Quilt Index Record:
a Essay Historical Backgrounddescription
This quilt probably made early in her career in 1934, incorporates a Nancy Cabot (Chicago Tribune) pattern that honors the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.
We know Mary Gasperik was inspired by quilts at the Century of Progress Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair), and that she did not enter the 1933 Sears National Quilt Contest held in conjunction with the Fair. The family thinks she probably saw the final round quilts on display and was inspired to make quilts. Sears offered a bonus prize of $200 if the grand prize quilt was made in the theme "A Century of Progress," and some quilters simply embroidered or quilted those words on their quilts to be eligible for the extra prize winnings.
Mary Gasperik, not fully understanding the significance of the words, may have thought her quilts should carry her name and the words "Century of Progress." Five of her quilts made in 1933-34 are embroidered with these words, but it is not suggested that any of them were exhibited either with the Sears Contest quilts or in the Tuley Park Quilt Club booth at the Fair.
Mary Gasperik Private CollectionInstInvContrNumF004
Information source fieldsIdentPersonF006
Blood relative of quiltmaker
Grand-daughter Susan Salser began this research effort in 1991, after she and her two sisters divided up the quilts which belonged to their mother (Elsie Gasperik Krueger) who died in 1988. Her ongoing research has been fruitful and interesting.
Overall Quilt DescriptionTypeObjF008
Star Arcturus-Century of ProgressOwnerNameF010
Star Arcturus-Century of ProgressBrackmanF011a
Blue or Navy
Bright or primary colorsOverCondF015
Very good/almost newTypeInscripF019
"Star Arcturus/A CENTURY OF PROGPESS 1934 M.G." DateInscripF020a
English was not Mary's native tongue. She embroidered "PROGPESS" instead of "PROGRESS"LocInscripF022
Date based on Nancy Cabot quilt pattern by the same name published on Oct 22, 1933 in the Chicago Tribune.
Quilt top descriptionLayFormatF024
Star Arcturus, Chicago World's FairNumBlockF026
13 x 13ArrangeBlockF028
Star Block alternates with a blue block with five small stars appliqued to it.NumBlockPatF030
One scalloped border.BordDescF034
Scallops with appliqued 3-color fans alternate with plain, pointy, scallops. Orange moons with embroidered faces are appliqued into the four corners of the quilt.
Quilt top materials and constructionFiberTypesF035
Quilt back materials and constructionFabFiberTypesF040
Blue or NavyNumPiecesF042
33 inches, 33 inches, 11 inches DescBackF043
less than a half inch
Quilt notes and observationsFeaturesF053
In this quilt, the backing fabric is the same color as the front. It is an unusual choice for Mary Gasperik. Since it is one of her earliest quilts, one wonders if it was personal choice or advice from the Tuley Park Quilt Club.
Selected by daughter Elsie during a division of quilts after Gasperik died in 1969. In 1988, Elsie Krueger's three daughters divided up the quilts left to them after Elsie's death. Susan Salser selected Star Arcturus in the fourth round. At the time, the quilt was under-appreciated by all three of them!
Quilt purposes usesReasonsF060
Mary's grandchildren regard her quilts as a unique collection to be preserved and appreciated.
