Postage Stamp Quilt Top
Unidentified Quilt Maker
70 x 76 inches
Origin Unknown; Found in Pennsylvania
With thousands of pieces about the size of an American quarter, this late 19th century quilt top is ready for its next life.
The little squares are all cotton and are a virtual dictionary of what kinds of materials were available to everyday American women at the end of the 19th century ~ madder prints, indigo, red and even ONE solid cheddar(or GOLD) piece.
This quilt is not alone in containing just one gold piece... there are many that have been found. There's an as-yet-undocumented theory that by placing a SINGLE piece of gold in a quilt of billions of pieces, a woman may have been expressing her opinion on the remarkably lively debate regarding the Gold Standard at just this time.(See third photo.)
Here's more about that for those who would like to understand more about the controversy and how widespread it was in the 1890's.
From the Cambridge University Press: "In the 1890s, questions about whether to base the American currency upon gold or silver dominated public discourse and eventually forced a realignment of the political parties. The matter often confuses modern observers, who have trouble understanding how such a technically complex—even arcane—issue could arouse such passions. The fact that no major nation currently backs its currency with precious metal creates the suspicion that the issue was a “red herring” that distracted from matters of far greater importance. Yet the rhetoric surrounding the “Battle of the Standards” indicates that the more sophisticated advocates of both sides understood that, in the financial context of the 1890s, the contest between gold and silver not only had important economic implications but would substantially affect the future development of the United States."