Grace Amelia Cunningham,
Brooklyn, New York, 1812
With its many carefully stitched alphabets and excellent and unusual verse, we find this sampler to be highly appealing. It is signed, “Grace Amelia Cunningham / Brooklyn October 1812,” with the word Brooklyn repeated at the end of the largest alphabet. Diminutive birds, stylized baskets of fruit and flowers in urns provide decorative embellishments. The eyelet-stitched alphabet, tightly worked row of strawberries and other narrow horizontal bands add further to the appeal of this engaging sampler.
The verse is positively exceptional; we have not come across this previously. It reads, “The charms of sweet music no pencil can paint / They calm the rude savage enliven the saint / Make brighter our pleasures more joyous our joy / With raptures we feel yet those raptures ne'er cloy.” We found that it was published in The Hive: Or a Collection of Thought on Civil, Moral, Sentimental and Religious Subjects: Selected from the Writings of Near One Hundred of the Best Authors of Different Nations; but Chiefly from the English Writers. Intended as a Repository of Sententious, Ingenious, and Pertinent Sayings, in Verse and Prose to Which Youth may have recourse upon any particular Topic: and by which they may be taught to think justly, write correctly and elegantly, and speak with propriety, Hartford: Printed for and Sold by Oliver D. Cooks, 1803, Lincoln & Gleason, Printers.
Research into the identity of the samplermaker points to specifics about the Cunningham family. Grace Amelia Cunningham was born in 1805, the daughter of William Cunningham, Sr., Esq. who was born in Scotland in 1753. He emigrated at age 18 and lived in Brooklyn much of his adult life. His wife was Helen (Stuart Harris) Cunningham. Grace died at age 16 years, 9 months on March 29, 1821, in Brooklyn. Notice of her death was published in the New York Evening Post. Her gravestone is in Green-Wood Cemetery, the historic Brooklyn burying ground, along with family members.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled cherry frame with a black bead.
photo of reverse