Monday, June 12, 2017

Philadelphia Beauty or Four Frogs

The primary block in a remarkable quilt dated 1842
is this variation of a fleur-de-lis applique.

The quilt features a mourning block.

"Abby Leaming Forepaugh.
She is now dead. She cannot stir. 
Her lips are like the faded rose.
Which of us next must follow her
The Lord Almighty only knows.
Expired Jany 19, 1842
in the morning."

Abigail was 5 years old when she died, the daughter of Philadelphians John F. & Jane Leaming Forepaugh.

See more photos of this quilt in Stella Rubin's shop at 1stDibs.

The pattern was published as Philadelphia Beauty by the Ladies Art Company at the end of the 19th century.

The circular center was a perfect spot for a signature,

From Marilyn Woodin's collection

Quilt made for William Bryant Stewart and Elizabeth Sheppard Stewart,
 Plainfield, New Jersey.
 Newark Museum

The Stewarts' quilt features a similar block in the center and another variation in each of the corners. Rather than being cut from one piece each of the fleur-de-lis, each corner shape is cut as a single piece in two different fabrics - red and green.

Much like this version...

...in a sampler that was sold in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
about ten years ago. The shapes in the border
seem related to fleur-de-lis too.

Quilt dated 1852

Ruby McKim about 1930 was the first to publish the design as Fleur de Lis, French for lily. The single flower is a standardized image that once represented French royalty,

which is traditionally repeated in a half-drop set
forming a diagonal grid.

From an 1869 quilt made in Illinois

The four-way mirror image repeat design we see in American quilts went beyond Philadelphia.

Baltimore Album Quilt in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art

Contributors used a variety of geometries, all based on the four-way symmetry. 

Baltimore Album top dated 1844 made for Susan & Henry Underwood,
Smithsonian Institution.

The Ladies Art Company published a couple of related designs.
If it's green it might be Four Frogs.

If it's red---
Lobster according to Florence Peto and Delores Hinson.


Blocks might have no central shape.

Add an extra dot in the center.

Or cut stars for a central shape.

From the collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

And in this unusual block that looks to be about 1900:
Four hearts.

Print this out at 8", fold an 18" square of fabric into
quarters and cut out an applique to fit on a block 20" or larger.

It seems many people cut their own pattern.

The Criswell Quilt from the
 Chester County (PA) Historical Society's collection.


  1. Thanks for sharing all the variations on the fleur de lis block - one of my favorites! The fleur de lis is kind of a big deal where I live, so it's a popular design element all around the city.

  2. So much variety. I'm exhausted... I need to go take a nap! Thanks for another great post.

  3. The CCHS photo came from my blog, from a recent study day at the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester PA.
    The link in your post is to a quilt in a private collection in Australia.