Sampler by Elizabeth Cotton
Origin: America, New England, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Silk and linen embroidery threads on a plain-weave linen ground of 41 x 43 threads per inch
(Three bands worked in linen threads (whitework).)
Acquired by Bargain/Sale from Ms. Betty Skarohlid.
Acc. No. 1994-81
This is a rectangular needlework band sampler worked in shades of blue, green, cream, and beige silk and white linen embroidery threads on a plain-weave linen ground. The sampler has selvages at top and bottom and is hemmed at sides with a 1/8" rolled hem. The sampler consists of 37 bands or rows of patterns or stitches. Band 1: Row of marking stitch in green. Band 2: Three staggered rows of boxes in cream and blue. Band 3: Arcaded band in green, blue, and cream. Band 4: Tiny lozenge pattern in cream. Band 5: Double larger arcaded band in green, blue, and cream. Band 6: Reversible pattern of three units of long arm cross followed by parallel lines of double running in blue. Band 7: Zigzag "V" pattern in cream and blue. Band 8: Identical pattern to Band 6. Band 9: Double arcaded pattern in blue, green, and cream. At right side of band, running vertically, are the initials EC worked in blue square eyelets. Band 10: Single row of cream marking cross. Band 11: Architectural band in cream. Band 12: Identical pattern to Band 10 in blue. Band 13: Arcaded band in blue, cream, and green. Band 14: Identical to Band 10 in cream. Band 15: Double running pattern with floral design in blue. Band 16: Identical pattern to Band 10. Band 17: Arcaded pattern in green, cream, brown-beige, and blue. Band 18: Identical pattern to Band 6. Band 19: Alphabet in upper case and lower case block worked in cream, blue, and green, "A b c D E F G H I K L M N O P q R". Band 20: Identical pattern to Band 6 in green. Band 21: Alphabet in upper case and lower case block letter style worked in cream and blue, "S T V W X Y Z" "1698" "E C". Band 22: Row of square eyelet in beige. Band 23: Alphabet in upper case Roman and lower case black letter style worked in cream, green, blue, and beige, "A B C D E F G H I K L M". Band 24: Identical pattern to Band 22. Band 25: Alphabet in upper case Roman and lower case black letter styles worked in beige, cream, green, and blue, "N O P q R S T V W X Y". Band 26: Identical pattern to Band 6 in cream. Band 27: White work geometric pattern in linen thread. Band 28: Four-sided stitch in linen thread. Band 29: Satin stitch border in linen thread. Band 30: "ELIZABeTH CoTTon". Band 31: Identical pattern to Band 6 in green. Band 32: "IS MY NAMe AND WITH". Band 33: Identical pattern to Band 6 in green. Band 34: "MY NeeDLE I MADe THe". Band 35: Identical pattern to Band 6 in green. Band 36: "SAMe". Band 37: Partial band identical pattern to Band 6.
Stitches: hem, marking cross(over 3 threads)(marking cross/4-sided, upright marking cross), cross, square eyelet, counted satin, double running, long arm cross, stem, and knotted detached buttonhole.
Ground: 43 warp threads per inch x 41 weft threads per inch.
Label:Elizabeth Cotton's 1699 sampler is one of a very prestigious but small group of identified seventeenth-century American samplers. These early American examples resemble English schoolgirl samplers in their general size, shape, format, and stitches. Called "band samplers" today, they were worked in orderly rows, or bands, of stitches and patterns one below the other down a narrow length of fine linen. They were embroidered in a combination of reversible and non-reversible stitches so that the outlines of the patterns were seen on both the fronts and back of the samplers.
The maker of this sampler was Elizabeth Cotton, possibly the Elizabeth who was the daughter of William and Abigail Cotton of Portsmouth, present-day New Hampshire. Elizabeth's father, a farmer and gentleman, belonged to a social and economic level that could afford to educate their daughters at schools where sampler making took place.
Provenance:On March 16, 1994, the former owner informed CWF curator that the sampler was purchased by her sister in 1964/65 in San Diego, CA, when her sister purchased the contents of a collector's apartment. The former owner took the sampler to the Boston Museum of Fine Art about "20 years ago." From there they were "directed across town" to a "gentleman who had Cotton papers." He thought that the sampler was made by John Cotton's granddaughter. John's first wife was named Elizabeth.
History of sampler maker:
Elizabeth Cotton is possibly the Elizabeth Cotton who was the daughter of William Cotton and Abigail (?) Pickering of Portsmouth. Elizabeth was the third child of at least seven. The first child, William, died 28 Feb. 1717/18 at the age of 38, so he was born in 1680. The second eldest was named John. He was not mentioned in his father's will so he probably died in infancy or childhood. The first seven children are listed as being baptised August 19, 1696. Elizabeth's father, William, was a farmer, inn holder, and gentleman. He was a jury member in 1684, 1685, 1692, 1694, 1699; a member of the grand jury; a selectman from 1697-1701 and again in 1717; and a representative in 1702, 1705, and 1701. In 1732/33, William was about 79 years old. In his 1733 will he bequeathed to Elizabeth: "50 pounds", "8 bushels of aples yearely", "a cow", and "her seat in the meating house." Elizabeth married William Fernald, a shipwright, in Kittery, July 31, 1707. Elizabeth died in 1761.
Inscription(s):Band 9: "EC"
Band 21: "1698" "E C"
Bands 30, 32, 34, 36 : "ELIZABeTH CoTTon/ IS MY NAMe AND WITH/ "MY NeeDLE I MADe THe/ "SAMe".