Hannah Fritz, Merion Square Seminary, Merion, Pennsylvania, 1831
Opportunities to acquire rare, highly recognizable American schoolgirl samplers from recognized bodies of work are infrequent. This one is truly a masterpiece. Purchased directly from the family, it is in its original frame, with wavy glass and original stretcher.This impressive sampler was worked at the Merion Square Seminary located in Eastern Pennsylvania along the Schuylkill River. The few rare examples found from this school are highly sophisticated and, fortunately for us, another sampler worked during the same time period by Catherine H. Hagey at this school is signed at the bottom "Merion Square Seminary" and includes the name of the instructress, a Miss Ann B. Dean, Preceptress. There is no question that these two samplers were worked under the tutelage of the same individual.
The school, a boarding and day school for both boys and girls, was built in 1812 as a result of money and land donated by Jacob Jones, whose motivation was to educate a certain portion of orphan and poor children free. According to the History of Montgomery County published in 1884, Merion Square was a small town located at the center of Lower Merion Township which included "thirty-five houses, two churches, a schoolhouse and 207 inhabitants." The talented instructress from this school is surely to be applauded for being the source for this exceptional group of samplers.
This outstanding, well-executed 1831 sampler by Hanna Fritz features a lush floral cartouche which encloses both her name and the date the sampler was completed. In addition, there are a profusion of Quaker motifs including a swan, paired birds, flowers and more. The sampler is surrounded on three sides with an intricately worked queen stitch strawberry border. Found on this and the sampler worked by Catherine H. Hagey is the same bushy tailed squirrel, 8 sided geometric medallions and cartouches around initials. The verses, in the classic Quaker tradition are titled "Extract". Clearly the Merion Square Seminary was a school that upheld the high standards of fine samplermaking well known in the Philadelphia area.
Hannah was born Jan 1, 1820 and married Samuel DeHaven on May 23, 1844. According to the genealogy that accompanies the piece, they had four children. Hannah died on July 11, 1891 at the age of 71 years. The condition of her sampler is exemplary and the color is lustrous! It is conservation mounted on acid free to protect and preserve it. When we had the paint removed down to the original surface on the frame we found the original surface to be 18-caret gold leaf. Some minor touch-up was done to the frame but other than that it is all original.
Sampler Size, including frame 26" x 28-1/2". Includes genealogical and DAR file.
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