Coverlet fragment, second half 18th century
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The cloth is a large fragment of a heavy twill-woven cotton coverlet. Both warp and weft are coarse two-ply cotton threads, in a 2:1 twill weave, i.e., the weave goes over two warp threads, then under one. One end of the fragment has a self-fringe, i.e., one which is formed of the warp threads left hanging, rather than being from a separately-made fringe that was sewn on. The fringe also seems to be original to the fabrication of the coverlet, rather than being opened out or picked apart later. The threads appear to be hand-spun. There is a selvedge along one edge that appears to be a true self-edge, formed of the coverlet threads. There is a line of silk thread along one edge of the coverlet.

The coverlet was originally a natural white, but is now dirtied somewhat to varying shades of gray, and pale. The initials BF are stitched into it, in dark thread; conservators at the Winterthur Museum believed on initial examination that the initials were sewn on at a somewhat later date.

According to Textile Curator Linda Eaton, coverlets like this are very little known, because they "just don't survive." She saw nothing about it that would indicate it is American, on initial examination, but believed it could be of Franklin's era. However, in the summer of 2004, Eaton found the following passage in Tench Coxe's Statement of the Arts & Manufactures of the United States of America for the Year 1810...: "The cotton blanket which is a luxury on the continent of Europe, is a matter of economy in the United States. It is an excellent covering. The double twilled cloth for apparel and furniture, begins to rival the immense invoices of foreign ticklenburgs, and other stout linens." p. xxix, under the heading "Cotton."

Connection to Franklin
Possibly owned by Franklin's family during his lifetime Terms of Use Credits