Nabby Briggs,

Nabby Briggs,

Middleborough, Plymouth County,
Massachusetts, circa 1794/95

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sampler size: 16¼” x 12½” • framed size: 19¾” x 16” • price: $8600

This praiseworthy sampler has an unusual aesthetic, both fine and folky at the same time. The beautifully rendered pale blue house is depicted in three-quarter view with solidly stitched tall windows and doorways. It sits on an unusual lawn, formed of large sawtooth elements with assorted plants, flowers, birds and a tall, smiling, prancing, black animal. Two large trees, one with a splendid oversized bird, further embellish the scene. Various delicate flowering vines provide further decoration to the space. Nabby stitched some areas of the filled-in background, particularly in the alphabet, creating an excellent texture.

The sampler is signed, “Nabby Brigg’s Sampler wrought in the / sixteenth year of her age. She was born 1779.”  Nabby – the oft-used early nickname for Abigail – was born October 15, 1779, in Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts located between Plymouth and Taunton. She was the daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Briggs (1731-1808) and Elizabeth (Smith) Briggs, who were married in 1760 in Bristol County, Massachusetts and had nine children. Nabby was their youngest.

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (April 1971) published an extensive article about the Briggs family of Massachusetts, documenting their history in Massachusetts from the 17th century forth. This was a prominent family and the article informs us about all the generations and any families, including that of Ebenezer Briggs, who was referred to as both a Reverend and a cooper.

Nabby married Benjamin Chace (1773-1856) in 1797 in Middleton, Newport County, Rhode Island, as documented by the Rhode Island Vital Records. They lived in Newport had at least one child. She died in 1840.

Along with the wonderful pictorial scene and alphabets Nabby stitched two quotations, each of them dealing with the subject of the swift passage of time. Overall this is a very appealing sampler.

Worked in silk on linen, it is in excellent condition, and has been conservation mounted into a fine, inlaid frame. 

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