Across the Pond
I love that phrase to explain the relationship between the United States and British Isles. It makes the United Kingdom seem closer to me than it geographically is. It is a good reminder about how close my nation was to the British. As King George in the Broadway smash “Hamilton” reminds us, “we have seen each other through it all.”
Because there is such a historical connection between the United States and the British Isles, it is a vital connection to remember when researching antique quilts. Although some stylistic differences have developed through time, it isn’t unusual to see or hear quilters questioning whether a quilt labeled American is British or vice versa. In research, it is nice if you can go to an original source.
The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles is a national organization (use “s” instead of “z” to be true to their spelling) formed in 1979 made up of 7,000 members with a collection of quilts that date back to 1718. The Guild was responsible for a “heritage search” similar to our state documentation projects.
Additionally their curator Heather Audin has assembled a number of exhibitions which provide a glimpse into their collection and research. The Quilters’ Guild produces exhibition catalogs and books sharing the knowledge. The most recent publication explores the family connections on quilts in the Heritage Collection with specific family provenance. Although you can purchase through the online shop, unless you live in the United Kingdom, it also means working with currency exchange and international shipping.
These books provide information that we couldn’t access elsewhere and frankly, we enjoy their work! As a service, a few years ago we began purchasing books directly from the Quilters’ Guild and shipping the books over in a group to sell on Amazon.com So the guild still receives the benefit of sales, and individuals don’t have deal with the hassles of overseas transactions. These make perfect Christmas gifts, since they can’t be purchased at easily everywhere in the US. We invite you to explore these books to learn from the curators and enjoy the quilt photos.