One of the reasons I keep returning to my local Goodwill Outlet bins is because I never know what will be found there. It truly is a giant treasure hunt, with some people hunting for gold in the book bins and others hunting for silver in the toy bins. Like me, there are those who are looking for textile treasures, so I have to really keep my eyes open and ready to spot something interesting. On a recent trip I found a plastic baggie full of what looked to be at first glance, swatches of reproductions of antique fabrics. I threw the bag in my buggy anyway to give it a closer look.
A closer examination showed that every swatch was different and they were all the same size. A previous owner had written “$5” on the baggie, and so these were left over from a sale of some sort.
While examining the pieces I noticed that on the backs were remnants of glue and even little scraps of paper. These swatches had been torn out of a sample book, was my guess.
And one was still clinging to this piece of very old paper. At this point I was convinced that these swatches were actually antique fabrics. My guess is that they were attached to a sample book or cards, and that someone removed them to use as quilt or crafting pieces. That’s the sort of act that just breaks my heart, as it removes the object from some very vital information. Who made these fabrics? When were they marketed? Are they American in origin?
It’s likely I’ll never know the answers to all my questions, but I’m sure there are some of you who can help me narrow down a date for them. Using the information and photos in Eileen Jahnke Trestain’s book, Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800 -1960 I’ve placed them in her category of 1880 through 1910. I’d like something a bit more precise.
I was amazed at the sharpness of the colors…
And the modern look to some of the designs.
There was even an early novelty print, in the form of card suits.
There were several prints that were made in different colorways.
About half of the swatches have a black background, but there are also some pretty, light prints in pink and white.
And then, as now, black and white prints were a favored combination.
So please, if you can shed some light on the age of these lovely little pieces, post and enlighten this mid-century girl. I’d also like suggestions on what to do with them. Should I put them back in a book where they belong? Pactchwork is out of the question!