Mailing List:2003-08-18 02, RE: Counterpanes and Coverlets, by Brenda Gallaher

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Mailing List Archives > 2003-08-18 02, RE: Counterpanes and Coverlets, by Brenda Gallaher

From: "Gallaher, Brenda ." <BGallahe -at- usoe.k12.ut.us> Subject: RE: [WHITNEY-L] Counterpanes and Coverlets Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 09:01:18 -0600 Dear All: This must be where I get my love of quilts. Certainly not from my mother's side of the family for she couldn't even sew. So it must be Daddy's side of the family [Whitneys]. Brenda B. B. Gallaher, Section Secretary USOE, Evaluation and Assessment 250 East 500 South P.O. Box 144200 Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200 801-538-7836 bgallahe -at- usoe.k12.ut.us -----Original Message----- From: karl h schwerin -at- unm.edu Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2003 10:36 AM To: WHITNEY-L -at- rootsweb.com Subject: [WHITNEY-L] Counterpanes and Coverlets __Everyday Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony__, by George Francis Dow, originally published in 1935 by The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, but republished in 1988 by Dover Publications Chapter IV. Counterpanes and Coverlets (pp. 53-59) "In the early days our forefathers were dependent upon the open fireplace and during the winter season everyone must wear thick clothing and provide an ample supply of warm coverings for the beds. Those were the days of warming pans and heated bricks taken to bed by both children and grown-ups, and of feather beds, comforters and patchwork quilts" (53). The patchwork quilt reaches far back into the past, it was known in the days of King John. It was brought to the Massachusetts Bay by the first settlers. "In the early days the English spelled quilt with a final e-quilte-as did the French. It is a cover or coverlet made by stitching together two thicknesses of fabric with some soft substance between them." "In early times the pieces were nearly always of a woolen fabric, the brighter colored cloth being saved for the more central portions of the design. Every scrap and remnant of material left from the making of garments was saved and the best pieces of worn-out garments were carefully cut out and made into quilt pieces. Portions of discarded military uniforms, of flannel shirts and well-worn petticoats were utilized and frequently an old blanket would be used for lining" (53, 58-59). A coverlet is any covering for a bed, specifically the outer covering. The word comes from the French couvre-lit-a bed covering. The hand woven coverlet was more often a product of the country, whereas in the towns finer products were imported from England. "The counterpane is a light coverlet woven of cotton with raised figures. The word is a corruption of counterpoint, in allusion to the panes or squares of which bed covers are often composed. The counterpane was never quilted." The bedspread and bed cover are the same thing-the uppermost covering of a bed, and are thus usually ornamental. The comforter was a thickly quilted bed cover made of several thicknesses of sheet cotton or wool. It was too thick to be quilted, so was generally knotted at regular intervals to prevent the lining from slipping (54). Bedding also included blankets, pillows and bolsters. "In the days immediately following the settlement many a New England bed was covered with a rug." The term was as common as coverlet, while quilts are rarely mentioned (54). In the early days a bed was often set up in the parlor, and they were furnished with many different kinds of rugs. There was also a great variety of beds: "high beds and side beds, canopy bedsteads, half-headed, joined, cabin, corded, close, press, standing, truckle and trundle bedsteads." Yet not a single example of any of these survives to this day (55, 57). Karl SchwerinSnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131 e-mail: schwerin -at- unm.edu Cultural anthropology...is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering the normal. Edward Sapir (1949:151)


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