EuropeanFinds would look wonderful in your home! Contact us for questions, or if you're searching for a special piece to add to your collection.