Lot Number: 279 (description taken from Sotheby's catalogue)
Rare Needlework Sampler, Mary Stanton (1814-1858), Charlestown, Rhode Island, Dated 1825
Worked in silk threads on dark green linen in queen, chain, tent, rice, eyelet, satin, long-armed cross-, and cross-stitches.
Inscribed: Mary.Stanton s. Sampler made in the year. 1825/age 11 years. Ann.E.Mynard Instructor/Seize mortals
seize the transient hour/Improve each moment as it flies/Lifes a short summer man a flower/He dies alas how soon
he dies. Schoolmistress: Ann E. Mynard Instructor. 20 1/2 by 17 1/2 inches. (24 threads to the inch).
Sothby's estimate: $13,500 - $18,750 (with 25% buyer's premium added)
$6,000 (SPECIAL SALES PRICE - no
(To purchase call 860-388-6809)
Blue houses on samplers such as that worked by Mary Stanton of Charlestown, Rhode Island, in 1825, reflect a local
custom of painting bay houses in the Newport area. Mary has stitched an impressive, although now somewhat faded,
blue building with five front windows and ornate, double-glazed doors, which are outlined with a row of sand-colored
queen stitches. The tent-stitched figure of a woman carrying a parasol is wearing an elegant gown with a stylish
bustle. The gentleman accompanying her is suitably attired in a fashionable top hat. A broad-leafed tree shades
the pair, but it also holds an alarmingly large blackbird. An equally impressive vase of dainty flowers balances
the design. Having embroidered her sampler with alphabets, numbers and a verse, Mary was also obliged by her teacher,
Ann E. Mynard, to stitch the vowels, a, e, i, 0, U, and y. This sampler has been worked on green-dyed linen that
greatly resembles linseywoolsey.1 While most samplers in North America were worked on plain even-weave linen or
homespun, it is not uncommon to find schoolgirl embroideries dated between the years 1798 and 1832 stitched on
a ground of linsey-woolsey fabric. The domestic cultivation of flax and the weaving of linen expanded with the
need for greater independence from imported English wool. Linseywoolsey was woven with a strong warp of linen threads;
the horizontal weft was of a soft, warm wool. The result was a thrifty, practical fabric that could be produced
locally or within the home. A plain wool or tam my background was not favored in this country for sampler embroidery,
although a few examples may be found. Colored linen, such as that used by Mary, was also uncommon. Most frequently,
plain linen was provided by the teacher.2 Mary Stanton's sampler was among those exhibited at the Rhode Island
Historical Society, Providence, in 1920. This exhibition of 334 samplers reflected a growing interest in collecting
American samplers in this country. While .Mary's sampler appears to be totally unrelated in style to the superb
eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century pictorial needlework of Providence, Newport, Warren, and Bristol, her
embroidery is still regarded as being an historically important example of Rhode Island textile art.3 Mary Stanton
was the daughter of Samuel Stanton and Elizabeth Reynolds of South Kingston, Rhode Island, who were married on
April 11, 1799. He was town clerk of Charlestown for more than forty years. Mary, the last of their five children,
was born on November 6, 1814, and was attending Ann Mynard's school by the time she was eleven. Charlestown was
originally settled as part of a land agreement between the Narragansett Indians and Roger Williams, the minister
whose doctrines had so offended the magistrates that he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635.
He and his followers moved to Rhode Island to begin a grand experiment in religious freedom. Thomas Stanton, one
of the new colony's first settlers, arrived in 1635. A century later, the town of Charlestown was formed, and it
is on a portion of the Narragansett chief Ninigret's land that the Stanton house was built.5 In 1840, Mary Stanton
married James Nichols Kenyon (d. 1895). They had two daughters. Mary Stanton Kenyon died on August 23, 1858, at
the age of forty-four and is buried in a small cemetery on her family's property.6
1. Ring, Let Virtue Be a Guide to Thee, 59, 61.
2. Frances Little, Early American Textiles (New York, NY: Century Co., 1931), 19. See also Krueger,Gallery of American
Samplers, 15, 16.
3. Ring, Let Virtue Be a Guide to Thee, 244.
4. William A. Stanton, A Record, Genealogical, Biographical, Statistical, of Thomas Stanton of Connecticut and
His Descendants: 1635-1891 (Albany, NY, no date), 435, 436.
5. William Franklin Tucker, Historical Sketch of the Town of Charlestown, in Rhode Island, from 1636 to 1876 (Westerly,
RI: Utter Printers, 1877),9-18, 51.This book was brought to my attention by a clerk in the town hall, to whom I
am exceedingly grateful. See also Ring, Let Virtue Be a Guide to Thee, 42. A handwritten genealogical history of
the Stanton family accompanied the sampler. Dated January 8, 1982, Mary's descendant is unidentified.
6. Tucker, Historical Sketch, 51. See also Stanton, Record, 435. The descendant's letter gives 1840 as the year
of Mary's marriage. Her date of death is on her gravestone, located in a corner of King Tom's Place, as the property
is now known.
Brimfield Antiques, Brimfield, Massachusetts, May, 1982
Exhibited and Literature: LACMA, pp. 92, 94, fig. 39
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
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