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Part 12. Quilt Collections and Technology

Part 12 - Collections

Firstly, for all those readers who thought £36 was a lot of money for the recommended book on Toiles de Jouy but would like to know more about these fabrics, I have found a cheaper one in a remainder/publishers clearance chain of bookshops. It is Toiles de Jouy by Judith Straeten.  She is the well-regarded archivist for the (expensive) fabric company Brunschwig & Fils so this is more than a cheap colour book. However this is still essentially a picture book, all  the fabrics have been taken from an antique sample book of "authentic designs from the Manufature Royale de Jouy  in Jouy -en-Josas".  There is a brief five page introduction: A Fabric For All Seasons covering Background, International Influences, Oberkampf's Factory, the Fabric Printing Process, the Stories, and Toile de Jouy today. Then follow fifty double page spreads, a full colour illustration with brief caption facing. These include date and type of printing and sometimes a little about the design but,for instance no idea of size or magnification. The prints are subdivided as Country Scenes, Classical Scenes & Mythology, Indienne Florals, Florals and Woven Oriental Florals, so it is evident there are not many of each genre. The remaining twenty pages are Resources, a worldwide list of suppliers with comprehensive details of the toile patterns they have available.So I suspect this a book aimed at interior decorators rather than textile historians.

Nevertheless it is a pretty and well-produced book, and at the price- £12.99 a worthwhile addition to your bookshelf. However for real knowledge, save your pennies and buy the book by Melanie Riffel recommended last issue.

The second "collection" featured is the one from Beamish-the North of England Open Air Museum. One way to see their collection is in North Country Quilts and Coverlets from Beamish Museum, County Durham written by Rosemary Allan, their Keeper of Social History. This is a splendid example of a well-produced museum catalogue from its attractive quilty cover to the last of its 96 pages.  After brief polite Acknowledgements and Introduction, there are four pages on Quilting in the North of England and seven on The Quilters-Joe the Quilter, George Gardiner, Elizabeth Sanderson, Rural Quilters and the Quilting Clubs. Two pages on Patterns and Templates and a page on Quilting Today conclude the text. Fifty-seven pages of quilts follow, divided into Plain Quilts (wholecloth), Strip Quilts, Patchwork and Appliqué Quilts and Coverlets. Each section begins with a brief introduction and a map showing the provenance of the quilts. All the quilts have a full page colour illustration with a caption giving details of age, maker (if known) etc with the catalogue number. This is followed by an excellent catalogue of the complete Beamish collection; each quilt/coverlet has a number, name, date, provenance, size, (centimetres and inches) then a short description including the quilting patterns. Finally there is a one page Where quilts can be seen and a one page Bibliography and the inner back cover describes Beamish.

Unfortunately this excellent book is now out-of-print though an updated publication is said to be in preparation. (Note - Update 20/02/2021 the new edition was published in 2007 with over 200 pages and is occasionally available secondhand) However via their website,  you can view the collection online and buy historical photographs and photographs of the items.  Click on the square with Collections in it (down the RHS) then onto the magnifying glass, Search the collections to get a keyword box. There is not a separate category for quilts, patchwork or coverlets so type one of these in and All. Up will come the images, one for each quilt plus a detail-sometimes two. Click on the picture to get the Spec and Photo Number, Date and the same caption from the illustration in Rosemary Allan's book. It is worth going to the Friends of Beamish Homepage and thence to Beamish Quilt Collection for more interesting quilt stuff.

Not many of the quilts are actually on display in the houses and cottages at Beamish but Lilian Hedley gives several talks a year there when she shows and talks about a good selection of quilts from the collection. These talks are highly recommended and there is plenty to entertain the rest of the family while you attend. Their website has further details and dates, contact them for talk times.

My last recommendation is not a book but a CD-ROM. It is called An interactive presentation of 32 of the best quilts from the Rachel Beatrice Kay-Shuttleworh Collection produced by Newberys from the collection held at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire. Once the CD is loaded and opened, there are several tabs-About the collection, About Rachel as eight pages of a book, Gawthorpe Hall and Contact RBKS.

Clicking on About the Collection brings up instructions with tabs for Quilts, Detail, Label and Notes on the right hand side and an alphabetical list of the quilts on the left. There is a view of the whole quilt and one selected Detail, the Label shows the actual label in Rachel's handwriting. The Notes tabrepeats the label details, gives collection notes, date, size, place of production and curators comment. It may not be a perfect production, it would be good to be able to zoom in on any detail but it is so splendid to be able to have any access to this rarely seen quilt collection.


Toiles de Jouy by Judith Straten is published by Gibbs Smith, (Salt Lake City, Utah.)  2002,  ISBN 1-58685-156-X.  I found it at £12.99 in a publishers clearance shop, Amazon have it at £16.37. Other sites in America have it listed at $6.64 to $9.58, though Barnes and Noble quote $34.95. Second hand in America it is $9.58 to $42.

North Country Quilts and Coverlets from the Beamish Museum by Rosemary Allan is published by Beamish, North of England Open Air Museum, Co Durham) in 1987, ISBN 0 905054 9 hardback, paperback :0 905054 03 2. I could only find one on the Internet at £12.50, quite an acceptable price. (Note - Update 20/02/2021 - the new edition was published in 2007 and is occasionally still available secondhand at various prices)

An interactive presentation of 32 of the best quilts from the Rachel Beatrice Kay-Shuttleworth Collections is produced by Newberys and can be ordered from It costs $20.00 including post and packing.. RBKS need your credit card details and will convert the price to sterling, the CD cost me under £10. Delivery is prompt as they are sent out from England.

© Brigid J.Ockelton. 2005

PLEASE NOTE - An indication is given of the availability and market price of the book at the time of writing and may not reflect today's availability and price. Equally, some website links may also now be out of date.