Monday, August 15, 2011

Quilt provenance or what i learned


at the Antiques Road Show. Ille and I went to Roadshow when it visited Atlanta recently...it was a blast even though our feet hurt and our stuff was NOT well shall i say going to pay for our retirement...hmm it wouldn't even pay for our gas lol



Great great grandfather's NOT confederate money that we were to keep FOREVER because the Sawth would rise again...did i say some kind of premium from cereal or bread or uh well you fill in the blank....old but NOT valuable
and these "nickels" uh dare i say a page out of an old ration book?? ALSO NOT valuable...



we got to sit with the appraisers as "appraisers" right at the end of filming...all the crowds had gone and Ille was making a beeline for an antique Marie Antoinette style dress silk brocade they were stuffing with tissue and getting ready to film...the director asked her to go sit down and be an "appraiser" and when i tried to follow saying I am with her aka Ille...the director said go sit at the table too:> ...that was probably the highlight of our time there...


we talked to a very nice appraiser named Matthew...the other appraisers were picking on him about his purple checked shirt and bright light blue tie... did you know they wear "costumes" aka "their looks" for the show...the poster guy was there in 100 degree heat in a three piece purple plaid wool suit...sounds worse than it was ...the toy guy ALWAYS wears a mickey mouse tie...Matthew's look is this purple gingham checked shirt and electric blue tie



we had had a big conversation about provenance in the print line with the people ahead of us...the lady had bought a basket from a famous basket maker on SapeloIsland down by Savannah but because of all the Chinese basket imports that look quite similar the only way hers will ever be valuable is if she has paperwork of some kind on the basket- like the check she bought it with...She bought it 20 years ago so HOW will she EVER do that...and the basket maker is dead so he can not give her a letter saying YES that is my basket signed Charles Green

I asked our new BFF Matthew about the provenance of our quilts since there are also a lot of Chinese quilts...

you and i, dear reader, know the difference but do other people like appraisers somewhere in the future of Antiques Road Show know the difference??...


Evidently those much touted labels that quilters are so fond of saying you MUST do will NOT do...To quote our new friend Matthew "anyone can take a pen and sign it" aka those annoying labels...Matthew said programs from quilt shows and of course pictures would provide provenance and i thought FAT chance i will document my quilts like that or that my kids would not throw out all those valuable papers when i am gone and they are cleaning out this river house.


Now I LOVE to quilt my name into a quilt and sometimes the date and SOMETIMES even the place like Augusta GA...I just think its fun and I LOVE to "write" on a quilt when i quilt it.

I asked him would quilting your name into the quilting work ...and he said yes...one problem solved lol!!!

So from now one...save yourself all that paperwork trouble and just learn to quilt your name into your quilt. I would think that IF you must use a label, add it to the back BEFORE you quilt it so that the dreaded label is quilted into the quilt.

4 comments:

Michigoose said...

Actually, Maggie, he oversimplified it..probably for common consumption. Provenance is the history of the piece....how it came to be where it is. Yes, the supporting documentation is the bill of sale, etc. In the case of 18th century furniture for example, as a curator we went backwards to see how the piece was passed from one person to another. The documentation, that is the wills, bills of sale, etc., proved the history and makes the piece without question.

In the case of quilts, it is not quite as the person pointed out that it was similar to ones made in China...the signature would be compared to the artist's signature and yes, the original owner could make a notarized statement saying that the piece was purchased at thus and such a place....even a letter kept with the piece, with any other details would help, but it isn't as imperative as you'd think. Yes, having that documentation is useful and might increase the value, but for most items the amount it increases isn't as important.

It is also incorrect to say that the labels on the back of the quilt don't increase the value. They do. Without a doubt. And yes, I do put the label on the quilt THEN quilt the quilt as in some cases, especially with reproduction quilts using reproduction fabrics, it is possible that a modern hand made piece would be "de-labeled" If the label is quilted into the piece, then there is no question. The quilt would bear the marks of removing the quilting and the label's disappearance.

Of course, since the value of quilts overall have dropped so significantly over the last few years, I'm not sure how much this would really come into play. A masterpiece is a masterpiece...but the correct attribution which can be followed by checking signatures, just as in the case of a painted masterpiece, is the same process. For many of the art quilts we make, it's quite obvious.

Not putting a label on or not signing the piece, whether in the quilting or even in the binding or some other hidden place is just nuts...I am proud of my work and want people to be able to trace it back to me, and I also want to make it quite apparent that the piece is mine if it were lost or stolen. Lisa Quintana (who up until 2005 was a professionally trained museum curator).

YankeeQuilter said...

People wonder why I get so excited when they bring a quilt to be appraised or documented and they have a photo of the woman who made the quilt with needle in hand in the quilt in the frame...and the day I can't tell your quilt from a quilt made in China will be the day H**l freezes over! Jus' sayin....

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Excellent! So nice to have a definitive answer. Sounds like you had so much fun ... I'm jealous! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Sandra said...

As a certified quilt appraiser, I beg you: please don't stop labeling! Anyone could sign- is true of most documentation. A quilt label gives researchers, appraisers, families, etc. a lot of precious information and a giant starting point. The label info still needs to be investigated, especially if it appears to be added later-- so quilting thru the label is good.