These pillows or cushions are commonly referred to as christening pillows or cushions. Brandt & Cullman tell us that these wonderful pin cushions were hung on the front door to announce the arrival of a baby to friends and neighbors.1 I suspect all three of the pillows I am listing today were given as gifts to the newborn's mother and were kept indoors. There is no indication that any ever had a ribbon for hanging and all three are quite heavy from the straw stuffing.
Steel pins form the sentiment
The pins are handmade in two parts. First, a wire was drawn, straightened, cut, one end was sharpened. and the other was ground to accept the the head. Then a handmade head was added (if you look with a loupe you can see that the head fits like a collar around the straight pin). Finally the entire pin was polished and the pins were placed in a paper packet for sale. By 1776, American pin factories were turning out 5000 pins per day.2
This is a lovely pillow with ivory silk on the front and a cotton back. 5” x 6 ½” plus the lace edge. The pin decorated inscription “Welcome Sweet Babe” is surrounded by an oval border and includes some pin decoration within the oval. It has a tatted lace edge. The silk is just starting to shatter in some places, but just barely. The shattering is not noticeable except upon inspection and the stuffing is tight and safe. There are two very light stains on the front but I didn’t see these stains until inspecting the pillow under strong light. There are a few light rust stains to the tatted lace edge. The reverse has scattered pinholes and rust stains. There is a small round adhesive collection label on the reverse. Easily removed if you want to--but these collection labels generally add to the value because they show that someone had the piece in a collection. I've tried to show you the condition with very detailed images below. But remember these are very small apologies and this pillow is in very good condition considering the age of these fragile and rare objects. Circa 1st half of the 19th century. What a great baby gift!
I was extremely lucky to acquire a private collection of these rare cushions. Please take a look at all four that I'm listing today! The last image in this listing is a group shot.
1Brant, Sandra & Cullman, Elissa, Small Folk A Celebration of Childhood in America. E.P. Dutton, New York, 1980. 43.
Please see the Christening or Birth Pillows page for more information about these rare survivors.