At Twenty-Five: Distinguishing the Biggs Museum of American Art

Biggs Museum of American Art, seen with the first permanent sculptural installation, Aloft, by Erica Loustau, professor at West Chester University. Aloft is the capstone of the museum’s 2011−14 renovation.

As we look forward to the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Biggs Museum of
American Art, our focus is one dedicated to the objects, stories, and supporters who
have made the institution not only notable—thanks to founder Sewell C. Biggs
—but unique among the nation’s art museums. Through the vision and
generosity of Mr. Biggs, the museum opened in 1993 on the Delaware state capital’s
impressive Legislative Mall and has, in the years since his passing in 2003,
continued to grow through public sponsorship, private philanthropy, careful choices,
and significant good fortune. This anniversary celebration presents the perfect
opportunity to reflect on that sustained growth.

Sewell C. Biggs, Peter Egeli, 1979. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Sewell C. Biggs 2004.469

After 2003 the staff and trustees of the museum initiated a series of ambitious
exhibitions, engaging programs, capital campaigns, and aggressive communications
to elicit greater attention and support from the community. A new spirit of
engagement within the Biggs began with the hiring in 2004 of the museum’s
curator, Ryan Grover, and culminated in a three-year expansion and renovation
of the galleries; several groundbreaking publications; a widening of the base
of support; and an enviable list of educational partnerships. Inviting this level of
public participation had a positive impact upon the museum operations, strategic
goals, and permanent collection—a collection that has doubled in size under
Grover’s stewardship.

The Marcia and Henry DeWitt Gallery in 2015, after the museum’s three-year renovation. Featured are works by the family of Charles Willson Peale as well as Federal furnishings from Delaware.

As noted by Charles Guerin, executive director since 2013, “The key stakeholders
of the Biggs Museum have guided its recently explosive pattern of growth with a
wise deference to the founder’s legacy. The core of Mr. Biggs’s intellectual and
collecting interests are continually maintained within his timeline presentation of
the permanent collection.”

Walnut side chairs, 1740−65. Gift and partial gift of the Loockerman / Bradford Family 2013.10.1-.2;
Mahogany pembroke table, Benjamin Randolph (?), Philadelphia, 1760−80. Museum purchase 2006.17; A Map of the World, Mary Tobias Putman, 2006. Acrylic on panel. Museum purchase 2010.7

The museum continues to celebrate Sewell C. Biggs’s passion for early Delaware
decorative arts with the addition of well-documented examples to his collection,
and few are as prized as the four compass-seat side chairs (1740−65) made for the
Dover home of wealthy merchant Vincent Loockerman. The chairs are
among the earliest known furniture believed to have been made in Delaware.¹ The
pembroke table on view with the set was perhaps made by Benjamin Randolph,
who supplied chairs to Loockerman, presumably in the 1760s.²

The American Rococo Gallery features exceptional Philadelphia furniture and silver in front of the 1758 Shipley mantel from Wilmington, Delaware.

The respect paid to Biggs’s interests in the growth of the museum collection is
matched by an equally ambitious desire to forge new directions and illuminate new
relationships within the galleries. The modern and contemporary art collections are
among the fastest growing portions of the museum. As examples of national trends
of the past hundred years are added to expand the original Biggs collection further
into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, much of the newest and most exciting
work being collected comes from within the Mid-Atlantic region, especially
Delaware. Displayed above the notable Loockerman chairs is A Map of the World
(2006) by Townsend, Delaware, resident Mary Tobias Putman, winner of the
Hassam, Speicher, Betts & Symons Purchase Fund Award from the American
Academy of Arts and Letters. This minimalist landscape features the timeless fishing
village of Leipsic on the Delaware Bay, only a few miles from the Biggs Museum.

Within a ten-year period, Mr. Biggs opened and nurtured a small American art
museum with a collection that reflected important early art forms of Delaware.
During the past fifteen years, the museum staff and trustees have built on that
foundation, creating one of the finest regional art museums in the country. The
Biggs Museum of American Art is the only institution working to give national
attention to the full range of artistic achievement and cultural strength within
Delaware and the greater Delmarva region (fig. 5). Its most distinguishing
characteristic is its courage in building an important American art collection that
offers a better understanding of a unique cultural geography—displaying the best
of the nation next to the best from right here.

At Twenty-Five: Distinguishing the Biggs Museum of Art is the special loan exhibit at this year’s Delaware Antiques Show, November 10–12, 2017.

The original article featured in the Delaware Antiques Show Catalogue was generously sponsored by Stratus Foundation/flyAdvanced.

Excerpt from the article submitted for publication in Antiques & Fine Art (Winter 2017).

¹ Two chairs have been gifted, and two are promised gifts of the descendants of Vincent Loockerman.

² The museum owns one side chair from this set; it is inscribed with Randolph’s name and the partially obscured date of 1762
or 1765.

Posted in antiques, art collections, Delaware Antiques Show, exhibition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Long Journey of the Charleston Dining Room

Seldom seen by visitors today, the Charleston Dining Room on the third floor of Winterthur contains woodwork and windows from what was once a fashionable gathering place in antebellum South Carolina. The 18th-century paneling, cornices, fireplace and mantle, and windows come from a hotel that stood in Charleston near the intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets. During its heyday in the 1820s and 1830s, the hotel hosted visitors from across America and Europe.

Site of the old Jones Hotel in Charleston

If appreciating the carved woodwork today is easy, grappling with the hotel’s legacy is more difficult. As was common during that time in Charleston, many of the workers who earned the hotel its reputation were enslaved, but what was more unusual was the proprietors were free people of color. Jehu Jones was a tailor who purchased his freedom in 1798 and soon began acquiring real estate—and enslaved human beings too. He purchased the hotel for $13,000 in 1816, but it was probably his wife Abigail, a pastry cook, who put the hotel on the map.

“Every Englishman who visits Charleston,” wrote one foreign guest in 1833, “will, if he be wise, direct his baggage to be conveyed to Jones’s hotel.” The old world elegance of its dinners included iced claret that “might have converted even Diogenes into a gourmet.”(1) Another guest was Samuel F. B. Morse, who was still known as a painter rather than as an inventor. Around 1821, Morse came to Charleston and rented rooms behind the Jones Hotel as a portrait studio.

Both guests would have spent time in the Charleston Dining Room. Located on the second floor of the main building, it probably served not as a dining room but as a drawing room, where guests might gather after meals. The bay window projected over the hotel’s main entrance on Broad Street, giving guests a clear view of Charleston’s city hall.

The Jones Hotel was also just a few hundred feet from the headquarters of Charleston’s city guard. After nine o’clock at night, the guard would arrest black residents, whether enslaved or free, who ventured out of doors. A German duke staying at the hotel around 1825 recounted hearing a warning call; he was “startled to hear the retreat and reveillé beat there” from inside his room.(2) The Joneses, for all their importance to the social life of the elite—and although they were slaveholders themselves—were among the people being targeted.

