It's not that someone forgot to title this block, NAMELESS STAR is actually the historical name intended. Unlike NO NAME STAR, we might suppose the quilter just couldn't come up with any special meaning for the design. "Oh well, never mind" she said to herself at last, "I'll just call this one Nameless."
On the other hand, the title might have been, and probably was, quite purposeful, because the pattern itself is about as classic and unoriginal as one could get, just your basic, all-serviceable, eight-pointed-star (see Barbara Brackman's ENCYCOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS, #2138). So it really is nameless (as illustrated left) in the sense that here we simply have a generic, that is, with no significant attribute to take it beyond the eight-point template.
NAMELESS STAR appeared in Nancy Cabot's column in the Chicago Tribune on October 20, 1934, she says:
"The inner design of 'Nameless Star' is taken from the old 'Variable Star' pattern. 'Nameless Star' is one of the oldest of the star patterns and has been handed down from generation to generation."
Cabot's newspaper article on the nine-patch VARIABLE STAR, published in 1933, also refers back to the same 8-point "inner design" or archetype, described "as the foundation on which so many other designs are built," and therefore rightly termed "variable."
Of course, the moment NAMELESS STAR, or any other quilt pattern is pieced, it inherits a whole new persona as determined by the specific colors, fabric prints, and other design choices made by the individual quilter. Beth Gutcheon in her brilliant and beautifully hand-illustrated PERFECT PATCHWORK PRIMER (see Book List) was so right when she complained that quilt designs are sometimes thought to require certain colors or types of fabric prints. The "inner design" refers to the basic framework, without these surface changes and is meant to inspire any and all variations of expression to the heart's content.
More quilt designs at this site celebrating the joyful appearance of things absent, hidden or missing, include:
DOVES IN THE WINDOW
and the surprisingly enigmatic: