I had a great time in Michigan where I visited the Capitol City Quilters Guild for a presentation and workshop. The mystery of the coffee cups quilts? Turns out it was not that much of a "mystery" after all.
(Michigan is sure pretty in autumn! They had a lot more color than we have here in Illinois.)
I brought a photo of the quilt along with me and showed it after my presentation. Several members of the guild remembered working on it in 1988. The quilt was a group effort and commissioned by the General Foods company, which was located in Battle Creek, Michigan. According to member Jan Gagliano, there was a record of it in the guild's history notes -
"Coffee Cup Quilts: Members agreed to make two Coffee Cup quilts for General Foods' quilt collection, each approximately 60" x 60", one blue & white and one red & white, to be tied. $625 to be paid to Capitol City Quilt Guild for each quilt. General Foods is to provide fabric and pattern."
Jan said that members worked on the blocks at guild meetings. "It was fun and made us a nice profit." Jackie Beard, another member, told me that she joined the guild a year before and that it was her first attempt at applique.
General Foods eventually merged with another large food company in the Chicago area shortly after that. When the two companies were combined, "General Foods" was eventually dropped from the corporate name and existed only as part of a brand name for a flavored instant coffee, General Foods International. So a coffee cups quilt was appropriate and perhaps may have used for advertising purposes?
Remember buying those instant International Coffees? They're still available but sold under a different brand. My husband sees them at the company store and occasionally brings home a few tins for me (they're sold in plastic "tins" now).
His client company acquired the quilt along with the brand and displays it at their corporate headquarters. I'm glad that they did not just toss the quilt into storage somewhere. Apparently, someone in the company appreciates quilts enough to display them.
According to the guild, there was a second quilt commissioned - coffee cups made in blue and white. When I sent my husband on the hunt for that one he couldn't find it since some of the areas of the building were being renovated. He suspected some quilts had been taken down or moved. The two sister quilts were separated and the mystery of that blue and white quilt may never be solved. But at least now I know the story. And, I just may make my own appliqued coffee cups quilt someday . . . .