The Art of Buying an Antique Quilt

Richmond, Virginia’s Flying Geese sews heart and history into each offering

Photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese

Rho at home with her beautiful finds; an Eight-Point Star quilt, likely Amish-made.

For Jennifer Rho of Richmond, Virginia’s Flying Geese, curating and selling antique quilts via Instagram started during the pandemic. “The interest in quilts has soared during this long season of being so homebound,” she says. “People have been forced to slow down, nest, and pay closer attention to their surroundings.”

And she named it Flying Geese for good reason. “It’s not only the name of one of our favorite quilt patterns,” Rho says, “but also refers to the symbolism of collaboration that lies in the way geese work as a group when flying in formation, taking turns bearing the brunt of the wind at the front. One of the main goals of Flying Geese is to find ways to support women in difficult circumstances, and we do that through donating a percentage of every sale to organizations that support women.”

Rho scours estate sales and auctions and corresponds with various sellers to find singular pieces. Many times, the owners are turning over family heirlooms to her care. And she is careful to preserve those legacies. “As a seller recently told me, each quilt should be thought of as a person,” she says. “There is so little recorded history when it comes to the work of women’s hands, so any bit of history is important to save and honor.”

photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese
A mid- to late-1800s quilt in the Wandering Foot pattern, at a distance.
photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese
Wandering Foot pattern, up close. Many of the original blue pieces were made with unstable dyes and faded to a green-gray over time.

One design in particular stuck with her at the beginning of her journey with Flying Geese: a Postage Stamp quilt made from 7,119 squares of vintage textiles. “Though it is not a complex pattern,” she says, “it feels like a calendar, counting the minutes, hours, days, and months.” Rho advises potential customers to listen to what pulls them to a particular piece in the same way. “Go with a quilt that tugs at your heart,” she says. “I often tell people that my personal collection has no rhyme or reason. Most of them are not those museum-quality pieces but are ones that spoke to me in some way.”

photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese
A Mariner’s Compass quilt.
photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese
A Cockscomb quilt.
photo: Courtesy of Flying Geese
A Wandering Foot quilt. All three pieces are from the 1800s.

Most of Flying Geese’s sales happen once a month online, with previews debuting on Instagram quilt by quilt until the big day. Up next, she’ll host a collection of pieces entirely bound by one color: pink.