Marylou McDonald

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Site last updated on September 23, 2017

Quilt History

Hanna Trimble's Diary


I recently reread Hannah Trimble’s diary in preparation for a new power point presentation. It had been several years since I had read her diary in which Hannah wrote about her day on the “first day of the 2nd month in 1850.”

Hannah wrote that she first went to Mrs. Williams on Exeter Street who was preparing to exhibit a quilt for Dr. John MacKenzie. She describes the quilt in some detail and compares it later to a quilt she sees at Mrs. Slivers. The Dr. John MacKenzie Quilt was sold in 1946 for $3,000 and has never surfaced. I would like to have a picture of it shown on the TV show, America’s Most Wanted!

Hannah wrote “then out to Mrs. Simon’s in Chestnut Street, the lady who cut and basted these handsome quilts saw some pretty squares.” This sentence has been the basis for crediting Mary Simon as the person responsible for the Baltimore Album Quilts. The statement that Hannah wrote would indicate to me as a person who sews the blocks together, marks, sandwiches and bastes the quilt before it is sent to a quilter.

Some think that Mrs. Simon could have been making basted block kits. I find this doubtful as only one BAQ block has ever surfaced basted (the City Spring Block in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society). In addition, if basted block kits were made and sold, the blocks would likely differ from other blocks in a quilt as dye lots of background fabrics differ from bolt to bolt. There is nothing in the statement about Mary Simon that suggests that she was designing blocks!

Hannah then goes on to Mrs. Slivers who not only has a Baltimore Album Quilt but an Irish Chain Quilt and “one pattern of red and green calico.”

Later in the afternoon, Hannah went to Mrs. Hare’s house “who was quilting a very pretty quilt fancy works, similar to album works…” In Hannah’s diary, there is no mention of a designer….. just Mrs. Williams who is preparing a quilt to be exhibited, Mrs. Sliver who has three quilts… one an album quilt and Mrs. Hare who is quilting an album quilt and Mrs. Simon who is cutting and basting a quilt. I believe that there were many designers that were inspired from china, toile fabrics, city directories, newspapers, theorem paintings, chintz fabrics, samplers, etc.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that Mary Simon’s 15 years of being the one responsible for the Baltimore Album Quilts is OVER until we find a diary that tells us more!

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