Antique Redwork Tablecloth

This is an item I purchased on ebay ages ago, and although it was advertised as a tablecloth, I thought it might actually be a quilt top. I was wrong, though, because it is hemmed all around, it’s only one layer (so probably not meant to be a summer spread), and the seams are finished on the back.

The tablecloth was listed as a cutter on ebay and very inexpensive.  I haven’t done any research on the cloth so I’m not sure about the age, but a couple of my favorite squares represent figures from the 1800s:  Jumbo (1861 – 1885) and Admiral Dewey (1837 – 1917).  If anyone has a better idea of the date, I would love to hear from you.

The motifs appear to be hand drawn and the random nature of the subjects reminds me of the old “penny square” designs.  All of the drawings are directional and all but three are set the same (the 5th square in the last three rows is upside down).  I would have fixed this if I were the maker, but now I find it charming.

The cloth has been well used, but is in relatively good shape for its age, being a little thin with some broken threads and a few worn spots.  The worst damage is to poor Red Riding Hood, who suffered a bad tear and was rather crudely repaired.

Antique Redwork Tablecloth
Hand embroidered and hand sewn
Unknown Maker (M.K.)
Late 1800s or early 1900s
72″ x 80″

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