Sally F. Alden, Randolph, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, circa 1818
sampler size: 16¾” x 17¼” • framed size: 21¼” x 21¾”
A particular sampler from the Theodore Kapnek collection, made by Hannah T. Thayer of Randolph, Massachusetts in 1818, has long been one of our favorites. It features a densely worked pictorial scene with a house and figures on a lawn strewn with little white flowers, feathery trees and a stitched sky. The flowery borders are joined at the center of the bottom by a fat blue bow and the inscription is surrounded by a cartouche formed of little blossoms and buds worked along the top margin.
We were particularly pleased to have recently acquired another sampler that shares these specific, excellent characteristics – signed “Wrought by Sally F. Alden Randolph.” This, too, is a praiseworthy pictorial sampler and Sally and Hannah would have learned their skills from the same teacher. The Thayer sampler is published in A Gallery of American Samplers: The Theodore H. Kapnek Collection by Glee F. Krueger (E P Dutton, New York 1978), figures 74 and 74a.
The maker of our sampler, Sally French Alden, was born February 23, 1805, the tenth of twelve children of Silas Alden (1766-1845) and Polly (French) Alden (1765-1810) of Randolph, a small town about 16 miles south of Boston. Quite significantly, the Alden family descended from John Alden (1599-1687) and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden (1598-1688) who arrived on the Mayflower. John was a signer of the Mayflower Compact in 1620. He became a prominent citizen of Plymouth Colony, serving as deputy governor for two years and jurist on a witch trial. Our samplermaker was born five generations later and the family belonged to the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants; Sally’s sampler was in the Society’s collection for many years.
Sally’s mother was also from a prominent and early family. The French family in Massachusetts began with John French (1612-1692) who was born in England and sailed for Massachusetts; by 1639/1640 he had a land grant in what is now Braintree. Sally remained single and died on July 14, 1876; she is buried in Central Cemetery in Randolph.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a cherry frame with a maple bead.