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Stephen & Carol Huber: 17th - 19th Century Needlework

antique needlework sampler Huber 266

Lot Number: 266 (description taken from Sotheby's catalogue)


Worked in silk, twisted silk threads and crinkled silk floss on linen in eyelet, straight, satin and cross-stitches. Inscribed: Wrought by Jane Abbot aged 10 years Peterborough Sept. 1811. 15 1/2  by 16 inches. (36 threads to the inch).

Sothby's estimate: $8,700 - $11,500 (with 25% buyer's premium added)

Sold (SPECIAL SALES PRICE - no buyers premium)

(To purchase call 860-388-6809)

Catalogue note:
The inscription on Jane Abbot's pictorial sampler is the single most popular verse to be found on American sampler embroidery. She has also stitched a charming four-bay house by working long-reaching stitches of creamy floss that have the look of overlapping, wooden planks. The elaborate front door has been embroidered with lengthy, herringbone stitches of twisted silk the color of beeswax. Prominent corner boards, often shown in sampler embroidery and the tip of the roof have been meticulously outlined in thick loops of chain-stitching. The picturesque, green-gladed bourn beside the house may have reminded Jane of her own home, built by her father in a shallow ravine beside the Nubanusit River.1 Inside the green and beige sawtooth bands, another wider, three-sided border frames the sampler; it is decorated with cherry- tree twigs and fruit and a small cross-stitched basket of flowers at the top. In typical New Hampshire fashion, the birds in the small tree have been outlined in dark silk threads, as has the gaping knothole on the trunk of the thick shade tree. In 1811, Eliza Carter worked an identical tree on her sampler in the same classroom. 2 Probably a student of the same instructor, Jane's sister Sally worked a sampler in Peterborough in 1818 (fig. 28). While Sally's embroidery does not appear to follow the exact format worked by her sister, it is similar. There is a comparable range of thread colors, and the alphabet lettering occurs in an identical sequence, with the eyelet capital letters being second in the orderly rows. In this instance, the flower-strewn border flows upward from crosspatterned cornucopias to an ivory, silk-ribbon bow and bowknots. Both these motifs have been outlined in threads of dark indigo silk-a hallmark of New Hampshire sampler embroideries. Daniel and Sally Abbot lived in Peterborough, New Hampshire, with their four children in a house by the Nubanusit that has long since vanished. Jane Abbot was born on September 30, 1800, in Peterborough, and her sister Sally was born on November 3, 1806, in Newburyport.3 Daniel Abbot was a cabinetmaker, librarian, and town clerk.4 Jane Abbot became the second wife of John Scott (1797- 1846), after 1831. Also born in Peterborough, he had moved to Michigan and become an established pillar of Detroit society, as well as a political figure and successful builder. After the death of her husband, Jane was bequeathed an annuity of $250 to be paid "half yearly," while the balance of his vast estate reverted to his only surviving child, James.5 On May 6, 1830, when she was twenty-three, Sally Abbot married Jefferson Fletcher, a clothier in Peterborough. They were parents of two daughters and a son. About 1849, Jefferson moved the family to his place of birth, Westford, Massachusetts, where Sally's father and her sister Jane also made their home.6 Jane Abbot Scott died in 1880, and Sally Abbot Fletcher in 1887.7

1. Rev. Sebastian V. Ramge, The Peterborough Meeting House and Common (unpublished manuscript; St. Joseph's Priory, Peterborough, NH, c. 1970), 14. Ramge records that Daniel Abbot was an important builder and cabinetmaker in Peterborough, known to have assisted in the completion of the new meeting house. The house on the Nubanusit for many years served as his cabinet shop, chair factory, and residence. In 1813 he turned to the manufacture of cotton, forming the Eagle Factory with a few of his friends.

2. The Carter sampler is in a private collection; see Bolton and Coe, American Samplers, 136. See also Skinner catalogue, Bolton Gallery, Bolton, MA, Fine Americana, 1098, May 30, 1986, lot 144.

3. Town Records, Peterborough, New Hampshire, compo Daniel Abbot, town clerk, 1815, vol. 1: 116.

4. Albert Smith, History of the Town of Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (Boston, MA: George H. Ellis, 1876),5,6, 199,281.

5. Silas Farmer, History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan (reprint, Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1969), 475. See also Clarence M. and M. Agnes Burton, eds., History of Wayne County and the City of Detroit, Michigan, vol. 2 (Chicago, IL, and Detroit, MI: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1930), 1039-1041. See also George Abbot Morison, History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, vol. 1 (Ringe, NH: Richard R. Smith Publisher, Inc., 1954), map, 148.

6. Smith, History of the Town of Peterborough, 202. See also Morison, History of Peterborough, 562, and Federal Census, Westford, Massachusetts, 1850

7. Family Record Archives, Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT.

Exhibited and Literature: LACMA, p. 72-73, fig. 27

Adams House Antiques, Tustin, California, June, 1978

(860) 388-6809


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