If you get the chance to see the room today, you are viewing what may be the only identifiable surviving part of the main hotel.

The building fell into disrepair in the late 19th century. Around 1928, it was dismantled and placed in storage. Some pieces, including the paneling from this room, were eventually acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery, where Henry Francis du Pont discovered them in the 1950s. What is now the Charleston Dining Room, was shipped from New Haven and installed at Winterthur, originally to serve as a lunch spot for visitors taking all-day tours.

Today, the warm sandy color of the walls is based on the earliest original layer of paint, applied around 1774 when the hotel was constructed as a private home. The white tiles lining the fireplace suggest the patterned Delft tiles popular in Charleston at the time. What comes from the building itself is the carved wood—including the windows, the elaborate decorations above the fireplace, and the two closet doors. The entrance, however, was moved from its original location opposite the bay window in order to fit the current space.

Post by Jonathan W. Wilson, a historian and adjunct faculty member at the University of Scranton and Marywood University. He is working on a book project about the Jones family.



(1) Thomas Hamilton, Men and Manners in America, vol. 2 (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and T. Cadell, 1833), 278.

(2) Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach, Travels through North America, during the Years 1825 and 1826, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey, 1928), 7.


Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 99-100.

Albert Simons, “Report of Matters Pertaining to the Removal of the Mansion House, Charleston, South Carolina,” n.d., Winterthur Archives

Harriet P. and Albert Simons, “The William Burrows House of Charleston,” Winterthur Portfolio 3 (1967): 172-203.

South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Public Programs Packet no. 1, Jehu Jones: Free Black Entrepreneur [1989]

John A. H. Sweeney, The Treasury House of Early American Rooms (New York: W. W. Norton, 1963), 12 and 76-77.

Marina Wikramanayake, A World In Shadow: The Free Black in Antebellum South Carolina (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1973), 79 and 103-111.

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Creating Places to Call Home

Gil Schafer photo by Rebecca Greenfield

For award-winning architect and Delaware Antiques Show co-chair and keynote speaker
Gil Schafer, the measure of a house does not lie in the structure itself or in any particular
element of its design. Instead, he says the most successful houses are the ones that
celebrate the small moments of life—houses with timeless charm that are imbued with
memory and anchored in a distinct sense of place. Essentially, Schafer believes a house is
truly successful only when the people who live there consider it home.

It’s this belief—and Schafer’s rare ability to translate his clients’ deeply personal
visions of how they want to live into a physical home that reflects those dreams—
that has established him as one of the most sought-after, highly regarded architects
of our time.

Kitchen, carriage house in Charleston

In his new book, A PLACE TO CALL HOME: Tradition, Style, and Memory in the New
American House (Rizzoli, October 2017), Schafer follows up his best-selling The Great
American House by pulling the curtain back on his distinctive approach, sharing his
process (complete with unexpected, accessible ideas readers can work into their own
projects) and taking readers on a detailed tour of seven beautifully realized houses in
a range of styles located around the country—each in a unique place, and each with
a character all its own. Lush, full-color photographs (250) of these seven houses and
other never-before-seen projects, including exterior, interior, and landscape details,
invite readers into Schafer’s world of comfortable classicism.

Mantel detail, new residence in New Jersey

Opening with memories of the childhood homes and experiences that have shaped
Schafer’s own history, A PLACE TO CALL HOME gives the reader the sense that for
Schafer architecture is not just a career but a way of life, a calling. He describes how
the many varied houses of his youth were informed as much by their style as by their
sense of place and how these experiences of home informed his idea of classicism as
a set of values that he applies to many different kinds of architecture in places as
varied as the ones he grew up in. Because while Schafer is absolutely a classical
architect, he is in fact a modern traditionalist, and A PLACE TO CALL HOME
showcases how he effortlessly interprets traditional principles for a multiplicity of
architectural styles within contemporary ways of living.

Library, Fifth Avenue apartment

Part I of the two-part book, aptly titled “The Essentials,” outlines Schafer’s
architectural “toolkit”—both the concrete techniques he uses for every project and
the more emotional and intuitive elements he takes into consideration, the so-called
“lightning in a bottle” that fills his work with soul. Sections that include the delicate
balance of modern and traditional aesthetics, the juxtaposition of fancy and simple,
and the details that make each project special and livable—from the doors and
windows to fireplaces, mouldings, and hardware—are informative and enlightening.
Schafer also delves into what he refers to as “the spaces in between,” those often
overlooked spaces like closets, mudrooms, and laundry rooms, explaining their
underappreciated value in the broader context of a home. Part of Schafer’s skill lies
in the way he gives the minutiae of a project as much attention as the grand aesthetic
gestures, and ultimately, it’s this combination that brings his homes to life.

New residence on the Navesink River, New Jersey

Part II of the book is the story of seven houses and the places they inhabit
(figs. 1–4) each with a different character and soul: a charming cottage completely
rebuilt into a casual but gracious house for a young family in bucolic Mill Valley,
California; a reconstructed historic 1930s Colonial house and gardens set in lush
woodlands in Connecticut; a new, Adirondack-camp-inspired house perched on the
edge of Lake Placid with stunning views of nearby Whiteface Mountain; an elegant
but family-friendly Fifth Avenue apartment with a panoramic view of Central Park;
a new timber frame and stone barn situated to take advantage of the summer sun
on a lovely, rambling property in New England; a new residence and outbuildings
on a 6,000-acre hunting preserve in Georgia, inspired by the historic 1920s and 1930s
hunting plantation houses in the region; and Schafer’s own, deeply personal, newly
renovated and surprisingly modern house located just a few feet from the Atlantic
Ocean in coastal Maine.

In Schafer’s hands, the stories of these houses are irresistibly approachable. He guides
the reader through each of the design decisions, sharing anecdotes about the process
and fascinating historical background and contextual influences of the settings.
Readers will find themselves wandering the pages just as they might wander the
rooms, absorbing every detail and every anecdote.

Ultimately, the homes featured in A PLACE TO CALL HOME are more than just
beautiful buildings in beautiful places. In each of them, Schafer has created a dialogue
between past and present, a personalized world that people can inhabit gracefully,
in sync with their own notions of home. Because, as Schafer writes in the book, he
designs houses “not for an architect’s ego, but [for] the beauty of life, the joys of
family, and, not least, a heartfelt celebration of place.”

Gil will be the keynote speaker at the 54th Annual Delaware Antiques Show, November
10–12, 2017, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, Wilmington, Delaware. His keynote
kicks the show off on November 10 at 10:00 am. For more information on the Delaware
Antiques Show or to purchase tickets, please visit

Post by John Hanlon, assistant and marketing coordinator, G. P. Schafer Architect

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Winterthur After Hours

Photo, Bob Leitch

On select Friday evenings, Winterthur comes alive for a little after-hours fun. Enjoy music, a beer garden, and a stroll around the grounds, explore the Galleries after hours, and, on some Fridays, enjoy a guided garden stroll or talk with one of our staff.

