love learning about "lost arts and crafts" and was very excited when I first discovered the beauty of penny rugs. The women of long ago were just as interested in adding color and texture to their homes as we are today - and many of them didn't have the option to order pretty things through the catalog at the general mercantile. So they had to make their own "pretty things"! The penny rug is a great example of how women used what they had to not only make what they needed, but to create beautiful pieces that I consider art.
From The Primitive Peddler:
Penny Rug History
In the 1800s, women would use scraps of wool or wool felt from old clothing and hats to create designs for mats or rugs. They would make circles using coins as a template. Each piece was then stitched in blanket stitch fashion. Sometimes, the mats or rugs were backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks. And to make the piece lie flat, a penny was stitched under one of the circles to weigh it down. Coins were so valuable then, that in today's world, if you are fortunate to find an antique piece containing one, you would have a very rare piece.
You can find more photos and information on penny rugs at TurkoTek -"a noncommercial site devoted to collectible weavings, where rug enthusiasts can connect". The photos I found mostly on Ebay under a Penny Rug search . You can find old penny rugs, or new - and the patterns don't have to be just circles. Rugs can be made in the penny rug fashion using any shape or pattern, as shown in the photos above and below. Maybe someday I'll try my hand at making a one myself!