Flowers on an 1848 Quilt

bluebars(7 MD)July 30, 2003

I have an antique quilt dated 1848, in sad condition, which I am reproducing and making patterns. While naming each of the 25 blocks, I have researched flowers which would have been available at that time. But this one has me stumped. Any ideas what this flower might represent?

Here is a picture of the original block Antique and here is a picture of my reproduction block New.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

One possibility is Aquilegia canadensis, or wild columbine.

The center yellow and outer red sepals are the same color. In the wild the flower hangs down, but if spread out it would look like the styalized representation on the quilt.

A. canadensis is native to the northern US, but you can see how far south it goes in the following link.

I also encourage you to go to and enter....Aquilegia canadensis.... to see many other pix of it, and then draw your own conclusions.

Do you know the geographic location of the origin of this quilt?


Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Columbine ( A. canadensis)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2003 at 10:19PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

Wild Columbine! Wonderful!
Having grown columbine in gardens as a child, I was only familiar with a blue variety of columbine. Thanks for introducing me to the wild columbine. Now I MUST get some seed to plant along our wood's edge for the hummingbirds and butterflies.
The quilt was most likely made in MD/PA (maybe VA) area. During that era, many quilts were made with a predominant red/green/yellow color scheme with the German influences. The other 24 blocks are very complex with baskets, cornucopia, wreaths and whorls of floral bouquets, birds, etc. The designs are similar in style but slightly preceding the era of the colorful and exquisite "Baltimore Album" quilts of the 1850-1860's. It has been fun researching and identifying the flowers that a quilter would have used in her quilt of that time.
And the native Wild Columbine would certainly have been in gardens of that time and place.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2003 at 9:03AM
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I just happened upon this post and when I looked at the quilt the very first flower that popped into my mind was Columbine.
It comes in so many combinations of colors.
You are so lucky to have such a treasure.
I have a quilt top my Great Grandmother made around the Civil War era.
It is just very small blocks--nothing like your beautiful intricate flowers.
I wasn't able to see your new reproduction block.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2004 at 1:16PM
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When I looked at the block, the only thing I could come up with was poinsettias. It was around the 1840s that Joel Poinsett, our ambassador to Mexico, sent some plants back. A Philadelphia nurseryman quickly made them popular. They have red petal-like bracts and yellow centers. The leaf on your quilt does not look much like a poinsettia leaf--but it doesn't look like a columbine leaf either. Maybe it's just a stylized, generic leaf--and so may be the flower. But just lovely, whatever it is.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 12:15PM
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Jennifer_Ruth(Z 10, Sunset Z 23)

I looked at the picture before I read the other posts, and I too thought it was a columbine.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 8:48PM
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DianaRose(z5, Illinois)

What a beautiful quilt block. I'm a quilter as well as a gardener, and am delighted that you are making a reproduction of this beautiful antique. Thanks for sharing it. Diana

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 12:36PM
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This is an absolutely beautiful antique quilt.
What an honor for you to have it and to reproduce
it for other future generations. I'm also a quilter
and a flower lover. The flower that comes to mind
when I see this block is shooting stars. Enjoy!
Jan B

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 9:28PM
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I'm adding the link to Shooting stars for you to see.
I tried sending a note in your webshots, but it didn't seem
to go through for some reason.
Here is the link,
This is the shooting star that I think the flowers look like, Take a peek and see what you think. Here's the link.

Just incase that link was too long, here is a shorter one,

Jan B

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 12:33PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

I did get the message from Webshots! I'm glad you sent it there--I thought the post had fallen off the board by now so I had not looked at this post in a long time! Thanks so much for responding to my question. It really does look like shooting stars. I read that "Padre's Shootingstar" is native to California and Mexico. Could that plant have found its way to a New England garden in 1848? (I wish I'd paid more attention in high school history class!) Yes, according to Patricia Crews in "A Flowering of Quilts" p.12 ...the importation of South American and Mexican tropical plants, such as nasturtiums and zinnias, in mid-century created a taste for brilliantly colored, exotic flower beds ... And as exotic flowers became popular in garden beds, they also begain to appear in the quilts of the time ...
Columbine would have been popular too, but now I think it might be shootingstar!
Here is a link to the new block with new fabrics.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Block A4

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 1:28PM
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reginak(z7 Maryland)

For some reason it makes me think of portulaca. Especially the foliage. I don't suppose it would have been familiar in 1848 though.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 12:57PM
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