Elizabeth Seal, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1814
sampler size: 15¾” x 13” • framed size: 19¾” x 17”
This handsome, very finely worked sampler was made in 1814 by Elizabeth Seal of New Garden, Chester County, Pennsylvania. She was born in 1798 to Benjamin and Phebe (Swayne) Seal as the fifth of their six children. Benjamin belonged to many Quaker Meetings, which brought him to Kennett (now Kennett Square) where he wed Phebe Swayne. Interesting to note, Kennett Square is known as the mushroom capital of the world, and this trade was begun in 1885 when William Swayne, a descendent of Phebe’s cousin and another member of the town’s prominent family, imported mushrooms from Europe to cultivate under his flower beds.
Phebe and Benjamin removed to New Garden, adjacent to Kennett, in 1784 with their twin boys. Benjamin was a blacksmith, who by 1800 was appraised for 140 acres of land with a log house and barn, two horses and a cow. The couple had four more children, including Elizabeth, our samplermaker, who married Joseph Thompson in 1818 at New Garden Meeting. Elizabeth and Joseph had 8 children, and Elizabeth died in 1870.
Elizabeth was 16 when she completed this sampler. Wonderfully delicate, she stitched many flowers in decorative bands, motifs of potted baskets and in a vine surrounding her inscription. The vine wreath is a classic Quaker emblem, notably found on samplers from Westtown School. The large open flowers at the top of the wreath are very often found on samplers from Chester County, and the potted flowers on either side are again Quaker in their arrangement with the pendant drops. To go along with the flower theme, Elizabeth makes reference in the two lines at the top “Give to God the flower of thy youth / Take for thy guide the holy word of truth.”
Worked in silk on fine gauze linen, Miss Seal’s sampler is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and in a maple frame with a gold liner.