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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
Antiques Corner

A Schoolgirl's Sampler

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Question: This sampler was done in 1827 by 10-year-old Rachel Wilson (born Feb. 28, 1817; died April 14, 1865) in Chester County, Pa. It measures 10 inches by 17 inches and has been hand-sewn onto the backing of the frame. This sampler has been handed down in my family; my grandparents gave it to me a few years ago. What is its value?

Answer: American schoolgirls of the 18th and 19th centuries learned to do needlework by stitching letters, numerals and decorative motifs onto fabric, which they often signed and dated. This is classified as a marking sampler, a simple work that is limited to the alphabet, numerals and small motifs. Although this sampler lacks the visual appeal of strong graphics such as a large house, birds or flowers, it has a solid pedigree, hailing from Chester County, Pa., where many samplers were produced by girls at the prominent Westtown School. Samplers of this age, design and condition sell at auctions for $450 to $750. Expect to encounter prices of $1,200 to $2,500 at antiques shops and shows.

-- By Tom Hoepf, associate editor of Auction Central News

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