Sally Ross,

Sally Ross,

Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts, 1809

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Sampler size: 16½” x 17¾” • Framed size: 19¾” x 21¼” • Price: sold

Sally Ross’s highly appealing sampler epitomizes the pictorial spirit and free form of the best of American samplermaking of the early 19th century - her leafy tree, flowers, tree, animated birds and vines have a life of their own and transform the sampler into a visual delight. The wonderful checkerboard baskets and tightly worked geometric border provide an excellent counterpoint to the organic quality of the pictorial images.

Specific characteristics, including the unusual, expanded tessellated upper case W used in the word “Wrought”, indicate that the sampler was made on the North Shore of Essex County, Massachusetts. The samplermaker, Sally Ross, was born on December 27, 1798 to Jeremiah Ross (1767-1834) and Hannah (Wilcomb) Ross (1771-1852) of Ipswich. The Ross family was in Ipswich by the very early 18th century and the Wilcomb family was one the earliest families, settling Ipswich in the mid-17th century. According to Architecture in Colonial Massachusetts, Jeremiah Ross (1767-1834) acquired a hundred-year-old property in 1809 - the same year that Sally made this sampler - and turned it into an inn, which was still known as the Ross Tavern by locals through 1905. The Ross Tavern was at the southeast corner of the Choate Bridge and serviced a bustling stagecoach line.

In 1823, Sally married John Holmes, of Allentown, New Hampshire. We find her in the 1850 census, living with her mother in Ipswich. She died in 1869, similarly, in Ipswich. The Ipswich Vital Records and other sources publish much information about the family.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition, with some very minor toning to the linen. It has been conservation mounted into a figured maple, beveled frame with a black bead.


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