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Art & Design

James Alexander, Coverlet, 1828, Bequest of Mrs. Elizabeth C. Story

James Alexander


Attributed to James Alexander American, 1770-1870
Coverlet, 1828
Linen and wool doublecloth
Length: 246.4 cm (97 inches)
Bequest of Mrs. Elizabeth C. Story 15.110

One of the earliest patterned linen and wool coverlets to be woven in America, this textile is attributed to James Alexander, an Ulster-Scot who emigrated to the United States in 1798 after spending seven years as a weaver in Belfast. His account book in the collections of the New York State Historical Association reveals that he settled in Little Britain near the Hudson Valley town of Newburgh and supported himself with both weaving and farming. At seventy-eight inches wide with no center seam, this coverlet made for Carline Row is an example of the full-breadth weaving Alexander referred to in an advertisement. Because it is double-woven with two sets of warps and wefts, the patterning on one side of the coverlet is reversed on the other, making it impossible to tell which side was meant to be the front.

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