About Us | Advertise With Us | Contact Us
September 1, 2014, 12:36 pm

Beauty of Victorian ‘penny rugs’ lasts lifetimes

Penny rugs, which first appeared in New England in the mid-1800s, have been widely used as decorative coverings for beds, tables and even dressers.

The beauty and multiple uses caused these coverings to become extremely popular during this time period; the basic design has become a good addition to any household, whether during the Victorian Era or modern day.

“They were also called spool rugs, or dollar rugs, because of the circles that make up their basic designs,” said Diane Richardson, the executive director of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Germantown. “These rugs usually consist of a layer of wool ‘pennies’ placed in geometric patterns over a base of wool.”

The author of “Pennies from Heaven,” Gretchen Gibbons, will be hosting a wool appliqué workshop on Jan. 27, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, located at 200 W. Tulpehocken Street. This class will teach students various techniques on how to make the penny rugs.

“The coins were shaped, that could be traced and then cut out for the rugs,” Richardson said.

This class is the third class of the 2012–2013 Victorian Workshop Series at the mansion.

“Other workshops in the series included the ‘Victorian Crazy Quilt’ workshop, the ‘Hexagon Quilt’ workshop and the ‘Victorian Nature Study’ workshop,” Richardson said.

The cost for the class is $40 for members, and $45 for non-members. Students will receive a kit, which costs $10, in order to participate in the project. This fee is not included in the class cost.

“Included in the kit is the wool and embroidery floss to complete the pictured project,” Richardson said. “Students should bring sewing scissors.”

In order to give students the full experience of what making a penny rug was like, during the Victorian time, Richardson said that cookies and tea will be served to students.

“Penny rugs are a traditional sewing project enjoyed by Victorian women,” she said. “Sometimes pennies were actually sewn into them to help weight them down and make them lay flat. Eventually penny rugs evolved into a traditional and colorful folk art.”

For more information about this class, as well as any upcoming classes, visit To register for this class, call (215) 438-1861.