Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grain Sacks

Grain sacks are some of the most beautiful relics of old Ebenezer, the first Amana village of the Amana Colonies in New York, that I have ever seen.They are very limited in numbers, handmade at home or by a grain sack maker in the 1800's from organic hemp linen, a very durable fabric that is still solid today. The grain sacks were used by the local farmers, merchants for restaurants and hotels, and soldiers to carry grains to the local mills. After the grain was ground the sack was refilled with flour and  returned to owners. The elaborate calligraphy on the sacks were hand, block-stamped with a tar-based stencil ink bearing the first and last names of the owner, his title, the year, inventory number, and town where they worked and lived. The marks, mends, durability, dirt, the uneven wear, the softness with age, and stencils of these bags added to their appeal. If you appreciate the nuances of handwoven and hand stitched antique textiles, then these are pieces to collect. The Europeans viewed their grain sacks as family status symbols that were passed down from generation to generation and now found in estate sales, dowry chests, or floorboards of old farmhouses. The German immigrants to Amana brought with them a most unique textile!

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