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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Patchwork quilt: "sawtooth album block" pattern
Date: ca. 1861
Medium: Cotton: hand-quilted; pieced
Dimensions: 83 x 81 in. (210.8 x 205.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Stanley J. O'Connor, in memory of Janet O'Connor
Object Number: 2011.062
Label Text: HOW WAS IT MADE?
The quilt was made for John Ryno by his aunt Jennie Rappleye and friends and relations in Farmerville, NY, now Interlaken. The pattern blocks were probably pieced by Jennie, and then signed in ink by family members and friends. The finished quilt top was placed on a fabric backing, with batting between the layers, and hand quilted together. The quilting may have been done as a group project, as was often the case with nineteenth century quilts.

Bed quilts provided warmth, and decoration for the home. Signature and friendship quilts also served to preserve relationships and human connections. Made by family members and friends, they were given to people to commemorate important events such as marriage and leaving home to go to war; to honor respected teachers and community members; to document family history; and even to chronicle political events. Most popular during the middle of the nineteenth century, many of these quilts survived because they were treasured mementos, and were spared the rigors of daily use.

The design of signature and album quilts--composed of pieced blocks repeated across the surface, bearing names and declarations of love and friendship--are reminiscent of the pages of the ubiquitous autograph albums of the 1830s and 1840s. The white reserves in the center of the sawtooth album blocks, and other patterns such as Irish Chain, were ideal for displaying signatures and written inscriptions. There are twenty-five pattern blocks in this quilt with handwritten signatures and a center block in beautiful calligraphy that reads: “Presented to John L. Ryno by Jennie Rappleye and his other friends in Farmerville.”

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.