The top of this pieced quilt is composed of hexagons of multicolored and patterned fabrics typical of the 1840s, including some rainbow prints. The hexagons are about two inches per side, except for a small six-pointed star at the center, which is made up of one-half inch- per-side hexagons. There is quilting in parallel diagonal lines in the printed fabric hexagons and in various flower and star forms in the white cotton hexagons. The quilt has a plain white woven cotton back and cotton batting.
This “Honeycomb” or hexagon quilt, along with two others in the Museum’s collection (1980.498.2 and 1980.498.3) were made by Rebecca Davis, grandmother of the donor, Mrs. Andrew Galbraith Carey. It is signed in the center of the schematic flower at the far right, second row from the bottom. The inscription, handwritten in black ink, reads: “Rebecca Davis/1846/March.” Although the other two quilts are not signed, we can assume that they were also made sometime around 1846, since all three share some of the same fabrics.
Most of the fabrics sewn into these quilts appear to be English printed cottons, an attribution confirmed by the sections of English design-registration marks visible on a number of the pieces. Some of the pieces in this quilt are vividly colored rainbow prints, a type of fabric that gained great popularity in the 1840s. Its rainbow-like appearance is due to a special process used to spread the dye of the ground color in stripes that shade from light to dark.
[Peck 2015; adapted from Amelia Peck, "American Quilts & Coverlets in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 2007]
Inscription: handwritten in ink in center of a lower righthand rosette: Rebecca Davis / 1846 / March