Overall: 84 x 70 in. (213.4 x 177.8 cm)
woven in corners: "J. CUNNINGHAM / WEAVER / NEW HARTFORD"
Woven wool and cotton blue and white two-piece double cloth Jacquard coverlet; floral motifs surrounding central medallion; arms of New York woven in each of the four corners: the figures of Liberty holding a staff topped with a Phrygian cap, and Justice wearing a blindfold and holding a sword and scales flanking a shield topped by an eagle on a globe; the figures stand atop a banner with the state motto 'Excelsior.' Weaver's name and town woven in corners.
Woven wool and cotton coverlets were popular bedcoverings in 19th-century American homes. Early coverlets were typically woven at home by women, but by the late 1820s professional weavers were turning out coverlets in rural communities throughout the East Coast and Midwestern states. New York weavers, typically trained in England or Scotland, produced some of the most sophisticated figural coverlets in the United States. The intricate patterns of "fancy" coverlets were made possible by the 1804 invention of the Jacquard mechanism in France, in use in America by the mid-1820s. Attached to the top of the loom frame, the Jacquard mechanism uses a system of punched cards and hooks that direct the loom to raise or lower individual warp threads. A precursor to the computer, the Jacquard loom represented a major technological advance as well as a catalyst for design innovation. The weaver of this coverlet, James Cunningham, was born in Scotland in 1793 and came to New Hartford, Oneida County, after 1820, where he had a shop behind his house on Oxford Road. He is best known for his patriotic coverlets depicting Washington on horseback in the corners and eagles with outspread wings around the borders. Cunningham's dated coverlets were made between 1834 and 1848.
Diane Thomas Nash; her mother, Edith Marie Ramsey Thomas; her husband's aunt, Bertha Tuttle Porter (1885-1968); her husband, William F. Porter (ca. 1860-1944). William's mother, Angie, born in 1812, may have been the coverlet's original owner.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.