Overall: 80 x 61 in. (203.2 x 154.9 cm)
White cotton filet crochet handmade bedcover commemorating the American Centennial. Worked into the open mesh that serves as the ground is an image of Lady Liberty surrounded by portraits of the first eighteen U.S. presidents. Liberty holds the staff of an unfurling American flag and a shield, which bears the dates 1776 and 1876. She is flanked by an American eagle and standing on a base emblazoned with the legend "Genius of America." Above her, float the letters "U.S." Arranged clockwise around the border are busts of the American presidents from Washington to Grant, indicating their dates of inauguration. Each presidential portrait is enclosed in an eight-pointed star. The circle of presidents is wreathed by a pattern of stylized leaves and berries. The entire coverlet is fringed with a crocheted border.
Crochet, a decorative form of knitting that produced durable lace, was often referred to as the pastime of German women. By the mid-ninetenth century, the industrial revolution had made readily available the tools and printed patterns necessary for crochet, which became a craze among society ladies as well as schoolgirls. Women expressed themselves through "fancywork," endowing these objects with their own values and sentiments. This crochet bedcover was made from a pattern (at least one other example from the same pattern is in the collection of the Smithsonian). The patriotic design reflects the first round of the Colonial Revival movement that swept the nation in 1876. The maker, Anna Mary Schroeder Schweckendick, was born in Germany in 1829 and came to New York as a young woman in 1844. She married Henry A. Schweckendick, also a German immigrant, who arrived in New York in 1849. He became a prosperous entrepreneur in the liquor trade and came to own many properties in the city, including the family home at 467 West 57th Street. The bedcover descended in the family to the donor.
Gift of Linda Cassidy
Anna Mary Schweckendick (1829-1909); to her youngest daughter, Lillian Schweckendick Fastenau (1875-1919); to her daughter, Florence Fastenau Lord (1894-1969) to her daughter, Geraldine Lord Weller (1924-1995); to her cousin Mary McGowan Laird (b. 1928); to her daughter Linda Laird Cassidy (b. 1948), the donor.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.