Eagle, Carolina Lily

July, 2017

Eagle, Carolina Lily

Maker unknown

United States
Circa 1876
Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 1997.007.0696

This hand appliquéd, red and green Colonial Revival Quilt was likely made to commemorate the American Centennial in 1876. With “July Fourth 1776” across the center, there is considerable symbolism included in this unique quilt. For instance, the eagle holds an olive leaf in its beak, a symbol of peace. This quiltmaker leaves no doubt about where her loyalties reside.

The majestic eagle has symbolized strength and power for centuries.  In 1782, the bald eagle, native only to North America, was declared the national bird of the United States. The eagle is often portrayed, as it is in this quilt, with an olive leaf or branch in its beak. Rich lily motifs surround the eagle and an outer border that features a unique swag incorporates a tulip design.

The symbolism of the plants the quilter used may also enforce the quilts’ message of “Virtue, Liberty and Independence, July Fourth 1776.”  The olive plant is a symbol of peace, first documented as such in ancient Greece.  The tulips included in the swag borders often symbolize love, while the lilies pieced in the body of the quilt symbolize purity.

Also notable, the quilt is inscribed “Dollie” in the lower left corner.