This Friday, September 8, 5:30–8:00 pm, After Hours heads to Clenny Run, which comes alive with the sounds of Naked Blue, who draw from the Americana tradition and are firmly grounded with a pleasing pop sensibility. The performing songwriter team, Jen and Scott Smith, have become a mainstay on the national folk/pop scene with their fun, intimate, award winning vocals, and crazy-good guitar work. 

For the history buffs, join Jeff Groff, estate historian, for a 20-minute walk around the complicated Winterthur building known as the Coach House, an 1850 barn rebuilt and re-purposed continually for over 150 years. In the past, horses were stabled there, dogs were kenneled there, coaches were stored, and automobiles garaged. The stone work, building shape, windows, and door frames help reveal the changing use.

Welcome the weekend with an evening at Winterthur. Admission is Pay What You Wish. Reserve your tickets online. To find out more about our Winterthur After Hours program, please visit our website

Post by Jeanie McCuskey, Senior Manager, Adult & Community, Continuing Education Programs

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The Brew of American Independence: Tea and Coffee after the Revolution

In 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Revolution, Congress passed a joint resolution to devote the Rotunda of the Capitol to celebrating the Boston Tea Party. Joining celebrations nationwide, this was the first time this governmental building was used for public ceremonies of this kind. Apparently, theses centennial celebrations directly correlated tea with American independence.

Centennial Tea Party in Rotunda of U.S. Capitol, Washington, December 16, 1875. Source: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, January 2, 1875 [sic], 281, Library of Congress, accessed July 4, 2017, available at

In reflecting on the Boston Tea Party, popular histories claim that the Boston Tea Party marked the beginning of the end of the popularity of tea drinking in the U.S., and after ten years of boycott from 1773 to 1783, tea was phased out and a taste for coffee developed. But is that true? In this coffee-drinking country, this explanation appears convenient and convincing, especially when considering the statistics: while per capita coffee consumption was only 0.125 pounds in 1783, it reached 7.09 pounds in 1880. By contrast, tea consumption was 0.8 pounds per person per year in 1770 and 1.39 pounds a century later.  
However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a different story. In reality, the official ban on tea sale lasted less than two years, and colonists’ demand for tea often outpaced their political activism. These writers, most of whom may be coffee drinkers, may have also forgotten that tea leaves are much lighter and more economical than coffee beans. With a six-ounce cup, a pound of tea yields about 180 cups of tea, while a pound of coffee makes only about 50 cups. Moreover, tea leaves can be used more than once. Bohea, the once-popular cheap black tea, lost its strength with three waters. Hyson and Gunpowder, the most popular green teas in nineteenth-century America, bore four to five waters. Once making a second cup with the same tea leaves, Americans still took more cups of tea than coffee through the century.

While tea-taking was a marker of social status during the colonial period, Robert Waln Jr. of Philadelphia noticed in 1819 that tea had “obtained, in actual use, an importance almost equivalent to that of bread.” Few families in the U.S., “however humble their situation,” could not afford this exhilarating beverage. Waln’s statement was not an exaggeration. Before the more well-known afternoon tea was introduced into the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, tea had played a big part in Americans’ home lives. Tea remained essential to people’s breakfast and sometimes served as an after-dinner beverage. Moreover, tea was the evening meal for nineteenth-century Americans. Supper, served at a later hour, was the fourth meal for some people, particularly the well-offs.

During the Civil War, Union hospitals maintained the three-square meals—breakfast, dinner, and tea—for soldiers. On Sunday, the evening meal was supper and, even though it was at a late hour, tea and bread were still served. Diet Table for Union Hospitals, 1862, source: “ARMY AND NAVY NEWS.: THE SURGEON-GENERAL’S NEW BILL OF FARE FOR THE HOSPITALS,” Medical and Surgical Reporter (1858-1898), November 22, 1862.

Exchange Hotel in Richmond, Va., 1873. Tea, the evening meal, was served from 7:00-8:30 pm at this hotel, while supper was served half an hour later. Source: Menus, 1854-1930, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library.

During teatime, a well-equipped tea table had a set of items, including a tea pot, cups and saucers, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, slop bowl, tea chest, tea urn, teaspoons, and tongs. A hot water kettle and coffee pot were often included as well. In the 1880s, when afternoon teas were considered informal events, hostesses’ tea trays still “should contain cups, saucers, spoons, doilies, plates, sugar-bowl, slop-bowl, cream-pitcher, thin slices of lemon, tea-pot, caddy, and kettle.” ¹ Although households of humble backgrounds might reduce the pieces of their tea sets, most of these items remained basic to tea taking through the nineteenth century.

Tea set (tea pot, coffee pot, teacups, coffee cups, sugar bowl, cream pitcher, waster bowl, and plates.), Tucker Factory, 1825-38, Winterthur Museum. Gift of Philip Hammerslough 1957.0009.

The democratization of tea consumption, however, gradually diminished the visibility of tea, as everyday occurrences are usually too unimpressive to note. Tea no longer served as a status marker. George L. Miller and Amy C. Earls, archaeologists specializing in ceramics, noted that while before the 1860s, 70 to 100% of teawares were painted and printed vessels, the postbellum years saw a dramatic shift to creamware and white granite wares (vessels without color decoration), which had been more common for tablewares. The tea table had also been an item of conspicuous consumption by the mid-century, but according to furniture experts at Winterthur Museum and the National Museum of American History, tea tables from the latter nineteenth century are rare. Smaller and cheaper teapoys were likely to be used to hold the tea sets.

Teapoys, 1900, source: Russell C. Fisk & Son (New York, N.Y.), Illustrated Catalogue of Chairs, Bedsteads, and Furniture, circa 1900, Winterthur Library.

The fast pace of industrialization and urbanization furthered the inconspicuousness of tea. In the late nineteenth century, professionals and factory workers didn’t have time to rush back home for a hearty mid-day dinner, so they had lunch instead and dined in the evening. While the evening meal shifted from tea to dinner, the composition of the vessels used to serve them also changed. Teaware and dinnerware, which had been separated in function and decoration, were combined into one set of service from the 1880s.

Dinner Sets, 1889, source: Geo. F. Bassett & Co. (New York), Catalogue and Price List of All the Latest Designs in China, Crockery and Glassware, 1889, George L. Miller Collection.

