Needlework Sampler
Mary E. Ward (1840?-?)
Charleston, South Carolina
Silk and wool
Mid-19th Century
19.75” W x 17” H – overall

Boldly captioned: “Worked by Mary E. Ward at the Academy of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Charleston, SC”, the maker left no doubt as to her authorship and school association. While genealogy records record at least five Mary Wards during the relevant time period making it difficult to make a positive identification, the history of the Academy is well documented. . Founded in 1829, by 1842 the sisters were operating an orphanage, and academy for girls from middle class homes, and a school for free Black children of Charleston. In addition to academic subjects, the academy also offered instruction in “Instrumental and Vocal Music, Drawing, Painting and Wax Work, Plain and Ornamental Neele-Work, Lace Work, Etc. “

Examples of Charleston needlework are rare, especially those identifying the girl’s school.

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Christopher H. Jones Antiques

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