Sara Steel

New Salem,
Massachusetts, circa 1780

sampler size: 7” x 7¾” • framed size: 8¾” x 9½”  • sold

The first needlework project made by most young girls would have been a simple marking sampler with the alphabet, sometimes exhibiting different versions of the letters, and perhaps an inscription. The makers were generally taught in informal settings and their samplers may not have been framed. There can be a simplicity to these samplers that we find very appealing. This delightful, little example is signed, “SARA STEEL OF NEW SALEM THE EIGHT AND TWENTIETH DAY OF FEBRUARY IS MY BETH DAY.” 

New Salem is located about 15 miles due east of Deerfield. It was settled in 1737 and named for Salem, the coastal town north of Boston. While we can’t pin down the year of Sara’s birth, the vital records of New Salem include her marriage intention to William Magoon in 1795 and their marriage in 1800. Sara was living in New Salem and William was from Ware, a nearby town. Other family records state that Sara was born in 1770. 

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a walnut frame. 

steel verso
photo of reverse



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