If you’re after maximum wall power for minimum bucks, check out Lancaster County (Pennsylvania) Amish quilts made before 1940. “The best look like Rothko paintings,” opines Leslie, who admires the deep, saturated colors and geometric shapes—diamonds, squares, and bars. Currently, the market for Amish quilts is so sleepy that neither major auction house handles them. Retail prices range from $1,000 for a 1940s light-colored, rayon cloth model to $10,000 for a 1920s rare, red diamond-in-a-square wool quilt. The best pieces are stitched together with black thread.
“There’s a lot of new research going on,” says historian Jonathan Holstein, who, in 1971, curated Abstract Design in American Quilts, the ground-breaking Whitney Museum show that was the first to exhibit quilts as paintings. There’s also a new museum, the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, slated to open in April. The museum owns more than 2,400 quilts from 24 countries and includes quilts donated by Holstein, who penned A Quiet Spirit (Fowler, 1996), the seminal essay on Lancaster quilts. “The market bottomed out in the 1990s and can only head in one direction,” says Leigh.
Photograph: Courtesy of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum
See More Keno Brothers here.