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American History Quilt may stitch up $25,000

Camille Nixdorf Phelan was a quilter, and from the looks of it, a historian, too. Luckily, she was both, and ended up combining both of her interests to create a masterpiece quilt, the "American History Quilt." The very quilt that is headlining Cowan Auction's Fine & Decorative Art Auction, Feb. 20-21.

CINCINNATI — Cowan’s Auctions is offering an unmatched Oklahoma-made treasure during a February 20-21, 2015 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. In addition to live, telephone and absentee bidding, online bidding will be facilitated by

An exquisitely executed quilt stitched by Oklahoma resident Camille Nixdorf Phelan,

American History Quilt

Seldom-seen ‘American History Quilt’, circa 1937, heads to auction with an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.Photo courtesy Cowan’s Auctions

chronicling the history of the United States from its founding until 1937, will be up for sale.

Phelan produced two major quilts during her lifetime. The first is a quilt detailing the history of the State of Oklahoma, which resides in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The second, and the quilt up for auction at Cowan’s, is the American History Quilt. It combines the knowledge of the historian with the genius of the artist, and portrays the history of the country vividly by artistic embroidery.

While Phelan is largely unknown outside of Oklahoma, the American History Quilt represents the evolution of a nation. The endeavors of the country’s most prominent citizens and the milestones of its history are laid out with realism and attention to detail that is unprecedented in the medium of needlework.

Within the quilt, each state contains the image of its capitol, state flower and a famous citizen, along with various landmarks, presidents, and other famous and influential people. The quit is signed and dated 1937, and measures 73 3/4 inches by 64 3/4 inches.

Apart from a mention of a “national quilt” in an article written in 1956, after Phelan’s

American History Quilt

Historic American places and people, including President Abraham Lincoln as shown here, are detailed throughout the 'American History Quilt.'

death, there was no record of the American History Quilt until it was discovered at a rural auction in New York State, in 1983. The quilt carries a presale estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 into the auction at Cowan’s.

For more information, visit, or contact Kirstie Craven in Cowan’s Fine and Decorative Arts Department via email at or telephone 513-871-1670 ext. 231.

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