Below are more textiles of early corded and quilted pieces from the Kentucky studio of Eleanor Beard.
Rayon or "artificial silk" quilts reflected a sea change in crib quilts style-wise in the late 1920s-1940s. They never became as widely popular to make, however, as patchwork quilts. Having raised three babies, it strikes me that these were "for show" quilts. In my opinion, no mother in her right mind would want to use them for daily use for they are very slippery.
|Receiving blanket #1|
|Receiving blanket #2|
Quilt historian Cuesta Benberry wrote about Beard's quilting business in "Cottage Industries: A Chronicle," in Quiltmaking in America: Beyond the Myths edited by Laurel Horton and published by AQSG in 1994. Copies are readily available through the AQSG office at a very reasonable price. Click here for contact information. If you enjoy quilt history, this is is a "must have" book.
According to Benberry, the Eleanor Beard Hedgelands Studio of Hardinsburg, Kentucky got its start a result of Eleanor's husband accepting raw wool in return for goods purchased at his general store as he tried to help the cash poor local people get thru hard times. As the story goes, when Eleanor "discovered" this cache of wool in the attic, she saw a business opportunity, had it cleaned and processed, and employed local women to begin making silk comforters in a form we call "wholecloth" quilts today.
Below is a long quote fromAQSG member Xenia Cord that I am using with permission.
(Comments like Xenia's are typical of the exchanges on the American Quilt Study Group history list. Access to the discussion list is one of the perks of membership in the organization.)
|Two sides of a small EB handkerchief bag beautifully corded and quilted |
that recently sold on eBay.
Eventually the market was expanded to include Madison Avenue boutiques,fittings for staterooms on luxury liners, and a commission line for Hollywood stars and others who were well-heeled. .... EBS offerings were commonly done in that beige-peach color seen in corsets and other lingerie, either in silk or rayon. Labels are usual; my understanding is that "Eleanor Beard Studios" came before "Eleanor Beard Incorporated" but I don't know when that shift occurred.
Xenia Cord also mentions Beard in her 1995 paper "Marketing Kit Quilts in the 1920s and 1930s" (pages 139-173) in Uncoverings, the annual volume of quilt research papers published by AQSG.
Click here to some examples of beautiful wholecloth quilt designs available today.
The history of the cottage industries in the Appalachia area is a very interesting study. I highly recommend taking the time to explore the historic Craft Revival and its impact on this area of the country. Although this particular North Carolina website is not addressing Kentucky where Eleanor Beard's business resided, the trials and tribulations surrounding those who were hired to work from their homes during the Craft Revival period were very similar within the greater Appalachia region. Today the history of the craft revival within the Appalachia region continues to stir up discussions of sociological issues as our society ever wrestles with the questions of equal pay and fair play. Eleanor Beard is specifically mentioned in some of this research.
Here are three whole cloth crib quilts from my collection. None has a label. I have another but can't put my hands on the photos yet so will have to add it later.
|40.5 inces by 33 inches. Knife edge finish.|
|The color is a creamy green on one side.|
|This quilt is reversible.|
|Attempting to show you the finished edge.|