Sunday, July 22, 2012

Turquoise or Mint Green? Fabrics of 1870s-80s


I was drawn to this quilt top because I personally seldom see this shade of green in quilts prior to the 20th century. For certain I have never seen one made predominantly of this color in the 1800s. I wonder why that is? It's a lovely color and very "modern" looking.  In this top it is beautifully contrasted with pinks and browns and rusts with just a little red. I'd date this 1870s-1880s.

Barbara Brackman refers to it as Nile Green or Caledon Jade Green in Issue #11 (Jan 17, 2010) of her newsletter "The Quilt Detective" Prints, Colors and Dyes".  She writes that Log Cabin and Charm quilts were full of them but, again, I personally haven't seen a lot of this particular green in quilts. Other greens seem much more common than Mint Green or Nile Green or Caledon Jade Green in the 1800s. I guess that is why this top caught my eye instantly.

See page 89 of Eileen Jahnke Trestain's book "Dating Fabrics : A Color guide 1880-1960" as well. You can also see a hint of this color in the 1830s and 1840s but it was much more subtle than the "brightness" of the Mint Green in this top, and, according to Brackman, had a very different dye source than that of the 1880s Mint Green.

























As I read all the comments that are being left about this post, I am beginning to question my perception of this color!

So, I decided to google "turquoise" and "mint green" and compare.  I have to admit, it's a close call but after further review, I agree with Patricia Cummings. It looks more turquoise..




Of course, we all know that every era seems to create its own name for various colors. You know the game, I say potato, you say "patato".





























Can you see the tiny "patching/seaming" in these photos this quilter did to create a whole square out of odds and ends of tiny pieces of fabric?










22 comments:

  1. I always referred to this green as nile green when looking at an antique quilt...mint green is what I would say of something today. never really realized that until you just wrote this post! Love the quilt and I love seeing the fabrics up close, thanks! as always informative post , I love learning about quilts and always enjoy your posts
    Kathie

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    1. Hi Kathie, Yes, I "officially" call it Nile Green now, thanks to Barbarab Brackman. But before I learned this term about 1-20 years ago, I referred to it as Mint Green bc that is what non-quilt historians can most readily relate to when you try to describe it.

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  2. I have seen this green occasionally in late 19th quilts. Often, just a couple small pieces. Your top has a great variety of prints and so much green! the discussions I have had about it say it was produced around the centennial.

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    1. Hi Ann, Do you have any examples of this green among your collections of quilts, tops and fabric samples? I'd love to see them.

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  3. love that top!!
    where is it from?
    beautiful variety of faabrics

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    1. Tim, it simply came from an eBay dealer in CA. Sad, but no further info.

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  4. So pretty! Old quilts are so timeless. I could look at all the prints forever.

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  5. What a beauty! And so many fabulous prints in it, too! Love it! Thanks for all the close-ups.....it's a real study!

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    1. I hope to gradually show more fabrics in my collection bc they are such a great way to train one's eye. And I so love seeing close ups of fabrics on other blogs as well!

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  6. What a great view of vintage fabrics. I love how the piecer put some of the prints on point. What a study in prints, there are so many in this top and it looks to be in great condition. Thanks for sharing so many photos.

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    1. Sharon, this woman was an extremely good seamstress to boot. This is all hand pieced. She even hand pieced some of the tinniest snippets within a single little square. i must show you some of those examples, too.

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  7. I have a couple of tops I bought in Lowell, MA back in the 80's with this green in it...I'll try and post this week. It does jump out at you doesn't it!

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  8. I don't think I have any with that shade of green either, now that you pointed it out. Unusual. Is this one in your collection?

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    1. Yes, just recently added to my collection.

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  9. thank you for this informative piece! I will now be looking harder at my earlier quilts, I don't remember seeing this color, but I may have missed it. I wonder why so little of this color was used?

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  10. Personally, I would call the color "Turquoise" the color you are referring to as "Nile Green."

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    1. I may be mis-speaking, Pat, by using a 20th century term to describe a 19th century fabric color. It would be interesting to hear from a couple of appraiser to see what they have been trained to call it. See my further edits in the body of the post to reflect your suggestion about turquoise.

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  11. Enjoyed your close up photos of the fabrics. Cool stuff.

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  12. We have seen many scrap quilts in Maine with this color green from the 1870’s to 1890’s. We have documented many “charm” quilts that almost always contains one or more fabrics in this particular green. For a long time we thought that it might even have some significant meaning, but now we believe it is simply because it was not all that popular a color. Most of them are made up of hundreds of different madders and double pinks. We saw one charm quilt with over 220 different double pink prints in it! To me it is more of a soft teal and not what I think of as 1930’s Nile green. I have never seen a quilt using this much of this wonderful color. I will ask around to my other Maine cohorts.

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    1. Please do check with your friends. I would like to know what color name others are using for it.

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