Pocketbook, Irish stitch, with letters
Origin: America, Connecticut, Litchfield
Wool Irish stitch needlework on linen canvas; lined with blue tabby cotton.
Gift of Mrs. Cora Ginsburg
Acc. No. 1991-492
Folding pocketbook of wool Irish stitch in zig-zag design on linen canvas, predominantly in yellows, red-orange, greens and purples. Binding of red wool twill tape. Pocketbook opens to reveal two equal gusseted sections, lined with blue tabby cotton. Pocketbook contains letters, newspaper clippings, and poems dating from 1830-1856. Two paper notes sewn to inside of pocketbook read "Mrs. J. H. Clarke. The worsted, and the canvass, and lining were spun, woven, and colored, by my mother, and her mother." "Wrought by my Mother during her school days at Litchfield CT. in 1814 or 15, as a gift to her father- Asahel I(J?) Bradley- of Stockbridge Mass."
Label:According to the family history stitched to the inside of this folding pocketbook, a schoolgirl attending classes in Litchfield, Connecticut, made this pocketbook for her father, Asahel Bradley of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both Amanda and Abigail Bradley of Stockbridge are listed as students there in 1814. The Litchfield Female Academy, founded in 1792, taught girls from around the country. The curriculum included needlework and watercolor painting, as well as academic subjects.
Mr. Bradley must have cherished the pocketbook for many years. It is stuffed with letters, mementos, newspaper clippings, and poetry dating from 1830 to 1856. Several of the letters refer to the death of Bradley's two young grandsons in 1832.
The pocketbook is embellished with hand-done wool needlework covering a linen canvas ground. Called in the period "Irish stitch," the needlework involved vertical stitches on the surface of the canvas, stepping over three or four squares of the canvas at a time, often in a zig-zag pattern. Today the work is sometimes called "Florentine, bargello, or flame stitch."
Provenance:Said to have been made by a Litchfield, Connecticut, schoolgirl in 1814/1815 for her father, Asahel Bradley, Stockbridge, Mass. The names mentioned in the letters include A. B. Hyde, (Beckett, Mass.); Mrs. Alley Hyde; Julia Hyde, Bolton, Con.; Sarah Williams; Mary Bradley Farrar; and Asahel Bradley, Stockbridge, Mass.