Centennial Indigo Baskets

Centennial Indigo Baskets

This indigo and white basket study quilt features bits of Centennial star fabric in some of the 5.5″ x 5.5″ baskets and in the binding. The best estimate is that this Pennsylvania quilt by an anonymous quilter was made after 1876, in the last quarter of the nineteenth Century.

The 1876 United States Centennial was a celebration of 100 years of the country’s independence. Ulysses S. Grant was the president. Colorado was admitted to the union as the 38th state. The Centennial Exposition was held on a grand scale in Philadelphia. Over ten million visitors attended to view many international pavilions, the latest innovations and the arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty as work in progress by Frederic Bartholdi. Patriotic motif fabrics were printed for the Centennial Exposition. There were bandannas, banners, and subjects as varied as eagles, flags, liberty caps, muskets, liberty bells, portraits of George and Martha Washington, Lafayette, and stars.

The Centennial star fabric has small white five-pointed stars on an indigo ground. This study quilt has original pieces of the star fabric in one basket and in the binding. Indigo fabric had been a popular color of fabric for many years. Indigo is one of the oldest and most reliable dyes to be used on fabrics.

The baskets are oriented with half facing right and half facing left. This assures they can be viewed on a bed from either side.

The quilter hand pieced the baskets and appliquéd the handles. One basket in the lower corner has a green dotted fabric handle. It appears to be original rather than a repair. The quilting is simple diagonal lines in a chevron pattern with white thread. The baskets are outlined and also quilted in a chevron pattern.