This sampler, by Rebekah Abbot, is a "Rara Avis" in more ways than one! First, it is worked on a deep green linsey-woolsey ground, one much sought after by collectors. Linsey-woolsey is a combination of vertical bluish-green linen threads (warp) and yellow-green wool horizontal filler (weft). According to Betty Ring in Girlhood Embroidery, Volume I, page 112, "A growing preference for samplers worked on a green ground became noticeable near the turn of the century. They appeared in Boston as early as 1788, and later throughout New England . . . they were especially popular in the coastal region from the northern shore of Massachusetts to southern Maine".
In 1810, eleven year old Rebekah Abbot worked this sampler, one of the most exciting examples we have had to pleasure to present. Her sampler contains a number of motifs that point to the Newbury/Newburyport area in Massachusetts as the place of her schooling . . . If not her schooling, then most certainly that of her instructor. Certain enduring motifs link the piece to that area and they include the checkered sawtooth borders as well as the same pair of colorful parrots that appear on a sampler worked by Elizabeth Coffin in 1784, (Fig. 130 in Girlhood Embroideries, Vol. I by Betty Ring). On this particular sampler, Elizabeth worked the initials AW for her schoolmistress Ann Waters. Rebecka includes the initials DD, presumably those of her instructor, but the similarities are such that her piece is most certainly from that same body of work. While other examples featuring the paired parrots are known, as far as I know, none were worked on linsey-woolsey. Her sampler contains four alphabets, a numerical progression, and a passing thought that says: "There is but a step between me and death." Had she known she would live to over 80 years of age perhaps she might have chosen a happier thought for her sampler. Rebekah died on January 25, 1883.
The colors on the sampler are bright and vibrant . . . blue, gold, cream, and pink are set off nicely against the deep green ground. The bottom portion of the sampler is literally filled to overflowing with spot motifs, the most compelling of which are the two long tailed parrots. This ambitious work by our talented samplermaker is a visual treat to the eye and Rebekah's parents must have been very proud of her indeed!
Preliminary genealogical research shows Rebekah to be the second of seven children born to Zebadiah and his wife Sarah (Farringon) Abbot on June 5, 1799. Their place of residence was Andover, Massachusetts, located in Essex County, in the northeast corner of the state. On 2 Sept 1824 she married Deacon Robert Knights of Milford, NH. She died on Jan 25th 1883.
Rebekah Abbot's sampler combines schoolgirl spontaneity with technical skill, and the result is a sampler of great visual appeal. It is in very good condition with only some minor weakness to the ground in several places along the bottom. It has been conservation mounted into a figured mahogany frame and protected with Tru-Vue glass.
Size is 15" x 17-1/2" (sight).
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