Abigail Marter, Burlington County, New Jersey, circa 1826
Abigail Marter, Burlington County,
New Jersey, circa 1826
The pictorial samplers made in Burlington County, New Jersey in the first three decades of the 19th century form one of the most significant of all groups of American samplers. They often feature balanced compositions of well-developed house and lawn scenes with many Quaker motifs embellishing the rest of the sampler. Abigail Marter’s sampler is a fine example of this type. Three stylized pine trees, one mostly hidden from view, and a fine double chimney house sit on the handsome stepped lawn. The inscription and family information is nicely stitched and contained within a wonderfully delicate octagonal framework.
The Marter family lived in Willingborough, a small town south of Burlington, the county seat. Abigail states on her sampler that she, “Whas born in the year of her age 1814,” which is unusual spelling and phrasing; indeed she was born in 1814. Her parents were Abraham Marter (1784-1851) and Sabillah (Pearson) Marter and her siblings were Hannah, Rachel, Thomas, Rebecca, Sabillah, Joseph, Mary Ann and Abraham. Abigail included the initials of all of these family members on her sampler in a quirky fashion: those in the left column read as they should and those in the right column are reversed, it seems to maintain a certain symmetry. The initials of her youngest sister, Mary Ann Marter, appear centered below her inscription, perhaps, again, for the sake of balance.
Abigail married Abner Durell on February 20, 1834. He was a ship builder who was noted in the published county history for the shipyard that he established in 1832, in Burlington, on the Delaware River. It is said that he, “enjoyed an extended and enviable reputation” and that his yachts and skiffs won many pennants and cups. They had two sons and a daughter, and Abigail died in 1898.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in its original mahogany frame.