Allison-Antrim Museum 

                                     Greencastle, PA

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Weaving    Exhibit

Coverlets
 Special Exhibit
March 2002

Weaving

Weaving is a complicated process whether the topic is approached from the preparation of the flax, cotton or wool that was used to make the finished material or the actual weaving process.

Because of the types of coverlets that were loaned to Allison-Antrim Museum for this exhibit and the 1830 to the 1870's time period, I will only try to describe the treadle and Jacquard looms, and double cloth coverlet, Jacquard coverlet, and single coverlet.

In the early part of this time period, the lady of the house would have probably provided the wool used in making her coverlet. She would have had to shear the sheep, card, spin, and sometimes dye the wool. The amount of wool, measured in pounds, she gave the weaver would be returned to her in the coverlet. The weaver probably would have supplied the cotton yarn used for the warp. The weaver purchased the cotton yarn from mills in this area (Hagerstown and Fayetteville) that had the capabilities to card and spin the cotton. In the eighteenth century the customer would have also provided the flax that would have been used for the warp threads. From cutting the flax plant to having finished flax yarn was a much longer and involved process than spinning cotton or wool. In the middle to later part of this time period, the customer may have supplied a certain poundage of wool to the weaver in a mill but it was not guaranteed that that particular wool would be returned to the customer in his/her coverlet.

There were weavers in most populated areas. The products they produced for consumers included carpeting, linen, woolen, flannel, bagging, tow, coverlets, linsey-woolsey, table linens, and blankets.

Their looms were treadle looms that were operated with the feet. These looms produced only plaid and geometric patterns. The more harnesses, the more intricate the pattern. Coverlets produced on this type of loom had a seam up the center.

The invention by French weaver Joseph Jacquard of the Jacquard loom was the beginning of the mechanization of weaving.  The Jacquard attachment could also be used on its narrower predecessors but the resulting coverlet was seamed up the middle. The later Jacquard looms were broad looms, much wider than the conventional loom of the day.  This allowed a wide coverlet to be made without a seam. The heart of the attachment was actually a set of punch cards, similar to the music rolls in a music box. The punched holes activated the harnesses in a certain order that produced many, very ornate intricate designs. Jacquard coverlets were known for their elaborate borders. Sets of Jacquard punch cards could be purchased for many different patterns.

Jacquard invented his namesake loom about 1800. The first Jacquard loom did not make its way to the United States until about 1820.

Double Cloth coverlets were constructed of two "webs" or warps (threads that run vertically). The two webs were joined in a particular way so that the front and back were mirror images. The space between where the designs are joined can be pulled apart like a pocket.

Single coverlets had one warp set and one weft set. They were not made on a Jacquard loom but on the earlier multiple-shaft treadle loom.

Compiled by Bonnie A. Shockey
March 2002

 

Resources:

Rural Pennsylvania German Weaving 1833 - 1857 and the Christian Frey and Henry Small, Jr. Pattern Books, Tandy and Charles Hersh, 2001

America's Quilts and Coverlets, Carleton L. Safford and Robert Bishop, first published 1972, second printing

A Checklist of American Coverlet Weavers, John W. Heisey

Exhibit
May be slow to load.

1
Jacquard woven coverlet - red, blue, and green wool weft on off-white cotton warp with "Greencast. F. Co. Pena 183_", Four Roses pattern with Grapes, Leaf and Vine border, geometric outer border, seamed

On loan from the Washington County Historical Society

2
Jacquard woven coverlet - red and blue wool weft on off-white cotton warp. It was made for S. J. Shepler, Greencastle, Franklin Co Penna 1837 by weavers Ambrouse and Bohn. Sunburst and Lily pattern with Double Bird and Roses border, seamed (The same as No. 3.)

Allison-Antrim Museum Collection

A gift from Margaret Shughart, Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania It belonged to her grandmother, Della Mae Pensinger Stine.

In John Heisey's book A Checklist of American Coverlet Weavers he lists two weavers with the name Bohn in Greencastle. Adam Bohn whose name appears with the name Ambrouse on No. 2 and 3 and then a Jacob Bohn.

3
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red and blue wool weft on off-white cotton warp, 1836, with the name "M Sellers", Greencastle, Franklin Co, Penn and the weaver, Ambrouse & Bohn. Sunburst and Lily pattern with Double Bird and Roses border, seamed (The same as No. 2.)

Made for Mary Elizabeth Sellers Barnhart, great-great-grandmother of and

On loan from Bob Zimmerman and his wife, Pat

4
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, olive green, and blue green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Made by G. Baer, Antietam Factory, F. County, Pa, 1856, seamed. Four Roses with grape border. Same pattern as No. 5 but with different border and color blocking.

The weaving in No. 4 and 5 seems to be much finer (more threads per inch) than in the other coverlets.