In the meantime, the popularity of coffee grew during this period, not only because of the influx of coffee-drinking immigrants, but also due to the modernization of coffee making in the U.S.. Before the 1870s, housewives had to roast and grind coffee beans themselves at home. During the Civil War, grocers in the Union began to roast coffee for consumers. The invention of vacuum-packed coffee and modern stove-top percolators at the very end of the century allowed people to brew palatable coffee more easily, thus greatly promoting its consumption.

Consequently, the composition of tea and coffee service changed. For most of the nineteenth century, coffeewares were subordinate to tea services. A complete set of a coffee service was rare, and the coffee pot had been a vessel included in a tea set. However, in the late nineteenth century, coffee services appeared in trade catalogues, which also advertised coffee tables, resembling tea tables in shape and size. Moreover, hardware companies even suggested the same pot or service for both tea and coffee, indicating a growing casualness in taking tea. In a word, no matter whether the line between tea and coffee wares hardened or blurred, tea consumption lowered in stature.

Invoice book, crockery store, N. H., ca. 1865. Teaware was available in sets and pieces, but a complete coffee set never appears in the records. Coffeewares were sold in pieces: either a coffee pot or coffees (cups with matching saucers) or a dozen coffee cups. Source: Business Papers of John Sise, 1851-1867, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library.

Tea sets and coffee sets, 1904, source: Unger Brothers (Newark, N.J.), 1904, in Dorothy T. Rainwater, ed., Sterling Silver Holloware, American Historical Catalogue Collection (Princeton: The Pyne Press, 1973).

Coffee tables, circa 1920, source: [Art Colony Industries (New York), The Book of Treasures: New and Unusual Things from All the World], Trade Catalogs Collection, National Museum of American History Library, Washington D. C. [October 20, 2016 consulted]

Tea and Coffee Pots, 1897, source: M. Schrayer’s Sons & Co. (Chicago, Ill.), Illustrated Catalogue, 1897, Trade Catalogues Collection, Winterthur Library.

Tea or coffee (or chocolate) service, source: Adolph Silverstone Inc. (New York), Silverstone’s Fine Metal Ware, Trade Catalogues Collection, Winterthur Library.

Although per capita tea consumption continued to grow during the Gilded Age, tea culture started to fade away from Americans’ memories, while coffee became more visible in popular culture. Centennial celebrations of the American Revolution during this era inspired people to interpret the “decline” of tea consumption as a consequence of Americans’ urge for liberty, thus re-politicizing tea as a symbol of American independence. However, is this history or merely a story that people were more willing to tell?

Post by Dan Du, Research Fellow, Winterthur, and Visiting Assistant Professor, History Department, Wake Forest University

¹ Florence Howe Hall, Social Customs (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1887), 158.


Merritt, Jane T.. “Tea Trade, Consumption, and the Republican Paradox in Prerevolutionary Philadelphia,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol.128, no. 2 (2004): 117-148.

Miller, George L. and Amy C. Earls. “War and Pots: The Impact of Economics and Politics on Ceramic Consumption Patterns.” Ceramics in America (2008): 67-108.

Shammas, Carole. “Changes in English and Anglo-American Consumption.” In John Brewer and Roy Porter, ed., Consumption and the World of Goods (New York: Routledge, 2013), 177-205.

Topik, Steven. “How Mrs. Olson Got Her Full-Bodied Coffee: The Industrialization of the Coffee Service Sector in the United States, 1760-1950.” American Studies Group, University of California at Irvine, April, 2004.

Posted in Ceramics, declaration of independence, Decorative Arts, Ephemera, Library, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ornamental Arts at Moravian Boarding Schools

Winterthur is renowned for its incomparable Pennsylvania German collection, but few realize that it also has an excellent small group of Moravian objects. Thanks to a recent research fellowship, l have been able to study the latter pieces that were, in part, acquired by late curator of textiles Susan Burrows Swan as examples of the role fancy needlework played in the lives of young girls attending schools such as the Seminary for Female Education at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Lititz School for Girls at Lititz, Pennsylvania, and the Female Academy at Salem, North Carolina. The Moravian embroidery and paintings we find in today’s museums, private collections, and antique shops often represent needlework and art projects completed by pupils from these boarding schools, including embroidery or artwork that was either sold as souvenirs to tourists visiting the Moravian communities or sent home as proof of one’s accomplishments.

Eliza Southgate Bowne (1783–1809), daughter of a well-to-do landowner in Scarborough, Maine, toured Bethlehem in the summer of 1803 and mentioned to her mother in a letter, “We went to a room where they keep their work for sale—pocket-books, pin-balls, toilette cushions, baskets, artificial flowers, etc.” (1)  The Winterthur collection contains representative examples of such artwork and ornamental sewing, including this needle case made circa 1819–1827 by a still-to-be-identified Bethlehem Moravian boarding school student.

Needlework case by Wilkinson, Moravian School, Bethlehem, PA, 1819-27. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Embroiderers Guild of America 1989.0049 A, B

Instead of using yarn or thread to work the embroidery designs, the young girl opted for a ribbon work technique taught by the Moravians. Using specially shaded and dyed narrow silk chiffon ribbons, she raised the design from the ground, creating a three-dimensional, lifelike scene of freshly plucked field flowers. The above smaller “pocketbook” fits into the larger envelope case below and, what at first glance appears to be a beautifully embroidered purse, is really intended to hold sewing needles.

Needlework case by Wilkinson, Moravian School, Bethlehem, PA, 1819-27. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Embroiderers Guild of America 1989.0049 A, B

Embroidering on paper rather than linen or silk required a great deal of skill as a wrong stitch could not be undone. In 1779 Moravian Elisabeth Horsfield Lindenmeyer (1737–1814) (2) embroidered roses, carnations, violets, and other blossoms onto laid paper, creating a border around the Moravian daily Losung or watchword for September 21, 1779.

Needlework picture by Elisabeth Lindenmeyer, Moravian School, Bethlehem, PA, 1779. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Special Fund for Collection Objects 1985.0051

Elisabeth penned the two separate texts—the first from Isaiah 29:19 and the last from a prayer of meditation found originally in the Meditationes sanctorum partum of 1587—and signed her name in Fraktur script within the floral cartouche. The watchword reads in English:

“The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor
among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:19 [KJV].
If I have You, then to be sure I have found eternal pleasure. (3)
Elis[abeth] Lindenmeyer.” (4)

The use of a Losung began in 1731 when the Moravian leader Count Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) began choosing daily meditative verses for his followers. They were published in a booklet and distributed to all members. No matter where one found himself in the world, and for the Moravians that meant everywhere, all were to meditate as a unified body on the designated biblical verse(s) of the day.

