Embroidered coverlet

Attributed to A. P. Lalkers American

Not on view

By the late nineteenth century, many women were sewing for pleasure rather than purely out of necessity, and a number of needlework companies were formed in response to their desire for more creative possibilities. Our 1898 coverlet and pillow sham are embroidered in silks following a pattern stamped in blue on the linen base. Many companies offered a wide variety of prestamped objects—mats, table scarves, throws, and coverlets—patterned primarily with semi-naturalistic flowers. The Brainerd & Armstrong Company of New London, Connecticut, for example, published a pattern book in 1899 titled "Embroidery Lessons," which gave women instruction on embroidery techniques and offered them a chance to purchase stamped goods for all the projects illustrated in the book. In their book, the company listed coverlet kits that produced goods that probably were quite similar to our piece:

"Bedspreads of our Silk-Faced Counterpanes.

The stamping is done on Cream Colored, Silk Faced Counterpane goods, made in our own mills. There is nothing more elegant than one of these spreads after the embroidery is completed. They make splendid wedding gifts. Design No. 200 consists of Fleur de Lis (or Iris) stamped on a spread 82 x 90- inches in size. Prices are: Stamped Spread, $12.50; Commenced Spread, $20.00; Finished Spread, $35.00."

Although our coverlet is not a completely original work of art, it yields interesting information about the popular trends and designs of the later years of the nineteenth century. The colors of the silks used to embroider this piece, for instance, resemble the colors of the naturally dyed wools used by Ruth Culver Coleman when she embroidered her coverlet (61.48.1) nearly 125 years earlier. The iris design shows the influence of Japanese art in both subject matter and form, while the curving whiplash lines of the border design owe their conception to the Art Nouveau style that was blossoming on the European continent. Although A. P. Lalkers, the coverlet's embroiderer, did not design the pattern herself, she had good reason to be proud of the painstaking job she had completed so beautifully.

Embroidered coverlet, Attributed to A. P. Lalkers, Linen and cotton embroidered with silk, American

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