Rachel Saunders, Gloucester County,

Rachel Saunders, Gloucester County,

New Jersey, circa 1815

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sampler size: 10¼” x 8¾” • framed size: 12¼” x 10¾” • sold

Rachel Saunders’s sampler is notably Quaker in its modesty, and yet displays her strength with a needle. Rows of alphabets include a larger, eyelet-stitched version, and four of the six pictorial elements along the bottom are queen’s-stitched. Underneath these skillfully worked features, and in Quaker wording, Rachel Saunders inscribed her sampler “Rachel Saunders was born 1st mo[nth] 31st 1803.”

She was born as the fourth of nine children to James Saunders (1770-1840) and Sarah Richards (1778-1829) in Woodbury, Gloucester County, New Jersey, and Meeting records imply that the family also had ties to Friends in Union County. In 1847, at the age of 44, Rachel married James Sproat Spencer (1782-1874), aged 65, in Philadelphia as his second wife. The couple remained in Philadelphia, and records indicate that they never had children. Rachel died when she was 65 and she is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, now a landmark burial grounds in Philadelphia, along the Schuylkill River.

This sampler, worked in silk and linen on linen, remains in excellent condition. Conservation mounted, it is now in a molded and veneered frame with a gold inner edge.

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