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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Wilby, Katharine
Culture:American (1875-1958)
Title:tester
Date Made:1928-1929
Materials:textile: bleached (white) netted cotton; white cotton fringe
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield
Accession Number:  HD 2009.19.2
Credit Line:Gift of the Estate of Viola H. Wilby

Description:
Netted cotton tester (see bedstead, HD 2009.19.1) made by Katharine E. Wilby (1875-1958) of Deerfield. Written on the brown paper bag in which the object was stored: "can be used as measurement. Made by K.E. W. should have been double thread to prevent hole/ Netted tester/ Keep." According to a handwritten list of family objects in the file by Elizabeth Hawks Wells (1845-1938), the wife of George Merritt Wells (1839-1883) of Deerfield: "p. 22. The bedstead - bureau & dressing table in K's room were the furnishings of my grandmother Grandmother Smead ... in the Old Brick house in Shelburne where she went as a bride in 1814. Katharine [Wells] netted the test that adorns the bedstead in 1928- or 1929." Elizabeth Hawks (1799-1858), the daughter of Zadock Hawks (1731-1821) of Deerfield, became the second wife of Elihu Smead (1765-1840) of Shelburne in 1814. The daughter of George Merritt Wells (1839-1883) and Elizabeth Hawks Wells (1845-1938) of Main St., Deerfield, Katharine Wells (1875-1958) married Richard Ingersoll Wilby (1880-1920) in 1908.Netted testers to adorn the tops, or testers, of four poster beds, were introduced into Deerfield's Arts and Crafts industry through Emma Henry (1843-1927), born Lucy Emerine Amidon. She was self taught and influenced later practioners, including Gertrude Cochrane Smith, Rachel Hawks (1887-1977), and Margery Howe. By the middle of the 20th century, many erroneously believed that netted testers like this example recreated earlier, 18th-century examples, when in fact they did not, and were an invention of the Colonial Revival. While the netting technique was old, the practice of decorating testers with netted and notted fringe was a deocrative solutions to four-poster beds still in use where valences and bed curtains were no longer practical or fashionable.

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