Stylistically, this type of quilt is inspired by or modeled on the Baltimore Album Quilts which were particularly popular between 1845 and 1855. The quilts were made as presentation pieces for brides, ministers or prominent members of the community. Each block is signed with the name of the maker, or, if the individual was not particularly skilled with a needle, they could have someone else make their block. The Sardis Methodist Church was the social center for members of this community in the mid-19th century, and this quilt may have been made for the minister of that church or to raise money for a church project. Of the forty-one signed blocks, twenty one are signed by men and twelve by women. Considering the large number of men identified on this quilt, it is unlikely all of them stitched their own block and more likely they gave money to the project in return for someone making their block. The quilt is finely made with simple yet elegant and even quilting in the diamond pattern. The binding securing the edges is a separate piece of fabric, a procedure requiring twice the amount of stitching than lapping the backing over the edges. Each block carries a different design, most of the plants found in the Deep South—pecan, pear, fig, sassafras, sweet gum and watermelon—the Tree of Knowledge near the top, which also includes a calico serpent. The American Flag is rarely a reliable way to date a quilt and is more often used decoratively. In this case the handsome flag fluttering at the center has eleven stripes rather than its thirteen, and instead of the thirty-two stars it should have for an 1858 flag, it has thirty.
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- Titles Album Quilt (Descriptive)
- Artist Mt. Hebron community, Greene County, Alabama, United States
- Medium appliqued solid cottons on muslin backing
- Dimensions 90 x 104 in. (228.6 x 264.2 cm)
- Credit Line Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Gift of Helen and Robert Cargo, AFI.56.2006
- Work Type quilt
- Classification Quilts
- Signature Forty one of the blocks are signed with the name or initials of the makers
- Marks None
- Inscription None
- Provenance Community of Mount Hebron, Greene County, Alabama; by tradition presented to Lewis Lanford (born 1844 or 1850), Greene County, Alabama, in 1872; thence by descent; purchased by Robert and Helen Cargo, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1970; by gift to the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art in 2006