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Unknown Maker

Pieced Quilt (Ohio Star)
about 1845 New York
calicoes, fondu printed and white cottons; quilted in feather wreath and heart patterns
84 x 71 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Smith Melton

This crisp, eight-point star pattern set in a standard, nine-patch-on-point arrangement incorporated twenty-one pieces of cotton in three colors—red, green, and white. Mathematically, an astonishing number of different arrangements can be made within this pattern using just three colors—10.46 billion! (This figure is based on the following formula: number of arrangements = number of colors to the 21st power [21 is the number of pieces in the star]).

Unlike earlier quilts of the 1820s and 1830s pieced from varieties of different chintzes and calicoes that often mask the design, this three-color patchwork pattern stands out sharply against the exquisitely quilted, white setting squares. For the border fabric, the quilter chose an unusual blue fondu print whose shading delightfully subverts the flatness of her pieced design.