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem has several similar examples of embroidery on paper, attesting to the high level of sewing expertise among the women and girls in the Moravian community. It is also worth noting that Moravian artists/scriveners created birthday Fraktur watercolors on paper that featured daily watchwords within a floral wreath. (5)

Class II Art Exam Exercise by Conrad B. Oppelt, Nazareth Hall Moravian Boys’ Boarding School, Nazareth, PA, 1818. Winterthur Library 71 x 211, 45a

Conrad B. Oppelt of Ohio, age 13, Class II, drew and painted the above watercolor of a fresh bouquet of narcissus and roses tied with a rose-colored ribbon as his art exam exercise on May 9, 1818, at Nazareth Hall, the Moravian Boys Boarding School, Nazareth, Pennsylvania. (6)  Similar drawings from art classes/exams frequently became patterns for embroidery on work bags such as the Moravian example below. Besides the needlework, the student also painted or penned inscriptions in black on the front and reverse of this reticule: “Where Lehi flows & feeds sweet flow’rs, T’was wrought in Bethlehem’s pleasant bow’rs. 1807,” and “Friendship sweetens the cares of life.” (7)  Both boys and girls made birthday greetings, friendship cards, watch papers, quill boxes, etc., and ornamented them with beautifully-wrought ribboned garlands of flowers, adding either inscriptions in Roman script, such as seen here, or in Fraktur script.

Purse (reticule) by M. G., Moravian School, Bethlehem, PA. Museum purchase 1980.0006

The Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravians had an ebullient love of all living things: the flowers, trees, the glowing verdant land upon which they grew, and the hushed sheltered walkways. The tangible productions these communities made reflect the unspoken universal sacred connection between man and nature. Perhaps this is why they so often ornamented whatever they utilized in their everyday lives with flowers. One thing is certain: the early Pennsylvania material culture housed in the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library reflects what Henry Francis du Pont sensed in his garden. As  noted in the book The Winterthur Garden: Henry Francis du Pont’s Romance with the Land by  Denise Magnani, “His message is a simple one: cultivate your garden; your soul will follow. Everything is connected.” (8)

Winterthur view from top of hill left of Quarry Garden. “Keep this view open forever,” H. F. du Pont, 1962.


Post by Del-Louise Moyer, a Winterthur Research Fellow who has been researching the incredible resources at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library for a book she is writing entitled Heavenly Fraktur: How Fraktur Influenced Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravian Material Culture.



 (1) Eliza Southgate Bowne.  Letters of Eliza Southgate, Mrs. Walter Bowne.
[ New York: The De Vinne Press, 188-?], 239/414. Accessed 10/16/2016 at 

 (2) Elisabeth Horsfield Lindenmeyer (1737-1814) was the daughter of Timothy Horsfield, Sr. (1708-1773), a very wealthy butcher from Long Island, who touched by the spiritual teachings of the Moravians, moved to Bethlehem, Pa. in 1749.  Here he served as Justice of the Peace, and came to play a major role among those of political and civic responsibilities in the greater Philadelphia area.  His daughter was known to be very high-strung, and to suffer from nervous disorders.  Elisabeth married the Rev. Henry Lindenmeyer (1728-1817), who served the Moravian churches at Emmaus and York, Pa.

 (3) Cunrad Höier. “Ein Trostgebet…aus Meditationes sanctorum patrum, 1587” cited in Philipp Wackernagel’s Das deutsche Kirchenlied…5ter Band. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1877, Nr. 121, 5. Strophe, 84.

 (4) [Original German] Loosung den 21sten Sept 1779 | Die Elenden werden wieder Freude haben am HERRN und die Armen | unter den Menschen werden fröhlich | seyn in den heiligen Israel. Jes. 29, 19. | Wenn ich dich hab so hab ich wol | Was mich ewig erfreuen soll. | Elis. Lindenmeyerin.

 (5) Birthday greeting to Jacob van Vleck (3/24/1751-7/3/1831) for 24 March 1795 by Anna Rosel Kliest. Fraktur watercolor Ms. Moravian Archives at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

 (6) Carl B. Oppelt’s watercolor is found in a scrapbook collection of drawings done by the boys of Nazareth Hall for their art exam exercises from 1793-1828 entitled “Drawings by Students of Nazareth Hall.”  The drawings were pasted to the scrapbook pages, and on the inside front cover is a printed notice about the school, ca. 1860, issued by Rev. Edward H. Reichel, Principal. Winterthur purchased the scrapbook from Parke Bernet Galleries.

(7) Hand- embroidered and painted Moravian Reticule made by M. G. of Moravian Girls Boarding School at Bethlehem, Pa. in 1807, 1980.006. Accessed 30 January 2017 at Winterthur Museum Collections,

(8) Denise Magnani. The Winterthur Garden: Henry Francis du Pont’s Romance with the Land. NY: H. N. Abrams in association with the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1995, 162.

(9) Ibid, 160.


Henry S. Borneman. Pennsylvania German Illuminated Manuscripts.  Publications of the Pennslvania German Society, vol. 46.  Norristown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1937.

Eliza Southgate Bowne.  A Girl’s Life Eighty Years Ago. New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887, 13, 172-175, 188-190.

_______________.  Letters of Eliza Southgate, Mrs. Walter Bowne.
[ New York: The De Vinne Press, 188-?], 239/414. Accessed 16 October 2016 at 

Susan Swan Burrows. A Winterthur Guide to American Needlework. Winterthur, Del.:Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1976, Fig. 16, 24.

_______________. Plain and Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1700–1850. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1995.

Ellen Gehret. This is the Way I Pass My Time:  A Book About Pennsylvania German Decorated Hand Towels. Birdsboro, Pa.:  Pennsylvania German Society, 1985, 58, 273.

  1. H. Hacker. Nazareth Hall, an Historical Sketch and Roster of Principals, Teachers and Pupils. Bethlehem, Pa.: Times Pub. Co., 1910. Accessed 13 October 2016 at

Mabel Haller. “Early Moravian Education in Pennsylvania,” in Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society. Nazareth, Pa.: Moravian Historical Society, 1953, Vol. 15.

Mabel Haller, Clifford Shipton, Howard Brinton & Arthur Middleton. Moravian Influence on Higher Education in Colonial America, n.p., 1958, reprint.

Patricia T. Herr.  “Moravian Schoolgirl Needlework in Lititz, Pennsylvania,” in The Magazine Antiques 143, no. 2 (Feb. 1993): 308-317.

_______________. The Ornamental Branches:  Needlework and Arts from Lititz Moravian Girls’ School Between 1800 and 1965 ([Lancaster, Pa.]:  Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County; Virginia Beach, Va.; Donning Co., 1996.

Kathleen Eagen Johnson. To Expand the Mind and Embellish Society: The Education, Philosophy, and Ornamental Arts of the Bethlehem Young Ladies” Seminary, 1785-1840, Thesis, Masters of Fine Arts, University of Delaware, 1978

____________________. “19th-Century Moravian Schoolgirl Art,” in Art and Antiques, vol. 3, issue 6 (Nov/December 1980): 78—83.

