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Thread: What would you do?

  1. #1

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    My grandmother was quite a quilter. I have a half dozen of her quilts or so. Most are well used, but a few of them are in pristine condition. They've been sitting in a cedar chest (one that belonged to my mother) for decades. One is a yo-yo bedspread. One is a double wedding ring that won her grand prize at the Malheur County (Oregon) Fair many years ago. The other is a crazy quilt made from a variety of fabrics. All of her quilts were sewn by hand--both the piecing and the quilting. I truly believe that these quilts I've just listed are museum quality, which brings me to my question.

    I can't bear to bring these quilts out to use them because they are too precious. I know that they would just get dirty and worn out if we were to use them. I could hang them, I suppose, but that's not really where I'm headed. So I'm thinking seriously about donating them to a museum. When I'm gone, no one will know anything about them. That's why I'm thinking about this so much. I just don't really know where to start with this.

    What ideas to you have? If you were going to keep them, what would you do with them to document their history? And if you were going to donate them, what would be your first step? I could sell them to a collector, but I really just want to preserve their history. I don't care about making money from them. By the way, I am her last living descendent.

  2. #2

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    I'm awake and brave at 3:25 so...

    I'd start looking (Google) for textile museums in your county (or your grandmother's county) and then state, then part of the country.

    I'd check with local historical societies - town or city, county state and see what they collect and what happens to their collections after a few years.

    I might offer to frame the quilt under glass as a gift to a local hospital as a decoration. Offer it to a library with wall space and maybe would still frame it under glass.

    Talk with other museums in your area, farm machinery museum or pioneer museum might love having a handmade quilt on it's walls.

    Talking with these kinds of people might get you pointed in the right direction as well. Maybe they would know exactly who would be interested and so on.

    I'd be sure to have the biographical information sewn onto the back somehow. IMHO the quilts would lose value if they lost their identity.

    Good luck!
    Jois

  3. #3
    Super Member ScubaK's Avatar
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    Wow!
    To have such treasure...well, for starters I would start a scrapbook of these quilts that has pictures, the story as you know it of these quilts, pictures of hand quilting, how you came to own them, when or where or why they were made, etc...then I would start to document your journey on decicing to either keep them or donate to a musuem. Then the final ending to where/ what musuem or to whom they end up.
    Jot down your feelings and thoughts on this.
    I think this is just to cool and would be an experiance alot of people would like to hear about.
    kirsten

  4. #4
    Super Member ScubaK's Avatar
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    Oh...
    Forgot to add...
    Get an appraisal QUICK!!!!
    K

  5. #5
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    What a wonderful treasure you have. And I love that you want to donate them so they can be preserved. All of the above advice is great.You can go on line and google to see what our State has. I think it would be nice to be able to keep them in their original state, close to you.

  6. #6
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninnie
    What a wonderful treasure you have. And I love that you want to donate them so they can be preserved. All of the above advice is great.You can go on line and google to see what our State has. I think it would be nice to be able to keep them in their original state, close to you.
    I agree.

  7. #7
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I think you have a wonderful idea!!! I am sure there are many places in your state that would love to have one or all of them :D:D:D
    They would also probably love to have as much background history on them as you could supply too.

  8. #8

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    I love the idea of having them framed and donated to a hospital or other institution but with the stipulation when and if they took it down it came back to you.

  9. #9
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    As her last living descendant, your idea is a fabulous one. I agree that now is the time to do the research to find the information you need ... where (hopefully) you, as the giver and the museum, as the receiver are both very happy with the arrangement.

  10. #10
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    BArbara, I am sure that your local Historical Society would either love to have them or would know the best place to donate them. I was part of a state wide quilt documentation program here in Maryland in the late 80s. It was co-sponsored by the then Extension Homemakers and the DAR musuem in Washington, DC. Our county documented over 600 quilts. We took pictures of them hanging on a frame both of the entire quilt and some close ups of blocks or motifs. We attached a label to the back of each of them with a reference number from the documentation that would link them to the information and pictures than stored by the Historical Society. We had textile experts come in from the DAR and other institutions to examine them and give their opinions of the age, workmenship, present condition and value of each quilt. We also helped the persons presenting the quilts fill out a detailed questionare concerning the history of the quilt and it's maker along with any legends or family stories connected. The quilt owners got copies of everything including the experts comments and photos if they so desired. Our local historical society was thrilled when several of the quilts were donated to their collection.
    The historical society would also be a great place to get contact informaiton for textile experts or appraisers in your area.
    We would also like it if you shared pictures of the quilts with us.

