American Sampler by Susan Meader, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1818

The coastal Massachusetts town of New Bedford is nestled into Buzzard’s Bay, 50 miles south of Boston and was one of the most important whaling communities of the early 19th century. New Bedford was established in 1787; prior to this it was a part of the town of Dartmouth. The highly lucrative whaling industry allowed New Bedford, along with its neighbor Nantucket, to enjoy considerable success.  An early geographical gazetteer of New England indicated that New Bedford was “laid out into beautiful streets, which contain many costly and superb dwelling,” and further indicated that “the inhabitants of this town have manifested a commendable liberality in providing the means of education.”

New Bedfordand Nantucket each supported a substantial Quaker population. Within this area lived the family of Capt. William Meader and his wife Phebe Brightman Tripp Meader. When still a teenager and living in Nantucket, William Meader, in 1765, made a whaleship model which is in the collection of the Nantucket Historical Society and acknowledged to be the oldest existing American whaleship model (see The Decorative Arts and Crafts of Nantucket by Charles H. Carpenter Jr. and Mary Grace Carpenter, pages 216 and 217, figure 207). Capt. William Meader removed from Nantucket to New Bedford where he married in 1789 and where his youngest child, Susan Meader, was born.

When she was twelve years old, Susan worked this excellent sampler, one of a significant group of New Bedford samplers made between 1817 and 1835 that evidence strong Quaker characteristics. Interestingly, these needleworkers generally included in their inscriptions the fact that the samplers were “performed by” their makers. Another strikingly similar New Bedford sampler was made by Martha Rogers in 1819 and is published as figure 24 in American Needlework Treasures by Betty Ring.

In 1827, Susan Meader married Edward Colesworthy Barnard, of Nantucket and they became the parents of two daughters. The family removed to Buffalo, where Susan died in 1843.

Her sampler was worked in silk on fine linen gauze and is in excellent condition, conservation mounted into its original mahogany frame.

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Dealer M. Finkel & Daughter
Date: 1818
Origin New Bedford, Massachusetts
Artist/Maker Susan Meader
Measurements sampler size: 17” x 19½” • framed size: 19¾” x 22”
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Price $7500
Contact Amy Finkel, 215-627-7797 or

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