Reproduction quilts by Arch Quilts of Elmsford, NY
Astute collectors know that many of the quilts advertised on ebay as "handmade" "antique" or "vintage" are really mass-produced Chinese imports less than 20 years old. But without care it's easy to be fooled by these knockoffs, and even when they know these quilts' origin, ebay sellers frequently misrepresent them as homemade or antique. You can read about two such examples here and here and learn to spot the hallmarks of Chinese repro quilts here. These are great quilts for worry-free decorating, but unlike homemade quilts they depreciate in value. In deciding how much to pay for a secondhand Arch quilt, keep in mind that when new, even the biggest and most complex examples retailed for around $200, most for much less.
One of the first and, by all accounts, most prolific importers of these quilts was a company called Arch. But while Arch quilts seem to be ubiquitous, unearthing information about the company itself has been something of an exercise. From New York corporate records and vendor recollections, Arch Associates, Inc. was founded by K.C. Foung in Elmsford, NY in 1987, and like American-Pacific (notorious for its Smithsonian quilt knockoffs of the early 1990s), imported mass-produced quilts from China which it wholesaled to large department stores and other major retailers. Sometimes a tag ("Arch Quilts, Elmsford NY" or later "Arch Quilts, Hawthorne NY") was attached, but it is possible that some quilts may have been sold to retailers without these identifying labels. In 1993 Arch Associates registered its "Arch Home Collection" bumblebee trademark; the last of its trademarks was cancelled in 2001. Occasionally "Arch Home Collection" bedding (including sheets) can be found on ebay under the now-extinct Cannon Royal Family label. An "Arch Associates, Inc." whose business is home furnishing textiles now operates out of a residential address in Summit, NJ, so it appears the company is still in business in one form or another. (If you have any information on Arch, I'd appreciate it if you'd contact me here.)
Arch's quilt designs are carefully aligned with home-decor trends, so dating their quilts is reasonably easy. Earlier examples tend to be in simple designs and in pastel combinations of dusty pink and gray-blue; later quilts are more complex, in "Ralph Lauren" jeweltones of hunter, navy, and burgundy or "Laura Ashley" sherbet colors which often included yellow, an uncommon color in earlier pastel quilts. As a general rule, the more richly-colored, densely quilted, and complex an Arch quilt is, the more recently it was made. By far the most common Arch quilts on ebay are Dresden Plates, although those with alternating Lemoyne Star and Railroad Crossing blocks run a close second. (One ebay seller seems to have an endless supply of these quilts.) More than once, the Baltimore Album, New York Beauty and Amish style quilts have been advertised as antique originals. Here's a screenshot of completed ebay auctions for Arch quilts when they're correctly identified. In July 2008, none sold for more than $40.
The following images are of quilts from ebay and elsewhere whose Arch label was either pictured or which had been positively identified by their sellers as Arch quilts from the label. Click to see closeups; please email me for more. (If you have an quilt you'd like to add to the collection, please do send photos!)
Baltimore Album and other pictorial applique
Miscellaneous traditional designs
Miscellaneous original designs
More (but far from all) mass-produced, Chinese import reproduction quilts:
House of Quilts (including Judi Boisson)
Carolina Quilts (going out of business; current source of the Baltimore Album quilt pictured above)
Denyse Schmidt (contemporary)
QVC (many brands)
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