Like American quilting, American weaving is an important part of our history. Woven blankets or coverlets were common items found in American homes since the Colonial period.
Typically cotton coverlets were produced in anticipation of a wedding or birth of a child. Wedding or bride coverlets or blankets were a necessary item in a young woman’s dowry or hope chest. Starting circa 1825 or thereabouts, major towns had a resident weaver whose job it was to make blankets and accept work on commission. The weaver may have had an apprentice and the weaver’s loom was the site of his/her business dealings. Coverlets were double woven and produced with wool and imported indigo (blues) and madder (red, brown) dyes. A traditional early 1800s woven coverlet would cost the buyer between $5 and $15. These coverlets would be woven on a four harness type loom. This simplistic loom could not easily weave complex patterns into the coverlet in America.
By the end of the first quarter of the 19th Century or circa 1825, a loom was introduced to American weavers that changed the look of coverlets. The "Jacquard" loom, named after the Frenchman who invented it, allowed intricate, complex, and beautiful designs to become part of the woven piece. A masterful aspect of using a Jacquard loom was the fact that the name of the owner, location, and date could be woven in to a new coverlet establishing the item as a valuable and historic keepsake for decades to come. Coverlets were much more commonplace than quilts in the early to mid 1800s, from about the time of the passing of President Thomas Jefferson in 1823 to the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Tips about Coverlet Values
Some of the best ways to identify the origin of a Jacquard coverlet is to just read the name, location, and date that the coverlet was made directly on the piece itself. The evidence of blood, typically from a horse or a wounded soldier, helps to authenticate the age of many of these woven blankets. Jacquard coverlets were used by families when taking long journeys on a horse drawn carriage or stage coaches and on the battlefield or in private homes. The market value for high quality Jacquard coverlets made in America range from the several hundreds of dollars to the several thousands of dollars depending on pattern, intricate details, provenance or family origin, and condition.
Get an online appraisal of your Jacquard coverlet from Dr. Lori.