Thomas a Kempis. “Der Herr” in Das Buch von der Nachfolge Christi, Buch 3. Reutlingen, Germany: bey Jakob Noa fischer, 1834, 217-218, Accessed 25 October 2016 at

Friedrich Machtholf. “Gebundene Seufzer Eines mit Gott Vertrauten Herzens, gedruckt in 1795” in Karl Friedrich Ledderhoses Leben und Schriften des Gottlieb Friedrich Machtholf, Pfarrers von Möttlingen. Heidelberg: Universitätsbuchhandlung von Karl Winter, 1862, p. 51. Accessed 17 September 2016 at  

Denise Magnani. The Winterthur Garden: Henry Francis du Pont’s Romance with the Land. NY: H. N. Abrams in association with the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1995.

Del-Louise Moyer. “A Little Flower Embodies the Wisdom that was Forever with God,” Pennsylvania German Blog, Post 14, published  29 December 2016 at

Nazareth Hall Collection at Winterthur. Accessed 13 October 2016 at

Johann Friedrich Netto. Zeichen-Mahler-und Stickerbuch zur Selbstbelehrung für Damen welche sich mit diesen Künsten beschäftigen. Leipzig: Bei voss und Compagnie, 1795.

_________________. Zeichen-Mahler-und Stickerbuch zur Selbstbelehrung für Damen welche sich mit diesen Künsten beschäftigen. Leipzig: Bei Voss und Compagnie, 1795, Accessed Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek/Klassik Stiftung Weimar elektronische Reproduktion 30 January 2017 at

“Nur einer ist…” in Gesangbuch zum Gebrauch der evangelischen Brüdergemeinen. Barby, gedruckt durch Lorenz Friedrich Spellenberg, 1778, [Hymn]1344, Verse 2, Mel. 14, 650, Accessed 1 November 2016 at

William C. Reichel.  A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies, at Bethlehem, Pa….  Second ed., rev. & enl.  Philadelphia:  J. B. Lippincott, 1874; first ed., 1858, 37; 65; 66; 189-199.
Accessed 13 October 2016 at

Pennsylvania German Folk Art. Publication of The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, vol. 28, Allentown, Pa., Schlecter’s, 1966.

John Joseph Stoudt. Pennsylvania German Folk Art. Publication of the Pennsylvania

German Folklore Society, vol. 28, Allentown, Pa., Schlecter’s, 1966, 348.

Gerhard Tersteegen.  Geistliches Blumen=Gärtlein Inniger Seelen, Oder kurtze Schluß=Reimen Betrachtungen und Lieder Über allerhand warheiten des Innwendigen Christenthums;  Zur Erweckung, Stärckung, und Erquickung in dem Verborgenen Leben mit Christo in GOtt.  Nebst der Frommen Lotterie. In Teutschland zum 4ten Mahl gedruckt; und nun in America das erste Mahl Gedruckt zu Germanton bey Christoph Saur/ 1747, verso of Title Page.

Philipp Wackernagel. Das deutsche Kirchenlied…5ter Band. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1877.

Candace Wheeler. The Development of Embroidery in America. New York, London: Harper & Bros., 1982, 67-70.


All transcriptions & translations by author.  

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Simply Marvelous: Royal Events Attended by the du Ponts

This October, Winterthur is launching a new exhibition series, Eye on the Iconic. The concept behind Eye on the Iconic is to closely examine an iconic object. The first in the series is a well-known replica of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation gown, which was used on the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series The Crown. This gown allows us to explore the design and iconography of the original and helps us to understand how it became iconic and what the significance is of a replica object. While the historical and cultural significance of the original dress is self-evident, this replica is interesting because it was created for the celebration of the queen’s jubilee and was used as a costume in The Crown. A literal icon, the replica invites us to look at why commemorative objects such as the dress and coronation souvenirs play such an important role in our experience and memory of historical events.

Considering this question led me to wonder exactly how Ruth Wales and Henry Francis du Pont remembered their trips to England and their own encounters with the royal family. Their keepsakes and correspondence in the Winterthur Archives did not disappoint.

H. F.’s papers in the Winterthur Archives include postcards from various houses and gardens he visited in England. Some include notes on the back regarding what he saw. Among the social visits and trips to see various collections and gardens, the du Ponts also had the opportunity to attend some special royal occasions. Ruth recorded details of these events in her diary and letters.

Long before Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, H. F. and Ruth had attended a garden party at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., where Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, were the guests of honor to hosts Ambassador and Lady Lindsay. In a letter on June 12, 1939, Ruth recounts the June 8 party:

“Finally we heard the cheers of the populace and knew that the Royal couple were arriving at the Embassy. In a few moments Lady Lindsay and the Queen began a tour of the grounds and Sir Ronald and the King made a tour in a different direction. Everyone acted well, no one crowded around. All stood quiet and were dignified.

The Queen is simply enchanting, so charming in manner, so pretty, such poise. Everyone was wild about her. She wore the most beautiful white dress imaginable and the way she raised her hand in greeting is a gesture too charming to attempt to describe. It is not a wave or a hail, but something between the two.

The King is attractive, but cannot touch the Duke of Windsor for looks as he was ten years ago. The King is not nearly as tall as I expected. He is not a short man, but certainly not tall, and he is very slight. I should think he is very sweet and has a good deal of charm. . . . I think he looks delicate and I am terribly sorry they have had this overpowering heat to bear, for I am afraid they won’t remember much else.”

Similarly, Ruth expressed her interest in the royal family and her concern following the death of King George VI in a letter she wrote to Mrs. Lillian Best of Yorkshire, England, on May 10, 1952:

“I was delighted to hear from you and can assure you that all Americans shared your sorrow in the death of your King. We had a young Englishman here the other day, a Major Barber, who is, I believe, head of Exbury Garden (property of the Rothschild family). He is here lecturing on orchids and rhododendrons. He has travelled here from coast to coast, and told me he was very much impressed by the admiration of all Americans for your Royal Family and by the sincere expressions of their sorrow on the death of the King.”

In this letter Ruth acknowledges the American adoration of the royal family, a fascination that lives on today as Americans make a point of watching royal weddings, keeping up with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, or marking the Queen’s 91st birthday.

It seems that H. F. may have been just as enamored with the ceremony associated with England’s royal family. On June 13, 1959, the du Ponts attended the Queen’s birthday parade and witnessed the Trooping of the Color. Among the treasures in the archives, I found the tickets and the program from the event as well as a separate booklet all about the Queen’s Guards. While the Queen’s actual birthday is April 21, it is in June that the people officially celebrate her birthday with the Trooping of the Color, a parade of the queen’s personal troops and a display put on by more than 1,400 men and officers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians from 10 bands and drum corps that play as one.

What charmed me most about these keepsakes was not the image of H.F. and Ruth sitting along the parade path from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade via the Mall, but the note he inscribed on the back of the program. For H. F., the parade was “simply marvelous.”

