Discover Vintage America - AUGUST 2018

Old meets new: Antique quilt collecting and Facebook

While it seems like antique quilts and quilt collectors would have little in common with cyber nerds, in reality quilt collecting has become high tech. The collector of the 21st century is as likely to find quilts online as at a shop or from a flea market. Today's quilt historian is often more at home with online research materials than her 20th-century counterpart was with books and reference card catalogs.

1850s Signature Quilt from Bucks County, PA (Sandra Starley Collection)

Some of the most spirited discussions of antique quilts and quilt history today happen on Facebook, especially in specialty quilt collecting groups. Facebook groups, unlike personal pages or business pages, allow for in-depth discussions between group members. They are also great for quilt research as you can search prior topics. And pictures of quilts can be shared easily, which greatly facilitates discussions. Most of us will remember being on group email lists and trying to visualize quilts from words alone because the lists didn't allow attachments.

To my knowledge, the largest Facebook group focused on antique quilts and quilt history is "Quilts-Vintage and Antique" hosted by Lynn Evans Miller. The group has almost 3,400 members and every day there is some new treasure being shared, discovered and appreciated. There are always new topics and thoughtful debates about the origins, and ages of quilts shared by members.

There are often cheers of joy as a new collector finds out that her $20 eBay purchase is a rare treasure or that a family quilt is many decades older than originally believed. At other times, there are tears as a beginner learns that her recent antique buy is not an American antique, but is a mass-produced Chinese import from the 1990s. Quilts-Vintage and Antique is NOT a selling group but posts of wonderful quilts have led to off-group transactions and many quilts have changed locations through this amazing group.

Detail (below) and full quilt, French Star 1870s from Lancaster County. PA Sandra Starley Collection. eBay purchase - history learned via Facebook.

Sensing a need for a Facebook marketplace group for antique quilt lovers, in January 2017, two members of Quilts-Vintage separately set up their own selling groups. These groups feature a wide variety of antique and vintage quilts, tops, blocks, fabrics and reference books rather than general quilting items. The two groups are "Antique Quilt Collectors Buy, Sell, Trade" run by Ann Hermes with more than 1,125 members and "Antique & Vintage Quilts, Buy, Sell, Trade" led by Deb Roberts with 900 members.

There are many other specialty antique quilt groups to check out but here are two more that might appeal to you. "Crib & Doll Quilts-Vintage and Antique" focused on crib and doll quilts, run by Karen Biedler Alexander with more than 800 members. It's another great collecting and research resource. If you are collecting and researching antique or vintage signature quilts, you can join

"Antique Signature Quilts" led by Sandra Starley (yours truly), with more than 800 members.
Please note that all of the groups, I have listed are closed groups. You will need to ask to join each group and be approved by the group's administrator. This helps prevent spammers and unsafe and unpleasant transactions. Being friends with fellow quilt historians and collectors and/or displaying a clear interest in antique and vintage quilts on your personal page will help you get into the desired groups.


Sandra Starley is nationally certified quilt appraiser, quilt historian, and avid antique quilt collector. She travels throughout the U.S. presenting talks on antique quilt history, fabric dating classes and trunk shows as well as quilting classes. Learn more at utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com. Send your comments and quilt questions to SandraStarley@outlook.com

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