Lot Number: 297 (description taken from Sotheby's catalogue)
RARE NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER, PHEBE BROWN SAYRE (B. 1812), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, 1823
Worked with silk and metal threads on linen in eyelet, chain, queen and cross-stitches. Inscribed: Phebe B Sayre's
work aged 11 years September/20th/Newark 1823. Some minor stains and losses. 19 by 13 1/4 inches. (26
threads to the inch).
Sothby's estimate: $8,750 - $11,500 (with 25% buyer's premium added)
Sold (SPECIAL SALES PRICE - no
(To purchase call 860-388-6809)
Phebe Sayre's sampler was designed by a rather uninspired schoolmistress. The prosaic style, drawing heavily on
traditionally popular needlework alphabet forms, is conspicuously similar to examples worked in hundreds of private
boarding schools for girls along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Virginia, during the first quarter of the
nineteenth century. The most common sampler pattern, the strawberry border, edges three sides of the sampler. Although
the remaining strip of border design along the bottom consists of a more interesting double serpentine vine, the
building, picket fencing, birds, and tree patterns are all reminiscent of samplers worked in the vicinity of the
Delaware Valley. The hot-air balloon, however, is an unusual element. A sampler worked in 1835 by Caroline Eliza
Sayre of Newark has recently surfaced.1 Although there is no evidence to substantiate the theory, the girls may
have been related. While the format of the two samplers varies, the similar placement and design of the trees,
fencing, and the two dogs within the pictorial scene may suggest a common bond. The same schoolmistress may have
been responsible for tutoring both girls. The youngest of five children, Phebe Brown Sayre was born in 1812, the
daughter of Samuel Sayre and Rebecca Southwell of Newark, New Jersey. Her father, a mason, was a man of considerable
wealth.2 After the death of her parents, Phebe lived with her sister, Joanna M. Murray, and Joanna's daughter,
Mary Jane, until she married Charles Mattoon, March 26, 1857, when she was forty-five years of age.3
1. The Sayre sampler was in the Kapnek collection and is now in a private collection; see Krueger, Gallery of American
2. Thomas M. Banta, The Sayre Family: Lineage of Thomas Sayre, a Founder of South hampton (New York, NY, 1901),374.
See also Estate Records, Newark, New Jersey, January 27,1840.
3. Federal Census, Newark, New Jersey, 1850. See also Marriage Records, Newark, New Jersey, handwritten by Rev.
J. B. Condit, Family History Library of the Church of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake
City, UT. See also Banta, Sayre Family, 374.
Exhibited and Literature: LACMA, p. 130, fig. 62
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
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