Ruth also remembered the day and noted the special nature of the event; however, she did not seem as impressed. She recorded the event in her diary with the following description, “Up betimes on the most perfect of days as we are to go to see the Trooping of the Color. This was a wonderful experience and the regiments were wonderfully drilled and equally wonderfully rehearsed. An enormous number of spectators as well, both those in seats, and also those across the street in the St. James Park. The Queen rode at the head of the troops; the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret having driven in beforehand as spectators. I was disappointed in the selections played by the band. They played well, and at great length but the selections were unfamiliar and I thought, uninspiring.”
At other times however, Ruth does seem to have found the pomp and circumstance of these royal events just as intriguing as H. F. did. A few years later when the du Ponts visited England, they attended an Order of the Garter Ceremony. Tucked among the house and garden brochures and postcards that H. F. saved from the 1962 England trip, I found the program from the Order of the Garter service.

The Order of the Garter is one of the ancient orders of knighthood in Europe. King Edward III founded the order in 1348. Today the Queen appoints both men and women to the order, and those appointments are announced on St. George’s Day (April 23), since St. George is the patron saint of the order. Members of the order include the Queen, appointed members of the royal family, and 24 knights chosen by the Queen for their service to the public or to her. The royal family’s website explains, “The annual iconic Garter Day procession, where The Queen and the Knights process in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats, is one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Queen’s calendar.”

Ruth recognized the grand nature of this event to which the Marquess of Salisbury had given tickets to her and H. F. She wrote, “The ceremony began at 3:00 with every kind of pomp and majesty. The procession was impressive and the whole ceremony, breath-taking.”

With this fall’s exhibition of the replica coronation gown, we look at not only the fascination for the royal family that inspires shows such as The Crown, but also at the objects and memorabilia that are created to celebrate the Queen, such as this replica dress, which was originally displayed in a Harrods department store window designed to recognize the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (a 60-year anniversary).

See Royal Splendor: The Coronation Gown from The Crown, October 20, 2017–January 7, 2018, at Winterthur.

Post by Kim Collison, Manager of Exhibitions & Collection Planning, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

British Orders and Awards. Kaye & Ward Limited, 1968.

The home of the Royal Family,
“Trooping the Colour.” The Household Division: Seven British Army Regiments serving Her Majesty

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Delft Tiles, English Country Houses, Architectural Salvage, and Downton Abbey!

Blenheim Palace, panoramic view, Image by Magnus Manske

Madeline Hagerman, Winterthur postgraduate fellow in objects conservation, is researching delft fireplace tiles at Winterthur. Her series of blog posts details her findings. Read her latest post connecting England and America and the history of architectural salvage, with a nod to Downton Abbey for providing some historical (and entertaining) perspective!

Posted in antiques, Ceramics, Decorative Arts, House, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A “Crazy” Quilt and its Revolutionary (War) History

Winterthur does not always acquire objects in pristine condition, untouched by time. For some objects, the years have not been kind. At some point, they have been purposefully altered, accidentally broken, or their histories forgotten. However, in their new state, these objects take on new meanings, tell new stories, and remind us that history can sometimes be rewritten.

The Accident in Lombard-Street by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1787. Ink on laid paper. Museum purchase with funds provided by Caroline Clendenin Ryan Foundation, Inc. 1962.88a.

An extraordinary early nineteenth-century quilt featured in Winterthur’s exhibition Collecting for the Future: Recent Additions to the Winterthur Collection exemplifies how objects can be repurposed over time but still preserve fascinating information.

Quilt with inset eighteenth-century men’s cloak. Possibly made by Myranda Codner Patterson (1808-1881), possibly Ohio, early 1800s, wool. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2016.0017.

This quilt has a unique appearance and connection to the Revolutionary War. While the quilt’s checkerboard star design is fashioned from pieced brown, blue, red, and patterned wools, the majority of the object is dominated by a large semicircular red textile. This red fabric is an extremely rare late eighteenth-century men’s cloak, a piece of outerwear worn draped over the shoulders with an attached collar that folded down around the wearer’s neck.


This 1801 etching illustrates a cloak similar to the one worked into Winterthur’s quilt, with its wide, attached collar and semicircular construction. Behold, Courageous Collonel Monro, a Highland Hero, Turn’d a Blue Goun Beau by John Kay. An etching, created in Great Britain, ca. 1801. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum.

The cloak (and later the cloak quilt) descended through at least six generations in the same family before coming to Winterthur. Family lore indicates that an ancestor who fought in the northern campaign of the American Revolution captured the cloak during a battle with a British soldier and kept it as a war prize. Which ancestor and which battle is still unclear, but there are several strong possibilities.

The earliest documented family owners of the quilt are Thomas Patterson (1809–1891) and his wife, Myranda Codner Patterson (1808–1881), from Ohio. Myranda likely created the quilt in the early nineteenth century, perhaps around the time of her marriage to Thomas in 1828. However, how they came to possess the cloak is a matter of debate.

Both of Thomas’s grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War, so it is possible that one of them was the soldier who captured the cloak. However, the recollections of John Grover McGuffey (1888–1980), the great-great-uncle of the final family owner of the quilt, tell a different story. According to John, his “Grandmother Patterson” received the red cloak from her “Uncle Codner,” who moved to Ohio and died in Hardin County. Others in the family recall that Uncle Codner’s first name may have been Sam.

There are several options for the family ancestor who may have captured the cloak. Infographic by Anna South.

Recent genealogical research confirms that a Samuel Codner, born about 1769 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, moved to Ohio and died in Hardin County on March 30, 1833. This Samuel would have been too young to fight in the Revolutionary War, but his father would have been of the Revolutionary War generation. If Samuel received the cloak from his father, he then might have passed it on to his niece Myranda, who incorporated it into the quilt now at Winterthur.

Historically, it was common to recycle fabric into new projects. Quilt makers frequently recycled clothing or colorful printed fabrics into their quilt designs. For example, the now-unknown maker of a rare embroidered wool quilt in the Winterthur Collection fashioned its dark brown stripes from the fabric of heavy full-wool breeches. However, it is only through close inspection of the dark-brown fabric that we can identify it as deconstructed clothing. There is no mistaking or ignoring the red cloak in Winterthur’s new quilt! Its maker designed the rest of the quilts around the intact cloak, perhaps reluctant to cut it up in the more traditional fashion since it viscerally symbolized the victory of America’s forces over their British enemy.

