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Date Made:early 19th century
Materials:textile: bleached (white) cotton with loop pile weft decoration
Place Made:United Kingdom; Great Britain: England; Bolton area
Measurements:overall: 102 in x 90 3/4 in; 259.08 cm x 230.505 cm
Accession Number:  HD F.023
Credit Line:Gift of Miss Julia Snow
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Cotton whitework Bolton type coverlet made of cotton twill machine-woven in a pattern formed of raised loops of weft achieved by weft manipulation during the weaving process producing a center eight-pointed star, floral and geometric patterns, and a greek key border, and with "SSF 12" woven into the spread edge. This coverlet and one marked "Ann M. Low 1812 G 12/4 F" (HD F.811) in the HD collection are similar to a white coverlet (Cat. No. 971.356.3) in the collection of Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is inscribed "G" and "Margaret Ann Walton" and "W F 11/4 F." The ROM coverlet was woven in the workhouse in the Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, NY (then Mt. Pleasant), by one or more of the women inmates. Sing Sing Prison was opened in 1826, and the Mount Pleasant Female Prison opened at Sing Sing in 1839 with women being transferred there from Bellevue and Auburn Prison, and closed in 1877. Inmate life was based on conditions established in Auburn Prison where a weaving shop was established shortly after the prison opened in 1817. The contact system was started in 1825, and the shop for weaving "Carpets, Coverlets, Flannels, Diapers" was contracted out by 1833, which enabled wardens to contract inmate labor out to private industry for profit; in 1833, twenty inmates, who earned 30 cents per day for a day's labor, were hired out. Both the prison labor and cheap prices ot their goods angered manufacturers of similar goods on the outside, and legislation was passed in 1835 to restrict competions between prison labor and free mechanics. About 40 coverlets are attributed to Auburn Prison, three of which have firm attributions. White bed coverings, such as this example with white embroidery or surface design, are referred to as "whitework," and frequently appear on examples dating to the early 19th century. Although more difficult to keep clean, white domestic textiles, especially those made from cotton, could be easily laundered. This example was likely imported from England, which had a large center of weaving this type of coverlet near Bolton (Manchester).

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