Elisabeth Steinbach,

Elisabeth Steinbach,

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 1839

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sampler size: 11¼” x 16” • framed size: 13¾” x 18½” • sold

Samplers made within the flourishing Pennsylvania German communities of southeastern Pennsylvania are highly distinctive and share characteristics not found on other American samplers. A great assortment of motifs along with alphabets and additional letters are often present, arranged in a floating format. Interestingly the Pennsylvania German motifs are identifiable to very specific regions and they have been the subject of much scholarship within the world of early samplers for many decades.

This handsome and very appealing Pennsylvania German sampler was made in 1839 by Elisabeth Steinbach; she employed many classic motifs and lettering styles organizing them into the overall type of composition favored within this community. The largest of her alphabets, worked in a wonderful checkerboard pattern, appears on many Pennsylvania German samplers. One cannot help but notice that Elisabeth found a spot for the final “Z” in the lower right corner, where it appears backwards.

Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans is an excellent book written by Tandy and Charles Hersh and published in 1991 by The Pennsylvania German Society; hundreds of samplers and related needlework items were analyzed for this book. Mrs. Hersh continued to study and consult and in fact became aware of this Elisabeth Steinbach sampler in the later 1990s. Specific motifs found on a sampler published in the Hersh book (figure 6-41) and another in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - the tall feathery potted plant, the carnation sprouting from a three-dotted heart and others - led Mrs. Hersh to a Lehigh County attribution for the Steinbach sampler.

Worked in silk and linen on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded cherry frame. 

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