History Lesson: Weaving the story of a sought-after wedding present – WWNY

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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – In today’s traditions, a popular wedding gift might be a kitchen appliance or honeymoon cash, but in the 1800s, the hottest commodity for brides in Jefferson County was a Tyler coverlet.

“Coverlets were given to new brides to commemorate their special day and Harry Tyler did a great number of the coverlets here in Jefferson County,” said Jefferson County Historical Society executive director Toni Engleman.

A coverlet is a decorative blanket. Ones on display at the historical society were woven by hand using intricate designs original to Harry Tyler, who lived in southern Jefferson County.

“He moved to Butterville in 1834 when he started his weaving business,” Engleman said.

He made his own looms, and he made his own patterns with signature motifs.

“His work was always evolving depending on what was popular during that day,” Engleman said. “The name of the brides went in the corners along with the date it was woven.

The cost for one was $2.75, a pricey gift during that time.

“The coverlets were popular with upper class people so if you had a Tyler coverlet, you were considered high society,” said Engleman.

Tyler produced around 300 coverlets in his lifetime and the historical society has more than 50 of them.

It’s presumed to be the largest collection of Tyler coverlets in the nation.

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