FINE AND RARE SILK EMBROIDERED COAT OF ARMS OF THE BARRETT AND GERRISH FAMILIES, ELIZABETH BARRETT, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, CIRCA 1767
- wool, silk
The earliest known and only dated example is the canvaswork arms of Ingersol, worked by Ann Ingersol (b. 1737) of Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1758.
2. Probably the first to be illustrated were the arms of Robert Hill Ives, worked by his sister Rebecca Ives (1746-1823), depicted in pl . CXXV, opposite p. 403 in Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnston Coe, American Samplers, published by the Colonial Dames of America in 1921. The book's final chapter is an essay entitled Embroidered Heraldry by Bolton, whose husband was the aforementioned Charles Knowles Bolton.
3. The Cobb arms by Sally Cobb (1744-1816) of Taunton, Massachusetts, worked with silk and metallic threads on black silk. Illustrated in Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, vol. I, p. 264.
4. A nearly identical Cobb arms by a cousin of Sally Cobb, now in the collection of the Colonel Black House, Ellsworth, Maine.
5. Anonymous and unidentified arms worked with silk and metallic threads on black silk, Illustrated in Israel Sack Inc., Brochure No. 22, November 1, 1972.
6. Anonymous arms of Bradford, worked with silk and metallic threads on black silk. Christie's, New York, January 15, 1999, lot 210.
7. Anonymous arms said to be from the Russell family of Salem, Massachusetts, silk and metallic threads on black silk. Northeast Auctions, November 2, 2003, lot 1591. Differing expert opinion holds that this is actually the arms of Vassel probably impaling Oliver. See Heraldic Journal Vol. II, 1866, pp. 16-18.
An unknown Boston schoolmistress evidently introduced the fashion for worked coats of arms about 1740, and they appear to have had no foreign prototypes, nor did they occur elsewhere in the Colonies. English schoolgirls are known to have made filigree coats of arms in both rectangular and lozenge shapes during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as did Boston girls. Possibly the knowledge of arms in filigree inspired a Boston teacher to offer instruction in heraldic needlework for domestic decoration . Between the years 1755 and 1774, a number of Boston women advertised instruction in working coats of arms, and Boston's most impressive arms embroidery continued until about 1796. Thereafter, a fashion arose for somewhat smaller coats of arms in the Neoclassical taste, and arms were worked on silk at a number of New England schools until about 1820.