  11. #11

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    Thanks to all of you. These are all good ideas. I'm thinking I'll start by contacting the Oregon Historical Society in Portland and see where that takes me. I will also get them out and take some pictures. A few of the yo-yos on the bed spread are coming apart in places, and so it needs some repair. I worry that all of the little stitches holding them together will come apart too since they are very old. The other two quilts are in perfect condition.

  12. #12
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i would look for a museum with a reputation for having a notable textile collection. that brings the most interested viewers. also, think about a university with an art history or textile collection. a museum of american folk art is a good place as well. in the meantime, keep them under lock and key. have them insured for a limited time, just until you make other arrangements for them. would you like to keep them on exhibit near you? or does it matter? don't get them to take pictures. you take the pictures and send them to the society. no one has to know where they are and you needn't say where you have them housed. sad, isn't it?

  13. #13
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    Are they loose in the cedar chest? I ask because the bare wood can be bad for them. If they are wrapped inside another piece of fabric or tissue paper, that is good.

    You can find a quilt appraiser in your area and get them appraised. The appraiser would also be able to help you with what to do with them. I think it is AQS that has appraisers?

    I want to add - what a treasure you have!

  14. #14
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    Latimer Quilt & Textile in Tillamook has a wonderful museum. They have a climate controlled room where they store vintage quilts. From time to time they have special displays of some of them. Our car club made arrangements for a tour of that very special room. What a great place experience.

    Lindy from Salem

  15. #15
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    Another thought is Mission Mill Museum in Salem. It is the old woolen mill. They have quilt shows there and may have some ideas for you.

  16. #16
    Esqmommy's Avatar
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    Definitely have them appraised so that if you chose to donate you can document their value for purposes of your tax returns! You will be able to write off your donation and it's worth getting the appraisal in writing. It's fairly inexpensive to get the appraisals...and worth it in the long run.

  17. #17
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would probably donate them, but I would want the museum or historical society that took them to have a good textile storage facility and good textile preservation practices. Good archival storage for quilts is not common among museums. I think the ideal is for the quilts to be stored flat, between layers of sheets or achival quality paper, in temperature and humidity controlled rooms. They should also be handled only with white gloves.

    Regarding the cedar chest, you would be well advised to remove them immediately because wood contains acids that first stain and then eat away at fabrics. Many old quilts are stained by acid along the fold lines from storage in cedar chests for years at a time. A good way to temporarily store quilts is to lay them on top of each other on a bed, with a sheet between each one. Ideally you want the bed big enough so the edges don't hang over, but edges hanging over would be preferable to storage in a cedar chest or in contact with any other wood product (such as tissue paper that is not archival quality -- i.e., processed to remove the acid).

    Before donating, I would write as much information as possible about the quilt, the person who made the quilts, and include any pictures of the person and the family from that time.

  18. #18
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    You might want to hand write the history of each quilt onto muslin, then hand stitch it to the back of the quilt. That way it is "with" the quilt and won't get separated. Whoever ends up with them will certainly appreciate getting the information with the quilt. You are very lucky to have these. I have only one tiny crazy quilt from one grandmother, and a stuffed cat sewn from a piece of quilt made by my other grandmother.

  19. #19

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    Thanks for these two local resources. I had heard about the museum in Tillamook, but didn't know the name. I wasn't aware of the one in Salem. I knew I'd get good advice if I posted my question. Thanks!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bstanbro
    Thanks for these two local resources. I had heard about the museum in Tillamook, but didn't know the name. I wasn't aware of the one in Salem. I knew I'd get good advice if I posted my question. Thanks!
    Glad I could help!

  21. #21
    Super Member Barbm's Avatar
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    First an appraisal and then get them insured! It make take a while for you to get them a proper home and in the meantime you need to get protection. Most homeowners policies do not have coverage for valuables and this is irreplaceable.

    I'd love to know where you find a home for them! They are a piece of history that people forget about.

  22. #22
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    Latimer may be able to do an appraisal. I'll bet they have to do them to have their insurance cover the quilts there.

  23. #23

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    Good idea about Latimer. Regardless of what I do with the quilts, I need to see their museum. Sounds like a trip to the beach to me!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bstanbro
    Good idea about Latimer. Regardless of what I do with the quilts, I need to see their museum. Sounds like a trip to the beach to me!
    I emailed Latimer & they gave me this URL for help finding appraisers.
    www.americanquilter.com/quilt_world/appraisers.php or www.quiltappraisers.org.
    I would still make the trip to the beach, though! :-)

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