The Saltonstall Quilt

Possibly the earliest surviving American quilt dated 1704

The Saltonstall Quilt from Massachusetts is the earliest surviving American quilt…or is it?   It is dated from 1704 by the paper filler, which included pieces of the 1701 Harvard College catalog (Orlofsky).  This quilt, pictured above, was pieced together from very small pieces of silk, velvet, and brocade.  Undoubtedly, this evidences the necessity to use even the smallest fabric remnants because of the scarcity of fabric.  Looking closely, one can see two-and four-patch patterns.  It is not quilted. 

But is it really the earliest surviving American quilt?  Actually, this date is in question as some of the cover’s textiles are thought to be from the mid- to late 19th century.  However, for me, this theory leads to some questions.  For example, this would mean that the paper filler from 1701 was found and deemed still usable in the mid 19th century.  Surely, that is not plausible.  

On the other hand, it is possible that the Saltonstall Quilt does date from 1701, but needed “patching” or repairing in the mid- to late 19th century.  And so, the restorers had to use the fabrics available at the time. 

No matter the real date of origin, we must agree that it is an amazing quilt.  The workmanship and the patience it took to make it are admirable.  

Reference::  Orlofsky, Patsy and   Myron. Quilts in America. New  York: McGraw Hill Book Co., 1974.

See also: 

What do you think?

*Cookies are disabled on comments made on posts.  Your email address will not be displayed.  By submitting this form, you consent to having this website temporarily store your submitted information solely for the purpose of responding to your message.