1898 signature antique quilt top with 493 different names 3 are former presidents

Oct 31, 2020. 19:47 UTC
1898 Signature Antique Quilt Top with 493 Different NAMES 3 are former Presidents
United States of America


Acquired from

For sale

As shown, is an actual "signature fundraiser" quilt top that started in Memphis Tennessee in 1898 and appears to have traveled all the way up into Georgetown Kentucky. Quilt top measures 75x64 inches in size. All names appear to be embroidered on the quilt. Included in these names are three former Presidents, Thomas Jefferson James Madison, and Grover Cleveland along with other note-able personal from history. We spent eleven hours actually going over the complete quilt block by block and making a list of all names, cities, and dates. All 493 different names are provided for you in the shown 3 photo's in a typed out list, broken down block by block of the quilt. The quilt top has a total of 72 squares, 9 down, 8 across. Only 3 remain still blank. Had these three squares been filled with names, the quilt would have exceeded over 500 different names on it. As previously mentioned the quilt started it's journey 122 years ago in Memphis, with who we believe was a Ms. Maggie Crenshaw. We have been able to trace it by searching the names in the list as it appears to have traveled out of Memphis across Tennessee to Nashville up through Glasgow, and Owensboro Kentucky, and appears to have stopped some 34 years later in 1932 in Georgetown Kentucky. The date "1932" does appear a few times on the quilt, as well as the city names of Owensboro, and Georgetown. We have verified the names of 8 people in our town of Glasgow Kentucky. Oddly enough, at the time of these people living, they all lived on the same street in a very wealthy portion of town. They were also people of great importance in our community. As mentioned, the quilt top was never finished, so it remains a quilt "top". It has been extremely well cared for, and has no stains, rips, or tears. So for it's age and to be fabric, it is in incredible condition. I do have correspondence with the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln Nebraska showing were they immediately offered payment of $5,000 to acquire the quilt. Currently at the present time we have held off on selling it to them for that price, as we have received other appraisals showing it's value between $15,000 to $20,000.


Was acquired from the estate of a former life-long historian who lived in Nashville Tennessee. This gentleman was very interested in the civil war, and had numerous collectible items from the war itself in his home. Quilt top had been neatly folded and placed inside 2 pillowcases and then was in an air-tight shrink wrapped type plastic for preservation.

Answered within 36 minutes
Oct 31, 20:23 UTC
By Delia

Fair Market Value

$10,000 - $15,000 USD

Insurance Value

$25,000 USD
What does this mean?

Hi Bryan,

Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry.
This is a wonderful and largely unique quilt; most "signature" quilts have the names written in INK rather than sewn in as yours have been, which is rather astonishing given that would have taken so much more time on the part of the "signer."
Your quilt top ALSO features more signatures than on any quilt that's come to market in recent years. As you will probably have guessed, this quilt has great "historical" value but that does not always translate into a great "market" value unless more than one potential buyer "comes to the table" with an interest in buying this.
If you want to sell this, I would strongly recommend working with an auction house that a) has a track record of strong sales of American Southern decorative arts and b) will take the valuable information you've amassed and use it to promote and sell this on your behalf (Cowan's, Brunk's, Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc., and Pook & Pook are some of the firms who know the collectors, dealers and museums with the deepest pockets). The following are examples of quilts that have signatures, though stylistically are quite unlike yours.
($3,600) https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/66217165_a-very-fine-album-and-signature-quilt-having-the-name
($1,800) https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/56363915_1896-signature-quilt-soldier-orphans
($13,000) https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/16987986_broderie-perse-friendship-quilt-inscribed-sar

Based on the photos and information provided, and subject to examination, this is:

A pieced and embroidered cotton "signature fundraising" quilt top
began in Memphis, Tenn in 1898, 'finished' in Georgetown, KY in 1932
The blue and white quilt top featuring 493 different names, including Presidents Jefferson & Madison
72 blocks, 75 by 64 inches
PROVENANCE: acquired from the estate of a Nashville, Tenn., historian
CONDITION: appears to be in a remarkable state of preservation
*represents a conservative fair-market value for auction purposes; retail or asking price may vary.

Bryan smith Oct 31, 20:59 UTC

Thank you so much for your immediate response on my request for an appraisal estimate on the signature quilt top. I do plan on selling the piece, as I am not a collector, so I will reach out to the auction houses that you included in your report. I do plan on using your company's services again in the very near future. Thank you again - Bryan Smith

Delia Oct 31, 21:22 UTC

Always happy to help!

Bryan smith Nov 21, 01:05 UTC

Hello, after finding out more history on this quilt top, along with the name of former President Grover Cleveland on the quilt, we also sought out an appraisal from valuemystuff.com We have attached a copy of their appraisal of the quilt. We have also been able to verify by speaking to descendants of the women who started this quilt. It was started by the first Tennessee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. With this new information, should I request another paid appraisal on this quilt top to help in determining it's best price for resale, as we would like to sell the quilt top. Thank you

Delia Nov 21, 16:19 UTC

Hi Bryan,
The disadvantage of a private / direct sale is that once you ask a price, it's impossible to negotiate a higher price, whereas with auction, the price is competitive and the piece finds its "fair-market" value. I might put a slightly higher value on this - $10,000-15,000 - but in the current state of the market for Americana, I would not recommend valuing this higher than that as you would risk over-pricing it then, if it doesn't sell, it's considered 'burned' and you might have to wait a while before reoffering it at auction, and even then it would be offered at a lower estimate. Let me know if you'd like me to increase the value on this to $10/15,000.
A suggestion that won't cost you additional money would be to reach out to a couple of auction houses who deal extensively with Southern decorative arts and ask what they think the value of this is. There shouldn't be any charge, nor any commitment to consign. The auction houses you might contact are Brunk Auctions (Asheville, NC), Cowan's (Cincinnati, OH) and Jeffrey S. Evans (Mt. Crawford, Va). All have extensive experience selling Southern quilts, know the right collectors and dealers, and have a national, if not international reach, for this as well as long-standing relationships with institutions that might be interested in this. You could even reach out to all three, ask what fees they'd charge, etc.
Let me know if you have other questions, and confirm if you'd like me to adjust my value.

Bryan smith Nov 21, 23:25 UTC

Thank you so much for your reply. I do have one credit I can use if you would like, and want to change the value on the quilt to 10-$15,000. Thank you so much.

Delia Nov 21, 23:41 UTC

I've made the change to the estimate; it's not necessary to use your credit as this is the same item. Feel free to use it on another item.

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