American Sampler by Betsy Farnum Andover, Essex Co., Massachusetts, 1800

Betsy Farnum’s praiseworthy sampler is steeped in the tradition of the outstanding samplers made in eastern Massachusetts in the mid to late 18th century. The pictorial register depicts an endearing scene – likely a mother and daughter exchanging flower branches near a fruit tree, with a small house, and several birds looking on. The deep arcades of the border are filled with a wonderful assortment of flowers on leafy stems and a deep green sawtooth framework surrounds the center. The alphabets are complete, with some letters worked in beige.

Betsy Farnum was born on December 10, 1787 to Mary (Frye, 1758-1835) and John Farnum Jr. (1740-1822), one of their twelve children. John Farnum Jr., Esq. was a 1761 Harvard College graduate, living in Andover and nearby Chelmsford. He was involved in the settlement of Maugerville, New Brunswick, Canada before the American Revolution. Representing Andover at the Constitutional Convention in 1779 and serving as a local Justice of the Peace, John was active in local politics. This information and more found in The New England Descendants of the Immigrant Ralph Farnum of Rochester, Kent County, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts (Portsmouth: Russel C Farnham). The family descended from Ralph Farnham (1633-1691) who emigrated from Rochester, Kent, England to Boston at the age of two. He ultimately settled in Andover, Massachusetts, where the family remained.

Betsy remained single and, according to Danvers, Massachusetts death records, died on May 7, 1837, aged 49.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. All of the letters are complete, some are worked in a beige color similar to the color of the linen ground. It has been conservation mounted and is in a mahogany frame with a gold leaf bead.

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Dealer M. Finkel & Daughter
Date: 1800
Origin Andover, Essex Co., Massachusetts
Artist/Maker Betsy Farnum
Measurements sampler size: 17” x 16½” • frame size: 21½” x 21”
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Price $8800
Contact Amy Finkel, 215-627-7797 or

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