Hannah Ann Smith,

Hannah Ann Smith,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1808

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sampler size: 12½” x 18½” • frame size: 14¾” x 20¾” • sold

A handsome sampler with a strong and appealing Quaker aesthetic, this is signed, “Hannah Ann Smith her work in the year 1808.” She stitched her name in a bit of a run-on fashion and, while done in pale silk, it is quite legible. Hannah Ann worked three alphabets, the largest in the classic Roman block lettering favored by the instructresses who taught in Friends’ schools and who carried on their samplermaking traditions. The small pictorial motifs and pine trees are also found on Quaker samplers made in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It seems as if Miss Smith gained skill as she progressed from the top of the sampler downwards; the first alphabet is less skillfully stitched than the next one, and so forth (note within the third alphabet that space was left between the V and W for the dip of the J from line above). The horizontal band of carnations and small strawberries along with the blue sawtooth band were stitched with a fine competence. 

Hannah Ann stitched the initials ES and SS - those of her parents, Edward and Sarah – prominently on her sampler. Research has led us to know much about the family. Hannah Ann Smith was the daughter Edward Smith (born 1771), a prominent merchant and iron master of Philadelphia and his wife Sarah Maskell (born 1769). They became the parents of eight children, Hannah Ann was born circa 1801. This Smith family descended from English Quakers who came to Pennsylvania circa 1750 and the family became Presbyterian by the end of the 18th century. Hannah Ann married Dr. Jacob Thompson Sharp in 1830 and they had six children. This sampler descended in the family along with another one that was made a generation later and is signed by Cornelia Thompson of Philadelphia and dated 1840; this was no doubt a family member from the Thompson side of the family. 

The photo of reverse (shown below), taken prior to mounting, indicates that the silk used by Hannah Ann retains its original color and that the sampler has not faded discernably in these 200 years. The inscription was always as pale as it is now. The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and painted frame.

(photo of the reverse of the sampler)

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