Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Wealth couldn't buy quilts...

Happy Wednesday!

A regular syndicated column called "Statistical Sam" ran an interesting article in 1907.  It was an insightful piece that focused on making quilts.

Sam was a man ahead of his time.  He saw the value in women's work and wasn't afraid to enlighten the public.

He started with this statement:

"John D. Rockefeller's wealth couldn't buy 
all the home-made quilts of the United States." 

At a time when society was dismissive about "women's work" Sam put an actual monetary value on it.  In this case, making quilts.  His methodology may not have stood up to the test of current statisticians but his conclusions are interesting.

Of the 15 million families in this country, Sam suggested that each household had at least two handmade quilts.  Because quilt making wasn't as popular, he theorized that each quilt was made by "his mother or her mother."

1908 quilt top
"Home-made quilts are made in spare time.  Quilt making women have little spare time..."  Sam suggested that women would sew when their regular duties are completed, perhaps 30 minutes a day.

Sam suggested that a woman's wages would be about a $1.50 an hour.  He then deduced that the homemade quilts in the U.S. should be valued at $675,000,000.  With Rockefeller's fortune (about a billion dollars), 1/3 of it would be lost as Sam put it, "under the hammer" of liquidation.  Therefore, Rockefeller's billion dollars would not be able to buy all the homemade quilts in the country.

Early 20th century quilt

What is the most interesting part of this story?  How accurate Sam was in appraising quilts--even though he didn't use the methodology of current quilt appraising.  He wrote that each quilt was worth $22.50 in 1907.  That same amount in 2023 is about $734.90.  

In 1907, most quilts were of the full size.  What is the average for a full-sized quilt appraisal in 2023?  How about $700.00 (according to this article).

It seems like Sam could actually understand quilting.  He even wrote that "more love, life, and labor is wrapped up in a homemade quilt than can be imagined".  He went on to state, that in nine out of ten cases, the quilter can recall the fabric and 
"whence it came."

Sam concluded his article by stating, "the intrinsic value of the home-made quilt may not be fully set-down in dollars and cents.  There is sentiment connected with it that money couldn't buy.  Here's to the homemade quilt!"

He even published two large illustrations of quilt patterns:

Here's to you Sam!  👏

Have a safe and happy day!

1 comment:

  1. How did I miss this informative post? Thanks for finding the story!