Cynthia Ann Hoffner,

Cynthia Ann Hoffner,

Springfield Township, Hamilton County, Ohio, 1846

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sampler size: 24¼” x 23½” • frame size: 29” x 27¾” • price: $9000

The samplers made in Ohio have been appreciated by collectors and researched by scholars for many years. There were far fewer samplers made in Ohio than in the more eastern states because of the state was less populous, of course and a groundbreaking exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries 1800-1850 by guest curator Sue Studebaker (Ohio University Press, 2002) documents many of the different groups and types. We are pleased to offer this large and particularly richly colored and beautifully worked sampler that was made in Springfield Township, Hamilton County, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. The samplermaker was eleven-year-old Cynthia Ann Hoffner and she filled her sampler with a great many motifs, some worked in an extremely tight cross-stitch. The composition is outstanding with a splendid house and lawn scene grounding the sampler along the bottom and many birds, dogs and butterflies animating it throughout. The stylish patterned border that surrounds it on three sides provides an excellent framework. Cynthia’s sampler closely resembles but considerably surpasses in quality and aesthetics another one made by Elizabeth Ann Scank also in 1846 and published as figure 21 in Sue Studebaker’s book. Our sampler is now the third one known to have been made at what must have been a highly regarded school.

Cynthia Ann Hoffner was the daughter of John and Roseannah (Hess) Hoffner and was born in Springfield Township on March 16, 1835, Cynthia. The Hoffner family in America began with Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Johann Georg Hoffner (1735-1799), who emigrated from Wurtemberg, Germany and was in residence in Philadelphia in 1762. Cynthia’s grandparents, Jacob Henry and Mary Magdelena Hoffner, arrived in Cincinnati in 1805 with their five children, including Cynthia’s father, John. History of Hamilton County (1881) mentions Cynthia’s uncles, Thomas and Jacob (then ages 9 and 6) “walking the entire distance, and crossing the river at Wheeling, Virginia.” Cynthia’s parents were married in Springfield Township in 1832, after the death of John’s first wife in 1830.

One of Cynthia’s uncles, Jacob Hoffner, was an early Cincinnati real estate developer who donated land for many churches, Hoffner Lodge (now named for him), and other charities. He was a noted art collector and benefactor of the University of Cincinnati; he donated the university’s much celebrated “Mick and Mack” lion statues. Part of his estate now comprises the Hoffner Historic District and Hoffner Park in the city’s Northside.

In 1852, at age 17, Cynthia married Hudson S. Biddle (1825-1875) who was from the early Philadelphia Biddle family. They continued the family tradition and moved westward, settling in Madison County, Indiana where they had at least seven children. Cynthia died in 1906 and is buried along with family members in Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson, Indiana.

The sampler was worked in wool and on linen and is in excellent condition with some very minor loss to a few wool stitches and stabilization to a few areas of the linen. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled cherry frame with a maple bead.

From Sue Studebaker’s Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries 1800-1850 (Ohio University Press, 2002)

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