Object Timeline

1939

  • Work on this object began.

2016

  • We acquired this object.

2017

2021

  • You found it!

Textile, Spencerian Horses

This is a Textile. It was designed by Marguerita Mergentime and manufactured by Goodall Worsted Company. It is dated 1939 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is cotton and its technique is printed on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Marguerita Mergentime is noted for her innovative use of text as a decorative element, and among her many sources of inspiration were books of calligraphy and penmanship. The “Spencerian” of the title refers to Spencerian script, a cursive writing style developed by Platt Rogers Spencer and promoted through his 1866 book, Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship. The script’s sweeping curves were the standard for American business documents from the 1850s to 1920s, as well as for elegant personal correspondence.
Folk art was Mergentime’s other great love, and according to a 1988 New York Times article, “Many who mastered the swirled lines and swept curves of Spencerian script went on to adapt their cursive skills to drawing.”[i] A unique folk art style called calligraphic drawing developed in the late 19th century, and frequently pictured birds and animals, in particular horses or carousel horses, with the addition of loops, curves, and spiraling embellishments. This design was based on such a drawing in the artist's collection. The horse also appeared on a tablecloth from her Folk Art collection of 1939, and on plates.
Spencerian Horses is one of a collection of six ensembles of drapery and bedspread prints Mergentime created for Goodall Worsted Decorative Fabrics Division. “Mrs. Mergentime has long been noted for her American prints based on extensive research into the design heritage of the United States, which she recasts into a modern idiom,” Retailing wrote in December 1940.[ii]
This is the first work by Marguerita Mergentime to enter the museum’s collection. She will be the subject of a monograph to be published in 2017.

This object was donated by American Historical Textile Museum. It is credited American Textile History Museum Collection, gift of Giles Kotcher.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 217.2 × 128.3 cm (7 ft. 1 1/2 in. × 50 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Spencerian Horses; Designed by Marguerita Mergentime ; cotton; H x W: 217.2 × 128.3 cm (7 ft. 1 1/2 in. × 50 1/2 in.); American Textile History Museum Collection, gift of Giles Kotcher; 2016-35-130

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108723127/ |title=Textile, Spencerian Horses |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=2 December 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>