The dark brown stripes of this quilt are made of wool recycled from breeches. Embroidered wool quilt, made in New England between 1800 and 1830. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1955.739.1

This quilt is not the only known object to recycle the captured clothing of a British solider into new projects. The wool from a British soldier’s coat was supposedly used to make a pair of baby shoes in the collection of the new Museum of the American Revolution. They descended in the family of Sergeant James Davenport of Massachusetts, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. A shoemaker’s apprentice before the war, Davenport rose to the rank of sergeant in General Lafayette’s Light Infantry Division by 1781. After the war, Davenport and his wife, Esther Mellish, had eleven children! Although details are scant, it’s possible that Davenport captured the British coat during the war and created the shoes for one of his children. After all, creating clothing for the next generation of Americans seems a fitting way to celebrate the nation’s victory and independence.

Baby booties potentially made from the wool cloth taken from the coat of a British soldier. Courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution.

From clothing to furnishing textile and now museum object, this reinvented item has a multilayered history, and we are thrilled to begin its next chapter here at Winterthur. Recently past and present collided when we welcomed members of the cloak quilt’s family for their first visit to Winterthur! Lee and Jane were able to see their family item on display in the galleries and spent a day exploring its new home, taking a house tour, and a garden tram tour across the estate’s 60-acre cultivated landscape. It is not an unusual occurrence to meet visitors with personal connections to the objects in our collection, and these miniature family reunions are always a treat for museum staff to witness.

Winterthur collection objects have families too! Photo by Nalleli Guillen.

The cloak quilt and other new acquisitions are now on view in Collecting for the Future: Recent Additions to the Winterthur Collection in the first floor galleries.

Post by Nalleli Guillen, Sewell C. Biggs Curatorial Fellow, Museum Collections Department, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

I would like to thank a number of people for their assistance in researching this object and writing this blog: Jane and Lee, for generously providing extensive and invaluable genealogical records and family history relating to the quilt; Neal Hurst, curator of textiles at Colonial Williamsburg for his insight on historic foul weather gear; Matthew Skic, assistant curator at the Museum of the American Revolution, for providing information on the Davenport baby shoes at MoAR; and Anna South, Winterthur’s William and Mary Woody Intern in Museum Studies, for creating the genealogy infographic.

Linda Eaton. Quilts in a Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2007).

Posted in antiques, collection, Decorative Arts, exhibition, Exhibitions, galleries, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Royal Commemorations: Celebrating Coronations and Jubilees with Objects

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Although Elizabeth ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father King George VI, the coronation ceremony was delayed to allow for a period of mourning. Coronation ceremonies have remained unchanged for nearly 1,000 years, as has the tradition of commemorating the occasions with objects such as ceramics, handkerchiefs, coins, and more. Commemorative objects are made not just for the coronation itself but for jubilee celebrations as well. These celebrations mark a monarch’s special anniversaries. February of this year marked Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee—65 years on the throne. She is the longest reigning British monarch in history and the only one to have celebrated a sapphire jubilee.

Plate commemorating the coronation of William of Orange and Mary Stuart. Made in England, ca. 1689-1694. Earthenware (delftware). Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1954.0535

Commemorative objects have been a tradition for hundreds of years. In fact, Winterthur has many such objects in its collection. Ceramic mugs and plates are commonly created to commemorate a monarch or a specific event such as a coronation. For instance, this delftware plate portrays William of Orange (who reigned from 1689–1702) and his wife Mary Stuart (who reigned from 1689 until her death in 1694). The couple, who jointly ruled the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is shown in an outdoor setting wearing their coronation attire with the initials “W M R” for William and Mary Rex/Regina near their heads. This plate was most likely made in Bristol or London around the time of William and Mary’s coronation. Evidence of delft commemorative plates like this one have been found in America, particularly in the New England region.

Similarly, a printed textile in the Winterthur collection features a more elaborate scene from the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838. The swags of flowers that surround the scene resemble those used to decorate fabrics with American patriotic motifs, and evidence of patterns showing Queen Victoria’s coronation have been found in America.

Printed textile showing the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838. Printed in Britain, 1837. Woven cotton, roller printed. Gift of Barbara and Brock Jobe 2006.0016

The ceremony as portrayed above hints at the richness of objects used during the coronation—the Crown Jewels, King Edward’s Chair, the Anointing Spoon, the elaborate robes and dresses, and much more. One of the tureens that came to Winterthur as part of the Campbell Collection was from a group of pewter tureens and other tableware created for the banquet following the 1821 coronation of George IV. This banquet, the last to take place in Westminster Hall, featured turtle soup on the menu, which may have been served in this very tureen. The Observer reported that crowds plundered the tables of the coronation banquet taking the pewter dishes like this one marked for the sovereign. The mark “GR IV” appears below a crown. Unlike the commemorative objects above, which were made for the purpose of remembering, in this case, it seems people took it upon themselves to acquire an object made to serve a purpose at the event.

Tureen. Made by Thomas Alderson. London, England, 1821. Pewter. Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens at Winterthur 1996.0004.100.001 A-C

King George IV’s monogram as it appears on the tureen.

People today continue to value such commemorative objects, and jubilees are celebrated around the world. Among the objects commemorating this year’s Sapphire Jubilee are newly issued coins and stamps. To celebrate in February of this year, the Royal Mint introduced eight coins and the Royal Mail released a Sapphire Jubilee Stamp.

Coins created in celebration of the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee this year—one featuring the Imperial State Crown and the other featuring an oak and olive branch, symbolizing the Queen’s service and faithfulness to the nation. Images from

65th anniversary commemorative stamp issued by the Royal Mail. Image from

While England has marked the Sapphire Jubilee with objects such as these, the celebrations this year have not been as grand as those in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. That year, 8.5 million people attended “Big Jubilee Lunches” in the United Kingdom and 70 countries took part in these lunches. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh went on a regional tour of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and attended various other events, including concerts, contests, and exhibitions held to celebrate the milestone.

Later this year Winterthur will feature a commemorative object created for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In 2012, Angels Costumes carefully created a replica of the Queen’s coronation gown, a dress originally designed by Norman Hartnell. The replica dress was displayed as part of the jubilee celebrations, but it has recently earned new fame as the dress worn by Claire Foy in the Netflix series The Crown. Foy wore the dress in the episode portraying the coronation.

Photo courtesy Alex Bailey, The Crown, Netflix

Visit us this fall, beginning October 20, 2017, for the first of our Eye on the Iconic exhibition series featuring a single remarkable object. Royal Splendor: The Coronation Gown from The Crown will explore how objects like the replica coronation dress and other collectibles help us celebrate and remember important historical moments.

Post by Kim Collison, Manager of Exhibitions & Collection Planning, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library



Eaton, Linda. Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens, 1700-1850. New York: The Monacelli Press. 2014.

Fennimore, Donald L., and Patricia A. Halfpenny. Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens at Winterthur. Winterthur, DE: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc. 2000.

Tanner, Lawrence E. The History and Treasures of Westminster Abbey. London: Pitkin. 1953.

Posted in Decorative Arts, exhibition, Exhibitions, galleries, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment