1830s Esther Irving’s Adam & Eve sampler with flowers and red house

8-year-old Esther Irving stitched her sampler in the 1830s but sometime later picked out the stitches of the last number in order to disguise her age! This practice led to the term “vanity samplers.” The motifs and bright colors lead me to think this is an American sampler; there’s Adam and Eve with the snake (Eve is on the left, where the snake’s head is), baskets and bowls of fruit and flowers, butterflies and exuberantly colorful red-white-and-blue birds. The thread is mostly fine wool with some silk thread accents.

The verse is worked over a single thread (all the rest is cross stitches over 2) and reads ” How short is life how sure is death, Our days, alas, how few. This mortal life is but a breath, tis like the morning dew. Had we ten thousand worlds to give, one hour we could not buy. The moment we begin to live we then begin to die.” Definitely a stark contrast to the rest of the sampler!

The linen has darkened to a lovely golden brown and is still supple; there’s very little thread loss except for in the outline of the house, the blue and white checkered basket and in the right side border where there are small tears. At some the sampler was removed from its original wooden board and the edges were glued to a backing cardboard; fortunately the glue is only in spots along the edges and the body of the sampler is unattached.

Esther’s sampler measures 19″ square. It is unframed and will be shipped flat with a protective film wrap. This item will require a signature on delivery. SOLD