Baltimore Album Quilts

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Baltimore Album quilts are some of the most elaborate and visually arresting bed covers ever constructed. They appeared quite suddenly in the 1840s and vanished as the Civil War grew imminent around 1860.

These quilts set a standard for skillful use of fabrics and techniques rarely matched in any category of American decorative arts. Baltimore women combined applique, piecing, and chintz cutouts to create pastoral scenes, monuments, ships, and patriotic regalia. They stitched layer upon layer of printed and shaded calicoes to depict wreaths, baskets, and vases of realistic flowers, fruits, trees, and animals.  These motifs often were enhanced with padding, embroidery, and inked details.  The craze for this new type of women’s artistry quickly spread to areas around Baltimore and then to wider communities of quiltmakers with the requisite expertise.  Rarely equaled in form and beauty, Baltimore Albums continue to inspire quiltmakers to emulate their inventive and richly colored designs.    

Baltimore Album Designer I, mature style, c. 1850 - Made by Mary Simon & Elizabeth Sliver - C. Erickson collection