Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

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Baltimore Businesses selling BAQs

The five stolen Baltimore Album Quilts in the last blog article were likely not recovered, since there was no subsequent article about a thief being arrested or the quilts being found. (To read previous articles on BAQS, use this link.) What did the thief do with the quilts? Perhaps what many thieves do to get cash from their ill-gotten gains…they sold to a pawnbroker.

A Baltimore Sun January 19, 1848 article notes that “Jane Brown, indicted for the larceny of a quilt, the property of Levi Benjamin.” Jane Brown entered Mr. Benjamin’s store, stashed the quilt under her shawl and walked out. On being pursued the quilt was still found on her and consequently she was found guilty and served two years in the penitentiary. The quilt was not described, but it had to have been valuable enough to warrant serving 2 years, especially given that the item was recovered.

Levi Benjamin was a pawnbroker who advertised the largest loans on goods of every description and merchandise in general. Levi started out selling secondhand furniture and became a very successful pawnbroker with more than one location. He was the wealthiest Dutch Jew in the city by the mid-1850s. He also advertised his willingness to purchase bedding as well as sell it.

Which led me to a search of pawnbrokers and auction houses in Baltimore to see who advertised selling quilts. The earliest ads for quilts were in 1843 and specifically listed patchwork besides other types of quilts. Later ads would provide more details including listing “fancy quilts” and “album quilts” for sale. The businesses selling these types of quilts included: Benjamin, A.C. Matthews, Hamilton Easter and Co. and Hoffman’s and Co.