Lot Number: 270 (description taken from Sotheby's catalogue)
RARE NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER, MARY A. RICHARDS (1814-1873), JAFFREY, NEW HAMPSHIRE, DATED 1825
Worked in silk threads and crinkled silk floss on linen in satin, padded satin, outline and cross-stitches with
hem-stitching. Inscribed: Family Record/Mr Luther A. Richards born/sept. 26 1785/Miss Mary Page born/June 8
1794/Luther Richards & Mary Page married July 5 1813 Mary A Richards AE 11 1825. 19 3/4 by 19 inches.
(24 threads to the inch).
Sothby's estimate: $10,000 - $12,500 (with 25% buyer's premium added)
Sold (SPECIAL SALES PRICE - no
(To purchase call 860-388-6809)
The family record sampler flourished in private schools for girls during the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
A surprising number of such samplers have recently surfaced, attesting to the increased popularity of this form
of embroidery, particularly in northeastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, and around Portland, Maine.
Prized for their genealogical information, these embroideries have provided collectors with a precious art form
that is distinctly American in concept. Genealogical samplers worked earlier in the century, such as those made
by Louisa Plympton (fig. 21) in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and Mary Ann Goodrich (fig. 37) in Wethersfield,
Connecticut, were skillfully conceived but more pictorial in style. With the exception of the exquisite Hanson
sampler from Portland, Maine (fig. 35), family register embroideries worked during the last years of the 1820s
consisted primarily of a list of finely cross-stitched inscriptions covering a central panel, which was framed
by a wide border of distinctive floral patterns. Accordingly, it is within these characteristic border motifs that
comparisons may be made and groups of related pieces assembled. Evidence of this kind will eventually lead us to
the identification of the schoolmistresses and perhaps then to the location of the schoolrooms in which these remarkable
samplers were made. Mary Richards's sampler border, for example, is embellished with specific flower shapes, such
as the ivory and old-rose, full faced blossoms with carefully scalloped edges, small sprays of dotted strawberries,
and padded, bell-shaped flowers in bright blue silk. Marianna Hornor, in The Story of Samplers, identifies an identical
sampler stitched by Sarah Blanchard "in Jaffrey, 1829."1 The flower-strewn borders on these two samplers
are fundamentally the same, which indicates that both girls attended the same, as yet unidentified, school in Jaffrey,
New Hampshire.2 A similar border appears on the sampler worked by Dolly Yalding of Alstead (fig. 33) in 1824. While
the samplers are dissimilar stylistically, such evidence indicates that these embroideries were born in separate,
but probably nearby schools. To this date, the classrooms have not been located, although they were both, most
likely, found in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, in the vicinity of Jaffrey. Although Mary's sampler is inscribed
"1825," additional information has been added, including the birth date of her sister, Huldah, born 1827,
and of her brother, Mark-an unfinished "M" on the sampler-born 1828. Empty space was customarily left
on genealogical samplers so that the maker could update vital information, such as births and deaths, in the manner
of the family Bible. Mary Adeline Richards, the daughter of Mary Page and Luther Abijah Richards of Waterbury,
Connecticut, was born on January 1, 1814, in Westminster, Windham County, Vermont, the first of thirteen children.
She married Hobart Victory Welton in 1834 and died in 1873.3
1. The Blanchard sampler is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; see Marianna Merritt Hornor,
The Story of Samplers (Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1971), 41. The relationship of these very
distinctive border flowers was brought to my attention by Betty Ring. Her astute observation may lead to the attribution
of many New Hampshire samplers worked in the first half of the nineteenth century to schoolmistresses active in
the town of Jaffrey. I am indebted to her for assistance.
2. Ibid., 41.
3. Family Record Archives, Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake
City, UT. Information regarding the birth date of Mary Page is incorrect, according to the sampler.
Exhibited and Literature: LACMA, pp. 80-81, fig. 32
Just Us on Court, Tuscon, Arizona, March, 1980
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
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