The blue-and-white Jacquard coverlet turned up in an antique mall, in a wicker basket half filled with textiles. It was only half a coverlet, actually. And, I didn’t recognize the corner block, a stylized four-petal flower. On top of all of that, there was wear to the central design.
Yet, the border made up for all the shortcomings. Boldly standing out among buildings and trees were American flags. The coverlet went home with me.
Although flags aren’t unknown on coverlets, they’re not common. I assumed a quick Google search would provide me with information on the maker. I was wrong.
My initial search turned up nothing. I also drew blanks leafing through the pages of Weaving a Legacy: The Don and Jean Stuck Coverlet Collection by Clarita S. Anderson (1995, Columbus Museum of Art/Harry N. Abrams). However, I found what I was looking for in A Checklist of American Coverlet Weavers by John W. Heisey (1978, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation). Deep into the book was an illustration of the border on my coverlet.
The caption noted, “Coverlet border design with castlelike buildings, a church, houses, large American flags, and palm trees; double weave in a blue wool and white cotton. Attributed to the Hay Weaving Shop, Batavia, Ohio, ca. 1845. Clermont County Historical Society, Batavia, Ohio.”
The checklist, compiled for the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, provided the following information about Hay Weaving Shop. “This shop was in operation around 1845 at Second and Spring streets, Batavia, Ohio (Clermont Co.), according to the Clermont County Historical Society, Batavia. The weavers working there are not known.” Only one coverlet, an undated example, was recorded in the survey.
A call to the Clermont County Historical Society wasn’t returned, so I went back to the Internet.
A Google search for Hay Weaving Shop produced several hits. American Coverlets and Their Weavers: Coverlets From the Collection of Foster and Muriel McCarl by Clarita Anderson lists Hay Weaving Shop as the maker of a coverlet dated 1845 and having the company name in the corner block. Undated coverlets were also made, according to the book.
I also found a Hay Weaving Shop coverlet sold by Garth’s Auctions on Feb. 25, 2005. Of the same pattern as my half coverlet, that full version, measuring 66 by 85 inches and having minor stains, sold for $977 (with buyer’s premium).
The scarcity of coverlets from Hay Weaving Shop likely contributed to the price, but the flags in the border were also of importance. From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, those flags give the coverlet a strong decorative element.
That flag border is a great slice of Americana, one that deserves more research.