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

Huber Sampler by Lydia Gilman

Lydia Gilman
Needlework Sampler
Canterbury, NH c.1805

A bright and colorful antique needlework sampler worked by Lydia Gilman. This sampler is extremely graphic and exhibits typical Canterbury-style motifs including baskets of flowers, hillocks, birds, and saw-tooth borders. It is inscribed, “Lydia Gilman Sampler, Wrought in the thirteenth year of her age”. The date was picked out at a later time, a not uncommon occurrence when women did not want their age revealed.

Several Lydia Gilman’s were born in southern New Hampshire, a likely candidate for the sampler is Lydia Gilman born in 1791 in Exeter, dating the sampler to c.1803. She was the daughter of Samuel Gilman and Martha Kinsman. Other Lydia’s were born in 1761, 1771, 1786, and 1790. The 1790 Lydia, daughter of David and Lydia Gilman is also a possibility, she died in 1815.

It appears that some of the stitching was done either later by Lydia or by another hand, perhaps a sister or friend, as some areas in the bottom panel are not as finely worked as others although the same threads were used. The right saw-tooth border is not filled in. The Canterbury designs were worked at public schools where motifs were more freehand and a wide variety of background linen and threads were used suggesting that they came from home rather than purchased through the school. Several samplers show influence of more than one stitcher and one of the Canterbury group actually lists the two girls that made it. These schools emphasized reading and writing more than needlework projects so sampler making could easily have been a shared activity given to one girl to work on while the other was being tutored.

Silk on linen; 19 ¼” x 21 ¼” framed.


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