This piece is only about 10" wide, much smaller than our large piece from last year. The workmanship is quite good for the scale, as you can tell from the detail photos. And it's signed, by an Anna Gill, and dated 1804. This is important because, like to many pieces that I have blogged about in these pages, there is a good story behind this piece that we would not know if it wasn't signed.
According to the dealer offering this sampler, Anna Gill lived in Pleasant Valley, New York and was eleven years old when she did this piece. Her mother, Wilhemina Anthony Gill, had a private nurse from childhood, a slave purchased in 1761 and named Dina. During the American Revolution, when the British troops invaded the Hudson Valley and destroyed numerous homes (including nearly all of Kingston, NY), Dina stayed behind after the family fled into the woods, as she was determined to protect the family home. The story goes that when she encountered the British troops she offered them a meal in return for sparing the house. Surprisingly, they agreed, but burned the mill.
Records indicate that when Dina died in 1823 she was a free person. The Gill family had such respect and gratitude for her that they arranged to have her buried in the family plot in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. Anna, the maker of this sampler, died unmarried in 1844 and is buried in the same plot.
These map samplers were meant to demonstrate a schoolgirl's knowledge of world geography. It just seemed fascinating to me that behind this small demonstration of one's awareness of the world there was a family history that stood squarely at the intersection of Africa, Europe, and North America. Some things can't be taught in school.