Quilts have become the objects of folk art collectors from all around the world and it’s their high demand that makes finding an antique quilt such a thrill. Perhaps not so thrilling is paying for these highly prized, and very expensive, works of art.
Finding them, and paying for them, is almost as tricky as defining what, exactly, an antique quilt is in the first place. It’s true that all antiques are old but how old is an antique quilt?
Back in the days of round tables and knights in shining armor, there was a lot of chain mail clothing and armored suits. All that metal, with all its sharp edges, had the nasty habit of pinching, squeezing, and chafing the delicate skin of even the most forbidding-looking knight. To keep his skin intact, a knight would wear quilted clothing underneath the metal and to drape over his horse. One of those quilts would definitely be considered an antique quilt.
Also during the 15th century, quilts were often sold along the trade routes connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa. Finding a quilt made from kente cloth in Africa, silk from China, or wool from the British Isles and dating from that era would certainly be an antique quilt.
That not old enough? The ancient Egyptians snuggled under quilts, too, to take the chill out of those ancient evenings. If one of these quilts survived through the millennia, it would be considered an antique quilt by just about everybody’s standards.
Those examples may be extremes but the acquisition of an antique quilt is a thrilling moment, even if the quilt was made in times a bit more contemporary. Quilts are, after all, intended to serve a useful purpose and fabric deteriorates over time. Even though quilts have been made for thousands of years, they just don’t last too long without a great deal of special care.
The special care an antique quilt needs to remain in top-quality condition is something that is best provided by museums and similar places where the safe keeping of treasured artifacts is the main order of business. Antique quilts made by people everywhere are on display in public museums and art collections around the world.