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Forgotten Treasures: Going Undercover with Finger Lakes Coverlet Weavers

April 28 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


A program entitled “Forgotten Treasures: Going Undercover with Finger Lakes Coverlet Weavers” will be presented by the Antiques Club of the Finger Lakes on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at 7:00 pm at the Geneva History Museum, 543 S. Main Street, Geneva. Coverlets are woven bed covers. The speakers will be Mary Jean Welser and Marty Schlabach. The program is presented in association with Historic Geneva.

Marty Schlabach and Mary Jean Welser will explore what a coverlet is, highlight their path to collecting coverlets, and identify some local and regional coverlet weavers of the early 19th century. Several coverlets will be displayed at the in-person program. If you have a coverlet in your family, you are encouraged to submit a photograph to the speakers via [email protected] or bring it to the program.

In the 19th century coverlets were often woven for special occasions and became prized family heirlooms.

Many small towns in our region and across New York State hosted professional weavers in the first half of the 1800s. Most homes had spinning-wheels and looms. A wide array of types of cloth was woven by the women of the family for household use. There were also professional weavers who wove for others and earned their living practicing their trade.

Advertisements by weavers in local newspapers in the 1830s often listed several different textile types that could be woven for customers. For example, an 1832 advertisement in the Geneva Gazette for weaver Henry Johnson in Benton indicated that he “continues weaving in all its branches” and more specifically he weaves carpets and coverlets. And he says his weaving compares favorably with imported Scotch carpeting and is even superior in quality. He promises to weave the customer’s name in the coverlet.

Mary Jean has been interested in and has collected textiles for many years, with a particular interest in quilts. About 10 years ago, while pawing through a pile of textiles at a local estate sale, Mary Jean came across two whole cloth, early 19th century quilts and one geometric overshot coverlet. Thus started Mary Jean’s and Marty’s interest in, exploration and collection of coverlets. As a retired librarian, Marty particularly enjoys the historical research associated with learning about coverlets. Marty and Mary Jean claim Interlaken, NY as their home and spend substantial time gardening and working on their 1840s Greek Revival farmhouse, in addition to prowling antique shops and auctions.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Masks will be required in consideration of any vulnerable attendees. The meeting will be available through Zoom. Check the calendar on historicgeneva.org or call the Historic Geneva office to enroll for Zoom attendance.


April 28
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Antiques Club of the Finger Lakes
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Geneva History Museum
543 S. Main Street
Geneva, NY 14456 United States
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