Monday, May 22, 2017

The Mary Schafer Collection

The month of May has been filled with wonderful quilt adventures.
I am posting out of order - so you have an opportunity to go see the exhibits still open
The Mercer Museum has "The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History"
(The official details and links are at the bottom of this post)

It is a wonderful exhibit with antique quilts Mary collected, time span quilts she finished
and quilts Mary made or collaborated on.
I appreciated the gallery seating! 
I was able to study and enjoy each quilt at my leisure and comfort.

Mary documented the name of the piecer of the quilt on the front in ink.
Matilda Godfrey Vary - Piecer, Mary Schafer - Finisher, Ida Pullman - Quilter
1876 top - finished in 1980

 About two centuries of fabrics are represented
across her collection of quilts.

There is something for everyone - I saw adults and children of all 
ages enjoying the exhibit.

Seating and copies of the books about Mary are in the gallery
and for sale in the gift shop.
Surrounded by the quilts, you can enjoy the books.

There are several special activities planned throughout the exhibit.
The day I was there, one of the sponsors, Barbara Fighera Harrison was
demonstrating hand quilting for the public. 
She had demos and 'quilt sandwiches' for the public to try hand quilting.
Check the museum website for other special events: Appraisal Day, Quilt Themed Lectures and special activities for children.

What are quilts without the supplies to make them?
This wonderful case included blocks, scissors, inking tools and 
quilt frame clamps - from the Mercer collection.

It is a wonderful exhibit and I hope you have a chance to see it.  
Thanks to the generous support of donors it was able to travel to Doylestown.  I do not know where it travels next, or if it returns to Michigan State University Museum for storage.

Happy Stitching,

Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker by Gwen Marston
Mary Schafer and Her Quilts by Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham

Official Press Release:
Exhibit showcases an important early collector, designer and popularizer of quilts

DOYLESTOWN, PA: (April 28, 2017) – The Mercer Museum will host The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History, an exhibition that explores the life and work of an important early collector, designer, maker, and popularizer of quilts and quilting traditions. The show will be on view at the Mercer from May 13 – August 13, and will feature 25 quilts that reflect the varying aspects of Schafer’s interests and work, from the nineteenth-century quilts she collected and documented, to her own exquisite work, sometimes created in collaboration with other needleworkers.

Born in Austria-Hungary in 1910 and later immigrating to the United States, Mary Schafer would become one of an important group of women who kept quilt studies alive between World War II and the 1970s revival of interest in quilts. A resident of Michigan for most of her life, Schafer has long been recognized as one of the forerunners of quilt studies as well as the developer of one of the most important quilt history collections in the country.

The intricate and colorful quilts on display in The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History, are supplemented with biographical information that draws from Schafer’s collection of her own letters and other ephemera, acquired by the Michigan State University Museum. The result is an often very personal expression of her work, friendships and her lifelong efforts "to raise in popular esteem" the appreciation of quilts and their history.

Complementing the exhibition will be a variety of quilt-related programs. On May 13, Gwen Marston, author of Mary Schafer American Quilt Maker, will offer a lecture at 1 p.m. and gallery walk through the exhibit at 2:30 p.m.  An Antique and Vintage Quilt Appraisal Day with quilt experts Dana Balsamo and Dawn Heefner will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The cost is $30 (1 quilt per visitor).  Attendees can pre-register by calling 215-348-9461.  Author and quilter, Meg Cox offers an entertaining look at the history of quilting in the program What is a Quilt and Why You Should Make One on Thursday, June 15. The program is $12 per person.  For the complete schedule of quilt programs, visit the Mercer Museum’s online calendar of events at

On display adjoining the quilt exhibition will be The Sharon Holloway Dollhouse and Miniatures Collection featuring five elaborate structures including a Mansard-roofed Victorian home, a Colonial Revival home (including a detached garage and gazebo), a country store and quilt shop, a Georgian Revival townhouse and garden setting, and a country vernacular structure complete with carpenter gothic trim.  Three of the buildings are electrified and all are fully furnished.  Each either opens, or is cutaway to reveal its highly-detailed interior.

The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History is included with museum admission. Mercer Museum admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (65+) and $8 for youth (6-17). Under age 6 and members are free.

The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History is locally sponsored by:  Pine Run Retirement Community, Mary Jane Clemens, Jim and Kathy Morrison and Barbara Fighera Harrison.

About the Mary Schafer Collection
This traveling exhibition is a Michigan State University Museum/Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan Traditional Arts Program activity supported in part by funds from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Additional support provided by Kitty Clark Cole and Country Stitches.  You can find more about Mary Schafer on these web pages:

About the Mercer Museum
The Mercer Museum, one of Bucks County’s premier tourist attractions, offers visitors a unique window into pre-Industrial America as seen through the implements used in everyday life.  The Museum’s collection includes more than 40,000 objects exhibiting the tools of more than 60 different crafts and trades, providing one of the world’s most comprehensive portraits of material culture in America.  The museum celebrated its Centennial in 2016. The Mercer Museum is located at Pine Street & Scout Way in Doylestown and is open for self-guided exploration 7 days a week. For more information, call 215-345-0210 or visit


  1. Thank you so much for sharing these. I would love to see Mary's quilts in person. What treasures.

  2. It's so wonderful to walk thru a quilt exhibit and the inspiration that comes from it often matches the enjoyment of seeing the beautiful quilts. How wonderful these photos are.

  3. What an incredible collection.

  4. A wonderful, amazing collection! So happy for you that you where able to visit! All those tiny stitches and antique fabrics. I can imagine you wanted to see them up close!Thanks for sharing the pictures!

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful exposition with us, Dawn, so the quilting ladies from far, who can not attend this show, can still see a small part of Must have been a real treat to study these interesting and very lovely quilts so close!

  6. I'm so glad you were able to see them in person. I met Mary many years ago at the MI museum and saw these quilts. Somehow they need to be seen in person to absorb how well made and lovely they are. The Pyramid is my favorite and I always meant to make one.
    Are you going to the AGSQ Seminar in October?

  7. Thanks for showing, they are gorgeous!

  8. Mary seems like a million years ago..

  9. Dear Dawn, you have been all over the place!! What fun!! I want to peek into your boxes coming in the mail!! I have this book, and have spent a lot of time going trough the pictures. I would love to see them up close one day!!

  10. How wonderful to got to see these in person, such beauties and so much inspiration. And wonderful for us to see these pictures, thanks!

  11. What a marvellous exhibit!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us - these quilts are so inspiring. Any chance for a closer picture of the star quilt with the gold border? I must look into getting a book.

  12. Looks wonderful! Quilt exhibits are so wonderful. Seeing the quilts in person is such a great experience. I wish I could see this exhibit, but at least I got to see glimpses!

  13. You certainly must have enjoyed this exhibition very much. I have a book about Mary Schafer , her life and her quilts for many years now so I would have liked seeing this for sure.
    Thanks for showing,


Thanks for your comments!