Monday, July 30, 2012

"Made by the Women of Haverhill" A Crazy Quilt, c. 1895

crazy quilt
1. A patchwork quilt of pieces of cloth of various shapes, colors, and sizes, sewn together in an irregular pattern.
2. A disorderly mixture; a hodgepodge

I must confess that I am not generally a fan of the "crazy quilt" but this particular one captured my eye and my imagination. There is a lush, almost regal quality to the fabrics and the various monograms of the women who created the quilt. In fact, the letters are reminiscent of the "floriated" letters of Medieval illuminated manuscripts - richly and abundantly embellished, starting off the page or the story. 

Indeed, more than a number of other quilts viewed over many years, it is the combination of the monograms with the survival of dozens of handwritten labels, pinned onto the patchwork, which seem to suggest a storied pattern from the past.

Haverhill is a small town in northern New Hampshire, parts of the landscape roll down into fields and farm lands to the Connecticut River and one can view Vermont from several vistas.  Next year, 2013 will be one of celebration as the town commemorates its 250th anniversary, along with its twin, across the river, Newbury, VT.  By the time the women of Haverhill crafted this vibrant piece around 1895, the hamlet had passed its glory days - the days of extensive hustle and bustle of factories -- wood and grist mills, distillery, tannery and carriage manufacture. The activity which surrounded the court sessions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, turning every home lining the graceful double common into a hostelry sheltering visitors from around the region, passed by. It was the railway which made its stop in nearby Woodsville, excluding the Oliverian and Haverhill Corner, which dealt the most serious blow. But the families held on. 

At the moment, the author has yet to uncover what event prompted the making of the quilt, but it was donated to the Haverhill Historical Society in 1978 by Nan Batchelder Boyer, and how appreciative one is of this gift.

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D.
University of New Hampshire
Consulting Curator

Ariel Myers, Plymouth State University
Collections Intern

Friday, July 27, 2012

16 July 1793 - Ephraim Metcalf Purchases a Felt Hat

Last week, while working on the publication of an article on Haverhill, NH resident, General John Montgomery (1764-1825) and his 1793 Daybook, I focused on the purchases made in his store 249 years ago. (To put life in Haverhill into a larger world context, on July 17th 1793, Charlotte Corday was executed under the guillotine for the assassination of Jacobin Jean Paul Marat during the French Reign of Terror. News of this, and other significant events, would not reach American shores until September.)  In north country New Hampshire, most of the purchases made on this Tuesday, July 16th 1793 were typical of a weekday in this small, but important court town: West Indies rum, tea, and butter.

The largest purchase that day was made by Piermont resident, Ephraim Metcalf (born about 1770 in Cheshire, NH. died 8 April 1858 in Newbury, VT.) and consisted predominantly of textiles, although he also purchased a hymn and psalmbook for 3 shillings. He purchased linen, shoe buckles, a skein of silk and, a felt hat. The hat cost him six shillings, which was the approximately equivalent of two days work throughout the region.

At the time of the purchase, Metcalf (also spelled Medcalf) was about 22-23 years of age, and perhaps this purchase relates to a significant family event - wedding or baptism. The oldest child of Piermont residents Burgess and Jerusha Metcalf, family genealogy notes Ephraim's marriage to "Martha" about 1791. Further, the purchase of linen, perhaps for shirts, cost nearly a week's wage. The particular items may indicate that Metcalf  had completed an apprenticeship or acquired some level of training. As a married man (or soon to be married) he may have  been a man of business, establishing himself within the community with the appropriate "furnishings." 

Mentions of shoe buckles and felt hats as part of male adornments and accessories appear with some frequency during the 14 months covered by the Daybook, demonstrating the importance of such items for the male wardrobe. Thus far, all felt hats purchased in General Montgomery's store have cost 6 shillings; in one instance, a hat was returned for not fitting properly.

