Over the last 20 years, we’ve appraised a lot of antique samplers on Antiques Roadshow. The best ones are in great condition with highly decorative needlework depicting houses, people, animals, flowers, and more. Earlier dates, especially before 1820, usually increase the price a bit as well. The best samplers were usually done under the tutelage of an accomplished teacher. Because of this, certain styles or “schools” of samplers exist for differing geographic regions.
What can we say about the Floyd County, Virginia sampler illustrated here? First, it doesn’t fit any of the categories listed above. It is in good, not great condition, and shows some fading. It mainly shows two alphabets (one set upper case the other lower case) and a row of numbers. Also included are several religious passages and phrases. The decorative elements consist of two simple lines of flowers and leaves, an urn with a single flower, and a stitched bible surrounded by flowers. The sampler is also dated “September, 1848”, which is very late for most serious collectors.
Even though the sampler does not fit all of the prerequisites for being one of the “best” samplers, for me though the simplicity of this object makes it very appealing. Plus, in this case, the rarity factor tops all of the other considerations. Except for the past six years, I lived my whole life in southwestern Virginia and I have never seen a Floyd County sampler. Floyd has always been a rural area favored by those who like living outside of the mainstream. Founded in 1831, Floyd has always had a small population and because of this, there is simply not a lot of documented material culture from the nineteenth century. This rarity-value relationship will also be complemented by the fact that folks in Floyd County are very interested in bringing local objects home.
We just received this sampler from the Roanoke estate of Gene Gerryberry, a former customer and inveterate collector of Americana. The sampler will be offered at Freeman’s in their Americana Auction on November 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more postings about the wonderful collection!