Made by Katherine Shely Fretzlen, this centennial quilt was a product of the 1876 trend of women making items to commemorate the nation’s 100th birthday.
The piecing is all plain silks, mostly taffeta, in red, yellow and black and, to a lesser extent, blue, green and gray. The corners surrounding the main hexagon feature elaborate floral embroidery done in ombre, or variegated, thread. The center of the main hexagon features the American eagle holding a flag in its beak and an olive branch in its talons. Above the large hexagon is one pair of crossed flags saying “1776,” and below the hexagon is another pair of crossed flags saying “1876.” (See detail photo.)
Although evidence is lost, the donor’s family reports to the DAR Museum that the quilt was exhibited and received a medal at the 1876 centennial exposition in Philadelphia. More than 8 million people attended the six-month exhibition celebrating 100 years of American cultural and industrial progress.
Volume 143, Number 4, July/August 2009, Page 6
Photo by Mark Gulezian/Quicksilver