Quilt design and materials sourcesSourceMatF063
Commercial/Published source: Newspaper
Source of embroidered moon faces in the four corners is "Modern Hand Embroidery Patterns: The Wonder Package" offered by Donald F. Duncan Inc., a Chicago company, in 1933. CommSourceF064b
Nancy Cabot/Chicago Tribune: Star Arcturus Century of ProgressPattSourceF065
Original to makerOthPattSourceF065a
QuiltING patterns Q403 and Q504 (Hubert Ver Mehren Home Art Studio) were used in the blocks. Q403 (side portion only) used in border. Q504 (transformed for use as an applique two-color pieced star). AddNotesF066
A clipping of the original October 22, 1933 Nancy Cabot newspaper column which presented the Century of Progress rocket-star pattern is pasted into Mary Gasperik's album of quilt patterns. This Nancy Cabot pattern was published in The Chicago Sunday Tribune, Part 6, page 2. It was later reproduced by The Quilters Journal No. 27 pp 10-11 in 1985. Mary transformed the plain spacer blocks proposed by the October 22 pattern into blocks containing smaller appliqued 6-star versions of the comet block's 6-pointed star. The central star in her 'spacer' block nests inside a quilted wreath and is smaller than the Comet star, but larger than the tiny stars appliqued into the corners of the 'spacer' block. This is probably Gasperik's own invention but may have been inspired by the Nancy Cabot block pattern called 'Evening Star' which was published in The Chicago Tribune on October 23, 1933, the day after the comet block quarter-quilt-section was published. The Cabot 'Evening Star' shows a center 8-point star executed in two different solid colors (unlike the Arcturus comet 6-point star) with four small diamond appliques in each corner. Instead of copying the diamonds, Gasperik made miniature stars, each composed of 6 miniature diamonds, a much more challenging job. The corner moons (not a Nancy Cabot pattern) were perhaps inspired by the moon cutout at Chicago's Riverview Park. The family has a circa 1945 photo of Gasperik's granddaughters Karen, Linda and Susan Kruger, wearing matching Gasperik red, white and blue pinafores (one of these survives), seated on the amusement park's photo booth cutout. There is also a photograph of Mary and Stephen Gasperik seated on the moon. Gasperik sent 3 pattern tracings of her quilt border and two sample blocks (with attached fabrics) to a fellow Detroit News Quilt Club Corner member in Sturgis Michigan named Emma Zawatski. In 2007 granddaughter Susan miraculously happened to find the Zawaski materials for sale on e-Bay and purchased them. The fabrics and patterns exactly match the Gasperik quilt. Re-reading a list of names and addresses shakily hand-written by Mary Gasperik (probably a list of potential inviteees to Gasperik's 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1956) Susan saw the name Emma Zawatski with a Sturgis Michigan address on that 3-page list, confirming that Mary Gasperik and Emma Zawatski knew each other, probably having met at the first Detroit News quilt show Mary Gasperik attended, in October 1935. The Gasperik Star Arcturus quilt is probably among the quilts Gasperik sent to be exhibited at this (3rd) Detroit News quilt show, her first appearance in Detroit. She attended and sent quilts to every subsequent Detroit News quilt show. The Detroit News quilt club and show editor, Edith Crumb wrote about Gasperik for the first time in the October 22, 1935 newspaper. In the Feb. 1936 Detroit News Crumb devoted a whole column to Gasperik and the Gasperik quilt (one of Gasperik's Double Feather Star quilts) which arrived too late to be exhibited at the October 1935 show. Although Star Arcturus IS based on a published pattern it should be stressed that Gasperik made major creative revisions with her star-studded spacer blocks and corner moons. Also, the Cabot pattern ignores the subject of quiltING and Gasperik's fine quiltING is a major design element in ALL of her quilts. Arcturus is no exception, even though it is a very early Gasperik quilt and is so clearly associated with a commercial pattern.
Exhibition history of quiltExhibitListF067a
Probably exhibited at the third Detroit News Quilt Show October 18-20, 1935, the first Detroit show Mary Gasperik sent quilts to and attended.
Probably exhibited in at least one of the annual Tuley Park quilt shows between 1936 and 1949. We have an undated exhibit tag reading "Arcturus Star Quilt by Mrs. M. Gasperik".
-- "The Quilts of Mary Gasperik," Ann Anastasio, Curator, Livermore Historic Site, Ravenswood, CA, March 14-15, 1992.
-- "Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair," nationally traveling exhibit in 1993-94 curated by Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman.
-- "1933 Chicago World's Fair Quilts" at the Spring International Quilt Festival in Chicago (Rosemont), April 11-13, 2003, curated by Merikay Waldvogel.
