Part of the fun of finding a treasure at the thrift store is learning a little more about it. There’s a thrill to searching for an artist’s signature or a maker’s mark, and it’s so fun to put together a story for how an item came to be at a thrift store in Eugene, Oregon or Anchorage, Alaska – or wherever you may be. We thought we’d share the stories of a couple thrifted goodies with you today – happy Monday!
I recently found this stoic lady at a thrift store for $10.
I was drawn to her fancy gown and her serene but direct face. I brought her home, gave her a place of honor in the living room, and started trying to find out more about her.
It turns out she is Margaret Bernard Peyton, first wife of Thomas Peyton. This is a rubbing from a brass plate in the St. Andrew’s Church in Isleham, Cambridgeshire.
She is also known as the “Lace Lady” because of her ornate gown (the second wife of Thomas Peyton is less ornately adorned).
Margaret Peyton died in 1445 at the age of 25 following the birth of her fourth child.
I love to think about how this rubbing made its way to a thrift store in Alaska, and I’m really glad she’s living with us now. I love her!
About six years ago I was at a thrift store on the Oregon coast that had a truly remarkable fabric selection. (After just a single visit the store disappeared, but every time I drive that way I hope to see it appearing from the Oregon mist – a thrifter’s Brigadoon.) I bought this delightful folk-art pattern that day, and used it to make throw pillows.
Those ostriches! The red wing blackbirds! The colors! One day, when looking at a favorite design book, Details by Lili Diallo, I saw my beloved fabric in a different colorway:
I was so excited, but unfortunately the book doesn’t contain any information about the fabric itself. I resigned myself to loving it without understanding it (a difficult but important lesson) until about a month ago, when a familiar pattern in a pile of thrift store frames caught my eye. I was in a mad rush that day, so I just snapped a photo of the poster – elated that I’d finally have search terms to learn more.
The photo quality sucks, but that information? Priceless.
The images on my pillows are from a quilt top made by an unknown person around the time of the Civil War. It’s also called the Civil War Bride’s Quilt, and there are a number of blogs devoted to a whole host of ambitious quilters who are replicating the design. Here’s a recently-completed version of the quilt (in insanely beautiful colors):
It’s speculated that the paired animals, fruits and foliage are symbols of union and fertility, and that some of the other quilt blocks depict current events from the time. The block with the elephant is thought to be Hannibal, who escaped his keeper and went on a rampage in Brooklyn in 1859. Here’s another modern version of the quilt, but this one includes a male figure in the top row:
In the original quilt, on display at the Museum of American Folk Art, only the woman is depicted. Apparently a newspaper template of the groom was found with the quilt, but never finished. My morbid, romantic heart agrees with those who say that the quilt was never completed because some tragedy occurred before the wedding could take place.
I still can’t find the fabric with the printed motif like my pillows, but it’s fun to know more about the history of the images and to learn about a whole subculture devoted to recreating it!
Thanks for joining us – come back on Wednesday for a collection of ideas for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts!