"It takes ages to finish a quilt you're not working on!"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wall panel or bedspread over 100 years old.

This item has an interesting provenance. My mother-in-law gave it to me after she moved in with us earlier this year. She used it as a bedspread on her double bed for a short while when she was still living in her own home, and prior to that it was stored, wrapped up in a sheet I think, in her wardrobe. She says her parents had it hanging on a wall in their home for some time. As it has a cord and tassells, I think it was probably meant for that purpose, rather than a bedspread.
The story she tells the family is that it was given to her father in 1904. He came from England to Australia on the Moldavia steamship**, and on the way out here, befriended a Chinese man who was a magician. Ken's grandfather came here to manage the Tivoli Theatre, and I believe he helped his Chinese friend to find work onstage with his magic acts. To show his gratitude, the Chinese man gave Ken's grandfather this wall panel or bedspread, and it has stayed in the family ever since.
I would not dare put it on our bed, magnificent as it is. Topsy (our cat) often sleeps on the bed, and she would only have to sink her claws in once, and that would be the end of the embroidery.
It is all hand embroidered, on silk I think. There is two layers of material and the backing material is almost certainly silk, as it is extremely fine, and has started to tear in several spots. The embroidery has stayed remarkably intact considering its age. MIL has suggested that I donate it to a museum of some kind which specialises in either Chinese artifacts or textiles. I'm going to take it to the Embroidery Guild in the next week or so, and have their Collections ladies inspect it, and advise me of the best thing to do to preserve it. I am very keen to read any response from my blog readers, so please leave a comment if you wish to. **(Moldavia. Steamship, 9500 tons. (Sister Mongolia). Built 1903. P. &. O. Steam Navigation Co. Operated on the Australia run. Torpedoed in the English Channel near Brighton, 23 May 1918. Fifty-eight lives lost. Vessel replaced with a new ship of the same name.)

6 comments:

Kathleen from Yesteryear Embroideries said...

It is such an extraordinary piece! Have you thought about having it framed? If done professionally, it will preserve the piece well. Just keep it out of the sunlight. Loved the story to go with it! blessings,Kathleen

Miss 376 said...

What a fascinating piece and a lovely story to go with it

Maddie Can Fly said...

The work in this piece -- amazing! Are those straight stitches? And if so, how do they keep them nice and flat and not "floating" like my long straight stitches seem to do (LOL)

Janny said...

What a kind of treassure Gina. \br careful with it...! Janny

Alex said...

A fascinatin pice,a nice story.right,On the way out here, befriended a Chinese man who was a magician. Ken's grandfather came here to manage the Tivoli Theatre, and I believe he helped his Chinese friend to find work onstage with his magic acts.

Alex said...

welcome my blog

Daily life --
watches newsreplica Breitling watches