1787 Debbe Poor Sampler, Andover, Massachusetts

Value (2011) | $40,000 Insurance
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GUEST:
I'm so thrilled to have a piece that was made by my great-great-grandmother.

APPRAISER:
So this has always been in your family and it's always been something that you've treasured?

GUEST:
Yes. My grandmother had it, and I received it upon her death.

APPRAISER:
So how have you lived with it?

GUEST:
It's always been on display in my living room.

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh.

GUEST:
I put nonglare glass on it when I got it.

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh.

GUEST:
And I didn't realize that it should have a spacer of some kind between the fabric and that. I hope that you'll tell me what I can do with it to keep it well.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, nonglare glass is... it's neutral, it's not good or bad.

GUEST:
Mmm.

APPRAISER:
It makes it a little harder to see and it keeps some of the light out, so that's a positive, but by museum standards, it's not really important.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
And you're absolutely right that we like these to be on a spacer. But you did do something wonderful. When we typically see needle works, they're completely encased in a frame and we rarely get to look at the back. And one of the things about looking at the back is you get to see the colors unfaded.

GUEST:
Oh, yes.

APPRAISER:
And you see how strong they are here, and here?

GUEST:
Yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
They're just fabulous, and that's what we really look for.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
Now, of course, when this was done, it was not framed like this, and it's not easy to see and I'm not going to pull it out of the frame, but you can see that there's no fabric around the edge. So all the fabric stops right in here, and it's all been glued in place, which we really don't like.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
So what we'd like to do today is to, what they say, float it and take it off the frame so it doesn't stretch it and let it float. And then you put it under a mat so that it's spaced

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
and that it doesn't then touch the glass. We don't like it forced up against the glass.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
So we have some guidance now about how you want to reframe it.

GUEST:
Yes, I do, thank you.

APPRAISER:
First off, it's very easy. We can read "Debbie Poor," her name, and it says, "Andover in the county of Essex, 1787," and then we have your standard letters and numbers, a verse, which is very common, but these trees, really delicate work, some fabulous little animals and birds... It's a linen ground. And usually they're silk threads, and I think that's the case here. It's just extraordinary survival. We have only this one small hole up in here, and otherwise it's in extraordinary condition. What's fascinating is this highly rectangular, long and tall one is actually a kind of style from 50 years earlier.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
It would date from, say, the 1720s or '30s in Boston, in the earlier schools. So it's a little bit out of sync with its time. By the Federal era, the shape is more standardized, it's closer to square, the border is more standardized, it's more symmetrical. This is a freehand border. If you look at the earlier ones, there's no border. So what she's done is add this border, just more up to date, and at the same time, it's a freehand border, which is not what you'd expect. So it's a really fascinating piece. I think it opens up new avenues for scholars and collectors alike. We just haven't seen anything like this before.

GUEST:
Oh my!

APPRAISER:
I have absolutely no problem that you should put an insurance estimate on this of at least $40,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my gracious. Oh, goodness. Oh, I had no idea. Well, I'm thrilled. I thank you so much. I'm so glad.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
Baltimore, MD
Appraised value (2011)
$40,000 Insurance
Event
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
Period
18th Century
Form
Sampler
Material
Linen, Silk

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