There are many excellent sources on line for historic men's hats:'s%20Hats/18th%20Century%20Hats/index.html

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D.
University of New Hampshire, Durham

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pink Granite Grange Quilt, 1928

As Consulting Curator to the Haverhill Historical Society and as part of the Collections Care initiative, Collections Intern, Ariel Myers of Plymouth State University and I recently examined a quilt from North Haverhill, NH. Completed c. 1928, it is an autograph quilt from the Pink Granite Grange, founded in 1894. Despite the fact that some portions are damaged, it is nonetheless a significant reminder of local gatherings and pride in achievement. As communities all across the country celebrate with county and town fairs over the next few months, looking at historic and contemporary examples of quilting is especially rewarding.

This grange quilt features the "autographs"  of both men and women and couples. (A list of names is available in the HHS.) Centrally located within a square of pink and red cherries, the inscription notes, with an almost palpable pride, "Pink Granite Grange, North Haverhill, NH. Founded 1894." The quilt reveals who pieced the quilt and who wrote the autographs for participants, Max Robinson. Further, there are welcomes and greetings from the several committees including the Agriculture Committee and the Home and Community Welfare Committee. While the layout of the squares is deceptively simple, the use of visually strong printed cotton patterns of the 1920s is what makes the quilt so visually compelling. The graphic strength of the black and white prints- florals, gingham, stripes - juxtaposed with the pale lavenders, pinks, and blues harmonize to create an attractive whole, appealing to the contemporary eye.

Several other quilts, including a "crazy quilt" survive in the HHS collection and will be the subject of future posts.

If you are interested in contemporary quilts, don't forget to visit the North Haverhill Fair and the Stoddard Building for excellent examples by 4H youth this week.

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire
Ariel Myers, Plymouth State University

All images courtesy the Haverhill Historical Society Museum
Gift of the Pink Granite Grange

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mid Summer Vintage Style & Shoe Round Up

The last month has provided an unparalleled opportunity to visit a number of textile and costume collections, research new topics and recover forgotten documents and artifacts.  A visual journey to share....

From top:
Colonel Paul Wentworth House, Loan Collection, Adornments
University of New Hampshire, Bowen Collection, Detail
The Diary of a Mantua Maker, Georgian Shoe construction
Suzani boots, Meyra, Newburyport, MA
Sampler detail, 1825, Haverhill Historical Society
Colonel Paul Wentworth House, Loan Collection, Adornments, hair combs & hair pin
Emma Hope Shoes, brocade and paste buckles, for "Thread"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Press Release: Emma Hope, London Shoe Designer Featured in Upcoming Symposia

Press Release:

1. Emma Hope, slingback with paste buckle, 2011 Thread Collection
2. Emma Hope, mule with pasts buckle, 2011 Thread Collection
3. Ridout & Davis, London, c. 1760s, courtesy, Peabody Essex Museum,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fantastic Fantasy Summer Shoes by Thea Cadabra

While this is a bit of a departure for Footcandy Friday,  thoughts of my upcoming trip to London for the Fashioning the City conference at the Royal College of Art in September and reflecting on summer looks in general, led me to the  creations of shoe design diva, Thea Cadabra.
Shoes on currently on view at

For more information about Thea Cadabra, see

Friday, July 13, 2012

Victorian Adornments: Lecture Reminder July 19th, 7:00

“Adornments,” an exhibit of fashionable accessories from the Victorian era, will be on display at the Colonel Paul Wentworth House in Rollinsford through the month of July.  The exhibit features jewelry, fans, handbags, parasols, capes and other items worn by ladies of the Abbott-Goodwin family of Massachusetts from the 1830s through the early 1900s.  The collection is on loan from South Berwick resident Jean Demetracopoulos.
An illustrated lecture and guided tour of the exhibit will be presented on Thursday evening, July 19 at 7 pm by Julia Roberts and Tara Vose, curators of the exhibit.  Admission to the lecture and tour is $5 for the general public and free to ARCH members.

Illustration: Courtesy of Jean Demetracopoulos, Collection of Fans, c. mid-late19th century