On Saturday, 13th October 2018, Gillian Vogelsang writes:
Since August 2018 we have had an exhibition called ‘Sherry’s American Quilts’ on display at the TRC. It includes over twenty quilts and quilt tops donated by Sherry Cook. It is a gentle exhibition with some lovely items dating from the 1830’s onwards.
A few days ago we had the great pleasure of actually showing Sherry and her husband Darwin around the exhibition. They have come all the way from their home near Portland, Oregon (USA), to hand deliver another group of quilts, which they have donated to the TRC. These ‘new’ quilts date from the 1840’s to the present day (compare TRC 2018.3121; TRC 2018.3127; TRC 2018.3118) and represent many aspects of American history and cultural heritage, as well as changing artistic tastes and textile technology.
One quilt (TRC 2018.3121) in particular will make some of our TRC colleagues very happy. It is made of sock tops and dates to the 1950’s. As many people will know the TRC is home to the Texel Silk Stocking project, in which a pair of hand knitted stockings from a ship wreck off the island of Texel, which dates to the 1640’s, is being reconstructed. The research about these socks will be presented in the autumn of 2019 in a TRC exhibition about knitting and footwear (working title: ‘Socks Galore’). Sherry’s sock top quilt will make an intriguing contribution to this exhibition.
But back to the quilt donations: Sherry, Beverly Bennett and Loren Mealey (the latter two being TRC volunteers) spent several hours going through each piece of the new donation and writing down its history. In addition, there was a long discussion about the history of American quilts and the social life. One quilt for example, which is believed to date to the 1850’s, has a group of initials and no. 12 embroidered onto it. This would indicate that it was the 12th (and final) quilt to be made and the girl could now get married.
To Sherry’s delight, Adrian Pratt, the cultural attaché from the US Embassy in The Hague, kindly found time, although with a busy schedule, to come to the TRC yesterday (12th October). He wanted to meet Sherry and to see the quilts and the exhibition, which was partly funded by the Embassy’s Small Grant Program.
We talked about the TRC plans for making a quilting centre in Leiden and show the 2000 years plus of the use of quilting to make and decorate clothing and household items. Sherry is determined that we are going to have one of the better American quilt collections in Europe, especially now she has seen the TRC. Many of the quilts donated by Sherry are now online and can be seen via the online catalogue. In addition, Sherry’s collection of quilts will form the basis of the planned TRC’s American Quilts exhibition to celebrate the Mayflower Year in Leiden in 2020.