Crazy Quilt, ca. 1880
I believe I've brought in an embroidered crazy quilt. And I think it's old, but I don't know how old. I purchased it at an estate sale, the second day of an estate sale.
And how much did you pay for it?
Well, the first day, they wanted six dollars, and so I got it half off, three dollars.
You got it for three dollars?
Well, pieces such as this are called crazy quilts, and they were made all over the United States, so it's not regional, and they are made primarily of silk fabric, and they were done in America right around 1880, 1890. This is the craziest crazy quilt I have ever seen. It is just an absolute explosion of graphics and colors and forms. We have the signature of the maker right down here. And it's a woman by the name of Lucy Cox. And it's interesting that she signed it in such small letters, although she did put a big "L" over here, possibly for "Lucy." The iconology and the symbols on here are really influenced by both Japanese art that's coming into America and the aesthetic movement that's coming into America at that point in time, and the need to be symmetrical is no longer mandatory. And I think the maker of this quilt clearly embraced those theories. In terms of valuation, do you have any idea what your three-dollar investment is, nowadays?
Well, I've only made a couple of quilts myself, and I looked at this and I thought, "Holy cow!" There are hours and hours-- hundreds of hours-- in this, so labor-wise, I knew it would be very intense. $200 or $300?
Well, crazy quilts, we see a lot of them, and typically, the problem with them that holds their value down or makes them in some cases unsaleable is the fact that the silk fabric starts to shred. So condition is a key factor. You're looking at maybe the top one percent of the crazy quilts here, because the condition is marvelous and it is just, as I said, a visual delight, a visual explosion, and very, very labor-intensive. So, in today's market, a retail value would be somewhere in the $4,000 to $5,000 range.
Oh, my gosh! Really?
It would, indeed. It is special and really exceeds the value of most crazy quilts.
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Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
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