Monday, October 7, 2019

Spiky Fans

I've been going through my fan pictures and I'm surprised to find how few published patterns featured these fans with triangular points.

I've got several in BlockBase but they are not 19th century publications.

This is a late arrival in the Ladies's Art Company catalog,
in the 1928 version but not the 1898 edition.

Spiky-edged fans were certainly being made
in the mid-to-late 19th century. This one from a Jeffrey Evans Auction.

You just have to know where to look for them....

The quilt with its Portuguese striped chintz border looks to be 1840s

...In Rocky Mountain quilts with pieced sashing.

Shephard family, 1880-1920
Arkansas, Collection Arkansas State Museum

Not that the pattern for the block and the set was published until the mid-20th century

when Mountain Mist published it as New York Beauty.

Which probably horrified more than one Southern quilter
who considered it a regional design: Crown of Thorns or Rocky Mountain.

One interesting detail about these spiky fan designs before 1920 or so is that the fans are in the corners, not divided into quarters as most regular old fan blocks were constructed.

A regular old fan

Julie Silber's inventory 1860-1900
You also see this version of double spikes in the mid- to late-19th century but there is no published source for a fan design like this.

See a post on Whig's Defeat quilts constructed like this:

Whig's Defeat quilts were also constructed like the Rocky Mountain with
a patchwork sashing.

Source? Looks like early 20th century?

The rules seem to have been:
Single spikes for Rocky Mountain
Double spikes for Whig's Defeat

Patterns scarce until recently when innovative quilters started digitally designing and printing of these challenging blocks.

I was going to add some Mohawk Trail/Baby Bunting quilts but they are going to have to wait till next week.


  1. Well, I'll go on record as being one of those Southern quilters who is horrified that this traditional Southern pattern got hijacked and re-named New York Beauty! The reasoning seems to be that it resembles the crown on the Statue of Liberty, but I figure that the people at Mountain Mist were too lazy to do their research. However, I'll even concede that people have a right to call a quilt anything they want to, and also that many of the modern New York Beauty quilts, like the one on Stone's book, bear little resemblance to the traditional Crown of Thorns/Rocky Mountain Road quilts, so I don't have quite as much problem with those. But I truly wish people would refrain from calling a traditional quilt by this new name. If it was made before 1920 it isn't a New York Beauty!

    1. Joy Branham, I agree with you! Names matter, and the difference between New York Beauty and the Rocky Mountain Road and older traditional names is important. The latter denote a cultural tradition; the other a commercial product. Like you, I suggest we overcome the push to obscure the two lines, a push that derived largely from a vanity project.