Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The Heartland Antique Show in Richmond, IND was this past weekend and it was a huge success. I got to visit with old friends and I had the opportunity to meet some new and wonderfully interesting people. That is a BIG plus in this business. People travel from all over the country to attend antique shows. They come from different backgrounds and live very different lives but we share a common thread and that is the love of antiques. For a brief day or two we talk about those antiques, our collections, our houses, our unique decorating styles, our gardens, our 18th century or Civil War reenacting groups or we just share funny stories. The outside world and all it's problems and worries melt away. Sure for us dealers it is a LOT OF WORK! A friend of mine, Susan who helped me do this show, (bless her heart) remarked to her husband, "They do a months worth of work in two or three days". But where else could you go and be with other people, both customers and dealers, who love what you love and are all under one roof? This time I met or should I say re-met a man who saw me at a Civil War show probably about 8 to 10 years ago. I spent time with a woman from South Carolina who owns and runs a B&B. And then there was a folk artist from Missouri who creates period correct gourd containers. That is just the customers. Every show always has new dealers or dealers that you did not have the chance to chat with in the past. They are a wealth of information. Yes shows are work but they are also FUN!!

While walking the show, I came across two little treasures. Some people call them infant pincushions or pillows, layette pincushions or welcoming pillows. Pincushions have been around in England since the 16th century or even possibly earlier. Welcoming pillows are a special type of pincushion and were at their height of popularity from the last quarter of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century or approximately from 1770 to 1890. They were square or rectangular in shape, larger in size than the standard pincushions which measured 2 to 3 inches, stuffed with saw dust or maybe even sand, covered with silk, linen or cotton and were decorated with stuck straight pins that formed either a design, a message/verse or both. Some were signed or initialed while others were not.

"Angels guard thee, lovely blossom
Hover round and shield from ill
Crown thy parents' largest wishes
And their fondest hopes fulfill"

"May thy fragrance ever be
Like the rosebud in the tree
With a luster more sublime
And thy every virture shine"

Shorter messages were more common such as "Welcome Sweet Babe" or "Welcome Little Stranger" Some messages reflect the high death rates of babies and their mothers.

"Bless the babe and save the mother"

"God bless the babe and may it live and a deal of comfort may it give"

"May He whose cradle was a manger bless and protect this little stranger".

Pins were made by hand until about 1830 and were extremely expensive. The pincushion itself was given as a gift after the birth of a baby. Since there was a high mortality rate during childbirth it was more prudent to wait to deliver the gift until after the child was born. There was also a superstitious belief that it could increase the mother's pain during childbirth.

"For every pin a pain" and "More pins, more pain."


After the mother received this lovely and extremely expensive gift, she went on to probably use the pins to fasten the baby clothes. The pins were dangerous. They would sometimes stick the baby causing pain, illness or even death. Older infants could remove the pins, possibly swallowing them and causing servere harm. Thank goodness the safety pin was invented during the 19th century but unfortunately they were not available until 1878.
The first and second pictures are of Donna Finegan Antiques' booth.
The third picture are two welcoming pillows from Perkins & Menson Antiques,
442 Main Street, Townsend, MA 01469 (978) 729-5423.
The fourth picture is a welcoming pillow from D. Finegan's private collection.


  1. Wow, how fascinating! I love coming here to learn things like this, Becky

  2. Becky,

    Hi! Thanks for coming to visit and I hope you will visit often. I love talking about antiques and 18th and early 19th century life. Such fun! If you have a chance please visit my website to view some of the things I talk about. Thanks again Becky.


  3. Those pincushions are treasures for certain! I m so glad I discovered your blog. I'll be back to visit again!