Phebe Ellis, Chesterfield School,

Phebe Ellis, Chesterfield School,

Crosswicks, Burlington County,
New Jersey, circa 1815

Mouse over image to enlarge

sampler size: 10½” x 14¼” • framed size: 15¼” x 19” • sold

We are pleased to offer this praiseworthy sampler, a new discovery and part of the highly regarded group of Quaker samplers of Burlington County, New Jersey. Worked by Phebe Ellis, it is strikingly similar to the sampler made by Mary G. Taylor in 1812, naming Chesterfield School and published as figure 90 in Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework 1726-1860 (Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton, New Jersey, 2014). The description of the Taylor sampler reads, in part, that it features, “a stepped lawn dotted with animals and floral motifs, as well as pine trees lining the steps. Taking center stage is a two-story building with a single entrance.” Both samplermakers also included Quaker medallion motifs and baskets of fruit. Phebe framed her composition with a deep blue, narrow, leafy inner border and an excellent wide outer border of queen’s-stitched strawberries with a pair of birds facing each other at the center of the top.

Phebe was born December 11, 1799, the fourth of nine children of Samuel and Elizabeth (Henry) Ellis, member of the Upper Springfield Friends Meeting. On her 24th birthday, December 11, 1823, Phebe married a farmer, John Brown (1798-1882) and they had at least two children. Phebe remained a Friend throughout her life and died on May 24, 1866, according to Quaker records.

Interestingly, Mary G. Taylor, whose sampler is much like Phebe’s, went on to teach in Burlington County; samplers worked under her instruction were made between 1820 and 1830 and they share many specific characteristics with those made at Chesterfield School by Mary and Phebe; several include Ms. Taylor’s initials.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition; a photo of the reverse of the sampler taken prior to mounting is below. It has now been conservation mounted and is in a 19th century gold leaf frame.

(image of the reverse)

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