Treasure or Not? How to Compare and Value American Quilts

By Stella Rubin

I found Treasure or Not? How To Compare and Value American Quilts by Stella Rubin educational, but disappointing. The book which is part of the Miller’s Treasure or Not? series on valuing antiques provides useful information on how to take care of your treasures. Pictures of beautiful quilts are included. However, the book only gives lip service to African American quilts. She devotes 2 pages out of 163 to the subject. She basically concludes that it is too hard to describe the genre, but that one description is that “African American quilts are the visual equivalent of jazz ­­– they share boldness, multiplicity of patterns and improvisational qualities.”

The book attempts to teach you how to value quilts by contrasting two similar quilts and then discussing the aspects of the quilt that make one more valuable than the other. Ultimately, as in all appraisals, many of the factors are subjective.

After finishing the book, I didn’t feel that I had learned very much about analyzing African American quilts in particular, for historical significance or value. But for the totally uninitiated she suggests the following:

(1) Intricate needlework is more valuable than simple.
(2) A documented quilt is more valuable than one where the quilter is unknown,
(3) One-of-a-kind quilts are more valuable than those where many examples still exist.
(4) The condition of the quilt may play a role in its value.

Even so, I do recommend that the book be part of any serious quilter’s library. You can purchase it on Amazon.com by clicking below.

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