Quilt ownership and contact infoOwnershipF082
Susan Krueger SalserOwnerCountryF086b
Susan Krueger SalserDateObtainedF088c
Other source materials available for this quiltRelItemsF088a
Barbara Brackman, Making History Quilts & Fabric From 1890-1970, C & T Publishing, 2008, page 78 photograph of Gasperik Star Arcturus.
Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman, Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World’s Fair, Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, pp 102-103, photographs and text discussion.
"Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair" by Barbara Brackman and Merikay Waldvogel, published in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (July/August 1994), offered readers a pattern for making the moon Mary Gasperik put in the four corners of her Star Arcturus quilt.
"The 1933 World's Fair Quilt Contest and its Aftermath" in Piecework magazine (July/August 1995), pp. 71-77, presented a color photograph of the quilt and a pattern for making a bib using the star and rocket motif.
Family photos show this quilt, and other Gasperik quilts, airing on a clothesline.
Yellow paper exhibit tag (Tuley Park show) reading: Arcturus Star Quilt by Mrs. M. Gasperik
Quiltmaker personal informationMaidenF097b
9314 Cottage GroveCountyF106
Quiltmaker Family historyFatherNameF109
Milk Dealer/Grocery Store Owner/ButcherNoChildF116
1 (Elsie 1909-1988)NoMaleF116b
2 (Elmer and Stephen)
Quiltmaker personal quilting historyLearnedToQuiltF117
From guild or club member
This particular quilt was made at a time when Gasperik was just beginning what turned out to be her life's career. It was a time when she seems to have believed that all quilts should salute The Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair of 1933-34. She may have made it specfically to exhibit in a show held by her Tuley Park quilt club in Chicago. Later she made quilts to exhibit in the Detroit News quilt show in Detroit. After the Detroit shows ceased (following the 1940 show)she exhibited her quilts in many Illinois State Fairs, and at least one Indiana State Fair. She entered quilts in at least 2 Chicago department store contests. She made at least one quilt and one quilt top specifically for the 1939 New York Worlds Fair quilt contest. She also made children's quilts specifically for grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and wedding and wedding anniversary quilts for her son Elmer and grand-daughter Karen. Primarily, she wanted to make quilts because it was her life passion and her greatest talent. The occasions and venues to show them presented themselves. It should be noted that prior to Mary's emigration to America in late 1904, at age 16, she was an apprenticed needleworker in her native Hungary. The intricate and colorful floral embroideries traditional to Hungary lend themselves especially well to applique, the quilt style Mary preferred.
Quiltmakers Membership in quilting groupNameGroupF120
Tuley Park Quilt Club, Detroit News Quilt Club Conducted by Edith Crumb, editor of the Home Page.LocGroupF121
Tuley Park is the Chicago public park closest to Mary's residence on Cottage Grove. Readers of The Detroit News quilt column were from far corners of the United States. They "met" through the quilt column in the Detroit News.SpecialGroupF122
Readers of the column sent in patterns and pattern requests. The club actually met together at the time of the annual quilt show. IN October 1936 they began gathering every Friday afternoon AT The Detroit News.
Other quilts made by quiltmakerNumQuiltsF123
more than 50SellQuiltF127
Mary Gasperik sent three pattern tracings of this quilt's border and two blocks (the Star and the five-star block) with attached fabrics to Emma Zawatski in Sturgis, Michigan, another quilter she met through the Detroit News column.
Susan Salser purchased the tracings at an online auction site in November 1907. She found Zawatski's name on an invitation list Mary Gasperik had compiled for her 50th wedding anniversary. These tracings show that Gasperik shared her own designs with others at an early stage of her quilting career.
Other source materials available for quiltmakerOtherSourceMat
Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman. Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair (Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993)102-103.
Merikay Waldvogel "One American Dream Comes True" Quilters Newsletter Magazine, March 2008, 46-49.
Image - medium display (250-550 pixels)file_medium
MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University, Michigan State University Museum, Alliance For American QuiltsPublisher
Quilt IndexResource Type