May 16, 2015

Two Lesser-Known Rebecca Scattergood Savery Quilts - Part 1

Those of you familiar with the name Rebecca Scattergood Savery (1770-1855) most likely associate her with the three spectacular Sunburst quilts she made, perhaps based on kaleidoscope images, and each containing thousands of diamond-shaped pieces.  These quilts currently reside at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York, and the Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library in Winterthur, Delaware.  (Go to|1 to see her Sunburst quilt at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

Less well known are two of her quilts - both inscribed friendship quilts - at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Another similar quilt, owned by the Museum of American Folk Art and dated 1844, has been attributed to Elizabeth Hooten (Cresson) Savery because the name "E.H. Savery" appears on its center block.  It is possible that Rebecca and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth, who married Rebecca's oldest son William, both participated in its creation.  (Refer to our post of March 1, 2014 for a photograph and description of the inscribed friendship quilt at the Museum of American Folk Art.  One of the ink drawings on this quilt depicts Penn's Treaty based on Benjamin West's painting titled "Penn's Treaty with the Indians.")

Today's post deals with the first of the two quilts belonging to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.  This quilt, part of the Ardis and Robert James Collection, is also dated 1844.  It measures 118.5 inches by 114 inches and is comprised of eighty-five six-pointed, mosaic patchwork, star blocks set en pointe.  The hexagons at the centers of the star blocks are inscribed with names in ink and also contain several ink illustrations.

Star Signature Quilt made by Rebecca Scattergood Savery (IQSC 1997.007.0118).
Photograph courtesy of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska.

The center block of this quilt contains the name Cyrus Cadwallader (1763-1848).  He was eighty-one years old in 1844 and the oldest person named on the quilt.  He was also a prominent citizen who served as a state Senator for Pennsylvania from 1816-1825.  The names of six other members of his family are also inscribed on this quilt which may or may not have been made as a tribute to him.

Eight of the quilt's star blocks display the inscription "Rebecca Savery/Aged 74".  The names of another fourteen Savery family members appear on the quilt along with the names of fifteen Scattergood and ten Cope family members.  Several Scattergoods married Cadwalladers, Saverys, and Copes so the quilt is not only a friendship quilt but also documents a network of families who were members of the community of Religious Society of Friends that existed in the Delaware Valley area in Philadelphia and, by extension, to the east of Philadelphia across the Delaware River into New Jersey.

Quilt maker Rebecca Scattergood Savery was from an early Quaker family who migrated from England and settled in Burlington County, New Jersey in the late 1600s.  She was born in Philadelphia on July 29, 1770 to John Scattergood (1742-1776) and his wife, Elizabeth Head (1749-1836).  On November 14, 1791, Rebecca married Thomas Savery (1751-1819), the son of William Savery (1721 or 22- 1789) who would become one of Philadelphia's most renowned cabinet and chair makers.  Thomas was a carpenter as well, following in his father's trade as furniture maker.  Rebecca and Thomas had five children between 1798 and 1810:  William (1798-1858); Mary (1800-1869); Thomas (1802-1860); Elizabeth (1806-1860); and, Sarah (1810-1832).  The earliest quilt attributed to Rebecca is dated 1827, seventeen years after the birth of her last child.
William Savery chairs on display in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Source of image:  Wikimedia Commons.
The article by Mimi Sherman cited below comments on the British fabrics used in Rebecca Scattergood Savery quilts and the influence of British quilt making techniques represented by Rebecca's Sunburst and star signature quilts.  During the late 1600s through the mid-1800s, Delaware Valley Quakers from England maintained close ties with the London Yearly Meeting and engaged in seafaring trade that facilitated the import of British fabrics and the use of the English mosaic patchwork techniques so expertly used in Rebecca's quilts.
Detail of quilt IQSC 1997.007.0118.  Elizabeth Savery block with ink
depiction of a bee hive and her name inscribed on a ribbon that crosses it. 
 Photograph courtesy of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.
Several members of Rebecca's family, including her grandfather Joseph Scattergood (1713-1754) and, by marriage, Thomas Pym Cope (1768-1854) and his sons, established commercial seafaring businesses moving people, products and, in the case of the Cope Packet Line, mail between the east coast of America to England and back.  In particular, the crossing frequency of the Cope Packet Line, with three packet ships in transit at all times, provided ample opportunity for Rebecca and other family members to obtain British fabrics for their clothing and quilt making activities.
The tombstone of Joseph Scattergood, Rebecca Scattergood Savery's grandfather,
in the Friends Burying Grounds, Burlington Monthly Meeting, Burlington, New Jersey.
Source of image:  Joseph's wife, Rebecca Watson Scattergood,
erected this stone which reads:  "On the 30th day of July 1754 died Joseph Scattergood, Esq. aged
40 years, And the next day was interred here, He was a Husband Loving & Beloved, A Tender parent
 A Kind Relative, A Sincere & Faithful Friend a Good Master, an Honest Man.  This Stone is placed
over his Grave by his Mournfull [sic] Widow as a Tribute Justly due to his Memory."
The topic of our next post will be the second Rebecca Scattergood Savery signature quilt at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, and the British-style mosaic patchwork technique used in its construction.
Sources: census, death, Public Family Tree, and Quaker meeting records accessed 5/10/2015.
Long, Bridget.  Elegant Geometry: American and British Mosaic Patchwork.  Lincoln, NE: International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 2011.
Priddy, Sumpter.  "American Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts, 1790-1840" an article for the Decorative Arts Trust at
Related research notes provided by the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska.  Our thanks to Carolyn Ducey, Curator of Collections, for sharing this material.
Sherman, Mimi.  "A Fabric of One Family: A Saga of Discovery" in The Clarion (Spring 1989, Vol. 14, No. 2), pp. 55-62.  New York: The Museum of American Folk Art.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting about this quilt. I am presently making a reproduction of it, as I just fell in love with the quilt the first time I saw a photo of it.