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Summer Bedspread

Summer Bedspread  Norwalk, about 1860Norwalk, about 1860

According to the handwritten label attached to it, Captain Charles Selleck designed this summer bedspread with his wife Samantha, who pieced and stitched it around 1860. The appliquéd coverlet incorporates two nautical motifs—the mariner’s compass and the anchor—set among national flags and yellow stars. The anchor symbolized hope, a sentiment regularly expressed by a wife for the safety of her seafaring husband.

The “Mariner’s Compass” is one of the earliest American quilt patterns, made popular along the Atlantic Coast during the 18th and 19th century. With much of everyday life in coastal New England revolving around the peril and promise of the sea, and many women with knowledge of the maritime trades and affection for the men engaged in them, nautical themes were natural choices for quilt designs.

The Connecticut Historical Society collection includes nearly 200 bed coverings, including 114 quilts.