Peggy Silver,

Peggy Silver,

Salem, Massachusetts, 1797

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sampler size: 21¾" x 20½" • framed size: 26¼" x 25" • price: sold

Samplers featuring long, lustrous silk stitches in their pictorial registers were made in and around Boston, Massachusetts for many decades, as this unusual technique was favored by teachers in this area;  these samplers are among the most sought after of all American schoolgirl needlework. One small but highly significant group, comprised of only four samplers, was made by girls from Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts during the late 18th and very early 19th centuries. They are large samplers that all feature outstanding wide borders worked in the classic long, crinkled silk stitches framing large interiors of alphabets, verse and other lettering.

Peggy Silver, age ten and from an early Massachusetts family, worked this praiseworthy sampler in 1797. It is the earliest one of the group, a very beautiful sampler presenting excellent composition and execution. The three other known samplers were made by Betsey Daniels, dated 1800, in the Danvers Historical Society (published in Girlhood Embroidery American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850 by Betty Ring, vol. I, figure 122), Hannah Silver, Peggy’s sister, in 1801, currently in a private collection, and Elizabeth Briggs dated 1806 and in the Peabody Essex Museum (published in Painted with Threads: The Art of American Embroidery by Paula Bradstreet Richter, figure 28). Peggy’s sampler is the only 18th century one in this group. The similarities between these four samplers are interesting to note, as are the minor changes that developed over the nine years.

Peggy Silver was born October 19, 1787, the eldest of five children of William and Jemima (Tewksbury) Silver of Salem. The Silver family descended from Thomas Silver (1622-1682) who was born in Newbury, Berkshire, England and emigrated in America in 1737, settling in Newbury, Massachusetts – the town named for the same in England. In 1810, Peggy married Nathan Poor (1786-1842), of nearby Danvers, and they had seven children, born between 1810 and 1822. Peggy died on November 18, 1824, at age 37. She is buried along with family members in Monumental Cemetery, an historic cemetery in Peabody, Massachusetts.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a fine mahogany frame with a stepped outer bead.

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