Old King Cole's Crown
McKim's Piecing Layout
This version of OLD KING COLE'S CROWN (also called KING'S CROWN) first appeared in print in Ruby McKim's Kansas City Star column 1929: see Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM, p. 189-5, or Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS (#3184). There also are a variety of similar but not identical versions of the pattern, dating back to the Ladies' Art Company Catalogue (#362). In the following note from Ruby McKim's 101 PATCHWORK PATTERNS, 1931 (p. 22), she suggests that the position of every other block be reversed (see as demonstrated in the tiling below — the darkness indicates wisdom, depth in experience, or in space/time, and thus reflecting the "Old" in the title):
"Very simple to piece are these two dissimilar triangles, which when pieced together, make an interesting design square. Grouped for a quilt top they form a more intricate pattern if the positions of every other one is reversed, than when set together in the usual checkerboard plan with alternate plain and white squares."
In terms of naming, why was the title selected, "Old King Cole's Crown," and not just "King's Crown"? One thought might be that the piecing layout (see left) for the "crown" looks diminutive, almost seeming to imitate the little white sailor's hat made by children with folded paper. On the other hand, the names of children's games (and rhymes) are not unusual in quilt designs, so the title fits in well with the tradition. Related emblems at this site would include:
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
PUSS IN THE CORNER
BUTTERFLY IN CIRCLES
Old King Cole Nursery Rhyme:
Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he.
He called for his pipe in the middle of the night
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Every fiddler he had a fine fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he.
Oh, there's none so rare, as can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three.