Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sampler Madness

Our niece gave us a framed needlework sampler for our cabin in Ohio. It wasn't exactly a gift, just something she couldn't use and thought we'd like. Wanting to keep the cabin spare and bare, I donated it to a silent auction fundraiser back home in Maryland, estimating its value at $150.00.

A few days before the June 6th auction, I typed "sampler" in my browser window on a whim and was amazed to discover that 19th century samplers were coveted by collectors of antique needlework and fetched prices ranging from $90.00 to $38,000.00. Our sampler was "wrought" in 1836 by Martha Southwick of Dublin, NH, when she was 13 years old. I quickly withdrew our donation from the auction so that we could have it appraised. I sent a few inquiries to online appraisers. This week, I learned from a 1982 New York Times article that our sampler, part of a estate of a serious collector, was valued at $4500.00 over 25 years ago.

"Visions of sugarplums danced in our heads."

Skepticism soon began gnawing away at my euphoria. Yesterday, I typed “Martha Southwick sampler” in my browser window. A picture of “our” sampler came up as an art print or poster available from 35 online dealers. Next, I visited a Southwick genealogy site and found two messages addressed to Martha's descendants, posted in 2001. One was from a woman interested in selling her art print and the other was from a man who had an actual sampler. He thought he might have the original. Silly man.

By now, we had come to the sad realization that we most certainly did NOT have the original either, but I hoped that what we had was at least a reproduction. However, no Martha Southwick sampler showed up on the many websites that sell sampler reproduction kits. Phil was pretty sure that we had an art print. By 9:30 last night, I could stand the suspense no longer. We gingerly peeled back the paper sealing the frame so as not to damage the hoped-for cloth, and found that what we have is--TA-DA-- an art print. It’s a very good print, because it appeared like real cloth and yarn when viewed through the glass.

I think we’ll hang our sampler in the cabin after all.


  1. I'm so glad you left a comment on my blog because now I have found yours....just started reading and am loving it!

  2. Oh boy, that was a lot of work. i guess it was meant to be in your cabin after all!

  3. Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. We're practically neighbors, you know.

    Great story about the sampler. Funny how one thing leads to another. From something you really didn't want, to the excitement of a possible treasure, back to square one with a new appreciation.

    Happy day to you!

  4. You have to keep it in your cabin now, after all the research. It will be a great conversation piece. :)

    Thanks for your comment at my blog. I am glad you stopped in and that now I have discovered your blogs. I will be visiting you more often now.

    It is hard when you have a parent with memory problems and confusion, but you just take it one day at a time and cherish the good moments, eh?

    I am sorry for the loss of your Mother. I am glad that you were there for her all of those years. That is a very special gift from a daughter to a Mother.


  5. Wow, reading this was just like watching Antiques Roadshow--which is a fave of ours. I'm glad you did your research and didn't get carried away.

  6. What a treasure ! Thanks for sharing ! a

  7. I was just watching Antiques Roadshow the other night. I'm sort of ashamed to admit that that show makes me cry sometimes. Just watching those people go from "oh, I bought it for $.50 at the flea market" to "you're saying it's worth HOW MUCH??"

    That we could be so lucky, eh? Oh well, you're right--even if the print isn't worth much to the rest of the world, it still means something to you. And it's still pretty.

  8. Thank you for sharing your information. I just went from "oh my gosh I just bought a valuable piece of old art " to "fooled again!"
    I purchased a beautifully framed ...beautifully crafted "old" needle point for $10.00. I thought I should look it up on google. Turns out my eyes have deceived me yet again.

  9. I have the original Wrought by's not a print but it is all needle point..Alphabeta GA. Feb.16 2019..Wow as I look at the pic..AWsome...

  10. I have the original Wrought by's not a print but it is all needle point..Alphabeta GA. Feb.16 2019..Wow as I look at the pic..AWsome...