Knockers, Pickers, Movers, and Shakers: Quilt Dealers in America, 1970–2000


From Uncoverings 2014, Volume 35 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group


By: Bavor, Nancy,

Abstract: The Quilt Revival in the last decades of the twentieth century gave rise to new quilt-related professions and disciplines, including historians, collectors, shop owners, show organizers, appraisers, artists and makers, teachers, authors, and publishers. Often overlooked is the vital contribution quilt dealers played in bringing antique and vintage quilts to the marketplace, along with other quilt-related activities. Based on interviews conducted by the author from August 2011 to April 2013, this paper discusses how the profession developed, how dealers acquired their inventory and to whom they sold it, and how they managed their business and interrelationships. The sixteen interviews with nineteen American quilt dealers active between 1967 and 2000 reveal that, in addition to buying and selling quilts, dealers often participated in other quilt-related disciplines as historians, collectors, appraisers, teachers, authors, and publishers. Altogether, the interviews with these pioneers provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of quilt dealers and their work.

Nancy Bavor is the Curator of Collections at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and an American Quilter's Society Certified Appraiser of Quilted Textiles. She holds a BA in art history from Northwestern University and an MA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in the history of textiles with an emphasis on quilt studies. Among the exhibitions she has curated are The World According to Joyce Gross (SJMQT, 2009) and Jean Ray Laury: Getting It All Together (International Quilt Study Center & Museum, 2012). Nancy also serves on the boards of the Studio Art Quilt Associates and The Quilt Alliance.