Vintage quilt collection of local collector Eli Leon for sale

Eli Leon. Photo: Courtesy Eli Leon Living Trust

For 55 years, local Reichian psychotherapist Eli Leon collected kitcheniana, textiles, aprons, vintage clothing, traditional standard quilts, and, most famously, Afro-tradition quilts which he bought in California, and on repeated research and collecting trips to East Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas.

Beginning on Friday, July 28, through Sunday July 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Geneva and Julie Addison will be selling his collection of approximately 500 traditional standard quilts in his home at 5663 Dover St. in Oakland, a few blocks south of Berkeley. The collection is staggering, with quilts from the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century. Proceeds from the sale will go towards Leon’s care. See the Addisons’  blog about the sale.

At my Quirky Berkeley blog, I explored Leon’s life, home and collections. He began collecting quilts in the 1970s. Ten years and hundreds of traditional quilts later, his focus shifted to quilts made by African-American quilters. His collection of African-American quilts will not be for sale; they are museum-bound.

The Addisons are faced with the challenge of presenting and making accessible about 500 quilts. Answer: racks and shelves and tables.


Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon quilts. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Here are a few of the individual quilts which will be for sale:

Postage stamp quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Postage-stamp quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell

A postage-stamp quilt is made from hundreds (or more) tiny squares of fabric, usually scraps left over from previous projects. One of Leon’s postage-stamp quilts has more than 11,000 tiny pieces.

Yo-yo quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell

This type of quilt is called a yo-yo quilt. There’s no batting and not quilting required. In the old days, the circles were all cut with a template. Folding the edge over and the stitching was eyeballed.

Sampler quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Sampler quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Tumbling blocks quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Tumbling blocks quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Snowball quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Snowball quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Furrow or sunshine and shadow quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Furrow or sunshine and shadow quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Log cabin quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Log cabin quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Double wedding ring quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Double wedding ring quilt. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Also to be sold are vintage aprons that Leon collected.

Eli Leon aprons. Photo: Tom Dalzell
Eli Leon aprons. Photo: Tom Dalzel
Eli Leon aprons. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Leon was a passionate and driven and skilled collector. To see his collection of traditional quilts is to see obsessed genius at work, especially when one realizes that this was not the main event in the main arena of his quilt collecting.


The Addison Studio Sale, the estate sale of the artist and collector Eli Leon is on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, July 28, 29 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Address: 5663 Dover St., Oakland 94609.

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.