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Mary Paul, Germantown,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1821

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sampler size: 25¾” x 26¼” • framed size: 30” x 30½” • price: $5200

Entitled, “Mary’s Wish,” this is a large and beautifully stitched sampler with the place name of Germantown, an early neighborhood in the northern section of Philadelphia and well known for the Revolutionary War battle fought there. A tightly worked rendition of a double-chimney Federal house sits on a small stepped lawn and an excellent assortment of motifs arranged in a balanced and airy composition contribute to the pictorial nature of the sampler. Our particular favorite is the tiny scene of the curly-tailed black dog flanked by stylized pine trees to the right of the roof. The great majority of the motifs are recognizable designs that originated in the many fine Quaker schools in the area, and likely indicators that the maker, Mary Paul, worked this sampler while attending a Quaker school.

The daughter of Henry K. and Ann (Coon) Paul, Mary was born 1809/1810 and the family lived in Germantown for generations. A wonderful book entitled Ancient and Modern Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill by Rev. S. F. Hotchkin (Philadelphia, 1889), informs us that the Paul family bought the “antique” stone house at the corner of Main (now Germantown Ave.) and Gorgas Streets and that, “The door-jamb contained bullet marks of the Revolutionary times, while a tree in the rear was once pierced with a cannon ball.” Additionally that one of Mary’s brothers, Henry C. Paul, when a boy, stood nearby and, in 1824, observed Gen. Lafayette’s visit and recognition of the Germantown Blues, an important militia group.

The Paul family was no longer affiliated with a Friends Meeting but Mary’s father, Henry K. Paul maintained a relationship with the church. When he died in 1868, notice was published in the Friends’ Intelligencer. Mary remained single and died on September 24, 1898 at age 89. Along with many members, she is buried in old section of the cemetery of the Germantown Church of the Brethren.

Worked in silk on linen, it is in excellent condition, with some very slight darkening to the linen towards the upper part of the sampler. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled cherry frame with a maple bead.

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