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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):Stillson Benevolent Society
Date Made:ca. 1850
Materials:textile: polychrome printed, plain weave cotton, bleached (white) plain weave cotton; ink
Place Made:United States; Connecticut; Greenwich
Measurements:overall: 99 3/4 in x 97 1/2 in; 253.365 cm x 247.65 cm
Accession Number:  HD F.602

Friendship or presentation quilt in the Mariner's Compass, Sunburst or Chips and Whitestones pattern done in plain weave, printed cottons primarily in reds, yellows and greens, which is inscribed in ink on the back of the quilt in the lower, right corner: "Mrs. Rev. Mark Mead / presented by / Stillson Benevolent Society." The quilt has a three-piece, bleached, plain weave cotton backing; cotton batting; and five cotton loops attached along the top edge in back for hanging. The quilting designs include clamshells, floral, and connected elipses at 12 quilting stitches per inch. Hannah Mead (1793-1873) married the Reverend Mark Mead (1782-1864) in 1804. Rev. Mead was a graduate of Yale University, served as pastor of the Congregational Church in Middlebury, Connecticut, from 1809-1830, and returned to Greenwich when he retired. Many church benevolent societies were formed in the early 19th century, and quilting, which served to raise money, provide gifts, and a connotation of warmth, was an important part of their activities as church records and womens' diaries of the period attest. The Young Laides Summer Association of the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich was formed in 1821, and renamed the Stillson Benevolent Society in 1829, in memory of the Elizabeth Stillson, the society's first secretary. The Greenwich Historical Society in Greenwich, Connecticut, also has three signature quilts made by the Stillson Benevolent Society dating to 1851-1852, 1855, and 1861-1862, the latter two signed by Hannah Mead Mark. With the establishment of many young ladies' academies in the 50 years following the Revolutionary War, girls' education improved. Many academies offered a curriculum that included math and geometry skill that might be used to create complex quilt blocks, such as Mariner's Compass. This is probably one of the earliest quilt blocks to be known by a specific name.

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