||Quilt Notes: These DIAMONDS debuted in Nancy Cabot's column in the Chicago Tribune, January 23, 1935 (see left). Most people would probably recognize this block as a harlequin pattern, however. The harlequin is a clown or jester, and thus the design is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "having a pattern of brightly colored diamond shapes."
There is likely an historical reference in Nancy Cabot's title for her article in the Tribune, and which indicates that this is a block "Famous Among Diamond Patterns," that is, not among quilt patterns, but among "diamond patterns." And indeed that is surely true. In fact, the harlequin design is perhaps the oldest diamond pattern worked by quilters, dating back to the art of comedy (comedia dell'arte) in the Italian Renaissance, and which employed stock characters, along with traditional masks and costumes, similar to Japanese Noh drama. In her article, Cabot also comments:
"The diamond patterns were favorites in New England for 'best' quilts, and the piecing and quilting on these diamond patches usually were more exquisitely and elaborately done. DIAMONDS is the dean of the really old fashioned pattern quilts. It is interesting to remark that the antique diamond quilts usually are in better condition than those made of square patches, which is another proof that they were 'best' quilts."
More diamond quilt designs at this site would include:
DIAMONDS AND SHADOWS
STAR AND BOX
A THOUSAND PYRAMIDS