Baer's weaving factory was on what is now the Waynesboro Country Club Road in Washington Township.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

5
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, forest green, and blue green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Made by G. Baer, Antietam Factory, F. County, Pa, 1856, seamed. Four Roses with oak leaf and flower border. Same pattern as No. 4 but with different border and color blocking.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

6
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red and blue weft on off-white cotton warp, "Eliza Beth Miller, 1837, Arnold, Chamb g", seamed. Four Roses pattern with Double Bird and Tree border, with a double row of eight-pointed stars for an outer border. Brilliant colors. Arnold was a Chambersburg weaver.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

 

7
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, blue, and medium blue wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Peace and Plenty, 1850", seamed. Snowflake Medallion pattern with Double Bird and Tree border and a single row of eight-pointed stars outer border. Brilliant colors. This is the only coverlet in the exhibit with hand-knotted warp threads. Possibly attributed to Arnold.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

 

8
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, green, and forest green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "J. N. Schultz, Mercersburg, Pa, Made for B. F. Foreman, 1867", no seam - made on a broad loom. Medallion with wide flower borders.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

 

9
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, blue, and sage green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Martha Metz, 1840, G. Nicklas, Chamb g", seamed. Four Roses with Double Bird and Tree border and a double row of eight-pointed stars for the outer border.

G. Nicklas (weaving circa 1820 - 1860) was born in Germany and immigrated to Pennsylvania where he settled in Chambersburg. He is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census as a carpet weaver. His will, dated January 24, 1860 directed that his looms, fixtures, and dye kettle be sold to his nephew, Peter Nicklas for $200. Peter Nicklas was the first minister of the King Street United Brethren Church in Chambersburg.

The business prospered and expanded into furniture with his brother, Adam, and eventually into a chain of Nicklas Furniture stores in Chambersburg, Hagerstown, and Martinsburg.

Peter's daughter, Drucilla, married George Kress who became minister of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church in the 1930's. Adam's daughter, Rachael, was the mother of the late Dr. William C. Brewer of Greencastle.

On loan from Mrs. William Brewer, Greencastle

10
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, blue, forest green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Made by G. Nicklas, Chambersburgh, Franklin County, 1850", made on broad loom - no seam. Brilliant colors. Double lily medallion with rose and oak leaf border, and harlequin outer border. No. 10 & 11 are the same pattern and border.

On loan from David Thomas, The Historic Fairfield Inn

 

11
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, blue, sage green wool weft on off-white cotton warp, "Made by G. Nicklas, Chambersburgh, Franklin County, 1855", made on broad loom - no seam. Double lily medallion with rose and oak leaf border, and harlequin outer border. No. 10 & 11 are the same pattern and border.

On loan from Mrs. William Brewer, Greencastle

 

12
Jacquard double cloth coverlet - Red, blue, and wine (red and blue are woven in such a way to produce the wine color ) weft on off-white cotton warp, seamed. Ingrain carpet pattern could have used Jacquard carpet card on regular loom. Probably not Pennsylvania; possibly Ohio as this piece won a blue ribbon in the Medina, Ohio county fair (no year given). This coverlet has been in the Bonnell family for three or four generations.

On loan from Al Bonnell, Greencastle

 

13
Jacquard double cloth coverlet - Red, blue, green weft on off-white cotton warp, unmarked, made on a broad loom - no seam. Patriotic eagle with 16-pointed star medallion in the center indicates it was probably made circa 1876 for the Centennial celebration. Large seashell border.

On loan from Mrs. Jack Burns, Greencastle

 

14
Jacquard woven coverlet - red, green, blue, and purple weft on off-white warp, unmarked, no seam, ca. 1870.  Purple is an unusual color for coverlets.

From the Coble estate, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

On loan from Ralph Baker, State Line

15
Jacquard woven coverlet - Red, blue, and green wool weft on off-white cotton warp with the name "Susanna Wertz 1841", seamed. Four Roses pattern with a traditional quilting feather pattern border and a double row of eight-pointed stars for an outer border. Brilliant colors.

Susanna Wertz was the mother of Harry Wertz McLaughlin, founder and owner of the Hotel McLaughlin (currently known as the Antrim House).

On loan from Dr. and Mrs. James H. Craig, Jr., Greencastle

16
Single coverlet (one warp set and one weft set) - Navy blue and off white, 1830 - 1850's, seamed. Plaid pattern - Birdeye and Twill (a combination of point twill and turned twill). It is unusual to use only two colors for a plaid; usually there are three colors.

This is the only example of a single coverlet in the exhibit. It was not made on a Jacquard loom but on the earlier multiple-shaft treadle loom.

This coverlet was in the Oaks family of Greencastle-Antrim and was given by Mrs. John (Ruth) Oaks to and is

On loan from Joseph Henson, Chambersburg