Within the world of Schoolgirl Needlework, we occasionally find a sampler worked onto deep green linsey-woolsey . . . a combination of bluish-green linen warp and wool weft which are considered to be quite rare. 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".
Occasionally we find a sampler made on linsey-woolsey from the Westtown School in Pennsylvania and even more rarely from the Mid Atlantic States, but this is quite rare as most were primarily from coastal New England, and even then not all that common. We believe this particular sampler by Maria White, worked when she was 9 years old and dated July 9, 1821 to be from this body of work because of the strong Pennsylvania Dutch influences. Maria's sampler is a particularly attractive one with great visual appeal and wonderful contrast.
Worked in a palate of Peach, Blue, Ivory, Gold and the softest Seafoam Green for the trees, Maria's sampler is a visual delight. Meticulously worked alphabets are followed by verses that reads:
Love the Lord
And He will be a tender Father unto thee
Remember thy Creator now
In youth while time will allow
Teach me to feel anothers woe and hide the fault I see
That mercy to others shew
That mercy shew to me
At the bottom of the sampler we find a large pot of flowers . . . Tulips and Carnations, flanked by birds sitting atop trees. Pennsylvania German floral motifs strain what is known in botany with flowers of differing varieties growing on the same stalk, but in the world of samplers anything is possible!
Finally, we have the Three Towered Structure with a bird perched on the tallest spire as an architectural motif. This motif is found on 18th Century samplers from Northern Germany and the Netherlands and appeared on Pennsylvania samplers circa 1770. This later version of the three towered castle now appears on Pennsylvania samplers with crosses, birds or flowers replacing the flags on the tower and sometimes a person standing in the doorway. (See p. 94-95 in Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans by Tandy and Hirsh for examples of this motif. The Towered structure is one of Oley Township, Berks County signature motif as is the footed vase with carnations and Tulips blooming on the same stem. (See p. 247 for identical treatment of the Tulip and Carnation.) The Trees show Lancaster County Mennonite influences along with the mix of motifs found on Schwenkfelder and NE Berks County Samplers.
Maria employed a mirror image placement of motifs around a central image, unlike most Pennsylvania Dutch samplers that employed a large number of small, single spot motifs. Her sampler is more "English" in style utilizing the mirror image format. What is totally Pennsylvania however, is the fact the the motifs chosen were selected from her European past and brought over with the early settlers to the region. This was the period of continuity and change . . . 1820 to 1859, according to Tandy when samplers were firmly rooted and reflected both the old and the new. Old motifs in a new format . . . Most likely Maria attended a needlework school operated by a non-German woman who taught English style needlework.
Worked in silk on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition and has been conservation mounted into an ebonized pine frame and protected with Tru-Vue Glass to protect and preserve. Size is 21-1/2" x 12" (sight).
Questions? Ask the Ferret