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You Paid How Much For That Quilt??

How much do you spend on an antique quilt?

Oh! Such a good question!! With no real answer…

Quilts sell for a few dollars to many thousands of dollars. Remember! Many times, what the quilt cost has little to do with the true value. I spent $35 on my first antique (really just vintage) quilt in about 1991. That was a common price for an average “old” quilt.

About the same time that I was spending $35 for my quilt, another quilt was selling at Sotheby’s for $264,000. The Reconciliation Quilt is now housed at the International Quilt Museum. Check it out. That was 1991 dollars - that would be over $579,000 in 2023 dollars. Wowza! Go buy some fabric to make yourself calm down. That cost is nothing compared, right?

I have purchased a really unique antique quilt for $10. This Tile Quilt is a regional style found in the Northeast, mostly New England. It is all hand appliquéd. Is it worth more than $10? Probably not. It is very worn and fragile with fading and deteriorating fabrics. I love it because it is an example of a certain style that isn’t seen very often, well not often here in Texas anyway.

Ah! What is the most I have ever spent on a quilt, you ask? Ha!! Like I would reveal that!!! I can say that I have spent enough to take my breath away on a few quilts but I have never regretted the purchases. Here are a couple of my most valuable quilts. Did I spend more than what they are worth? Nope. (I am a quilt appraiser after all - hee hee hee!)

This is an 1856 quilt from Connecticut made by Margaret Guild Benedict for her (step) daughter Emily Benedict Nears. This is worthy of much more time that I will give it here. Look for more in the future.

This is an 1844 quilt from near Baltimore, Maryland by Sarah A. White. There are a few other names and initials on the quilt. Like the quilt above, this deserves much more time. Check back....

What if you want to buy an antique quilt? Warning: sometimes one isn’t enough … then you end up like me!

Considerations before making that purchase:

1. What do you plan to do with the quilt?

Decorative? Where do you envision this quilt living – do you want to hang this on a wall? Are you placing it on a bed? Folding it across the back of a rocking chair?

Functional? Do you plan to cuddle with this quilt? Give it as a gift?

2. How will you need to care for this quilt?

Remember to keep it out of the sun / bright light. If you hang it, it will need to come down to rest about every 3 months – gravity is tough on old thread.

The older the quilt, the less handling it will be able to survive. It may be super soft but I can’t recommend using an antique quilt for anything functional.

Where are you going to store this quilt when it needs to rest? Find out more about storage tips here.

3. What is the right price for this quilt?

This is really hard to answer! Before you jump in and make a purchase, spend some time looking at quilts and their prices. Poke around an antique mall, check online sources from Instagram and Facebook to Etsy, eBay and various websites – just search for “antique quilts for sale” and you can find vendors who have websites.

Oh my goodness!! Some of these prices are outrageous!! Well, remember that if it is “For Sale” and still available, the price may be too high!

Think about your disposable income and what you feel comfortable spending. Would you spend $100 for a decorative item? Or only $50? Maybe You would spend $500 or more? Set your budget and look for a quilt in YOUR price range. The more you look, the more you will learn.

4. What do I need to look for in an antique quilt?

  • Condition, condition, condition! (Intact fabrics and stitches, fabric deterioration, fading?)

  • Color

  • Design

  • Your heart (Do you love it?)

I have loved quilts that were not in great condition, they just need more TLC. I rescued this quilt from a dusty corner of an antique store. It has been used as a paint drop cloth at some point and is missing some fabric but if folded just right and placed in a basket, it looked marvelous.

I have loved quilts that are faded. This tan used to be green, but I never saw it that way. I bought it as tan and red and I love it just this way.

I didn’t answer the question. You answer the question. With your realistic budget and your heart. But do think about giving a home to an old quilt. It connects you to your quilting heritage, your quilting sisters (and brothers) in the past and gives new life to a quilt made long ago!


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