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BETSY DAVIS 1797 - The Scarlet Letter
Reproduction Sampler Chart

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Made in Providence, Rhode Island, this sampler is a superb example of the work done at Miss Mary (Polly) Balch’s school, one of the most important female learning institutions in America at that time. Combining sophisticated architectural, landscape and figural motifs with elaborate and unusual stitch variations, including filled-in tapestry-like woven backgrounds, this group of samplers is one of the finest known in the American tradition.

Although the school is not named on the sampler, recurring themes in verse and design make the Balch School samplers quite easy to recognize. The “archway” motif was one of the most popular patterns at Miss Balch’s school and was incorporated into many samplers made by her pupils from 1785 until at least 1797 when Betsy Davis stitched hers. Architectural columns enclose the pictorial central reserve surrounded on three sides by the distinctive Balch School queen stitched flowers springing from two urns on the lower left and right sides.

The verse- one that appeared frequently on Balch samplers- is announced by trumpeting angels. A three storied house and several fashionably dressed figures, and animals, complete the five tiered scenes.

Stitches used in this sampler include cross (over one and two threads of linen), half cross, satin and stem filling, backstitch and queen stitched. Stitched on 25 count linen the finished reproduction will measure approximately 13″ x 15″, very close to the size of the original sampler which is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The project is recommended for more advanced needleworkers. The chart is printed in full color.

Copyright by The Scarlet Letter. Description thanks to Marsha


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