Mary Antrim needlework sampler World Record price at Betty Ring collection auction

As anyone with an interest in collectibles will know, the forms that art can take are highly varied, through paintings, sculptures, installations, ceramics, and so on.

One area which has often been neglected in the past is that of embroidery and needlework samplers. But increasingly there are moves to rectify this. Most famously, there is the collection of the great scholar Betty Ring, whose collection went under the hammer at Sotheby's this week, led by a piece by Mary Antrim.

Important American Schoolgirl Embroideries: The Landmark Collection of Betty Ring consisted of 175 lots.

"Betty Ring was amongst the first serious scholars and collectors in our field who recognised the importance of American schoolgirl embroidery as a body of work," commented Nancy Druckman, Head of Sotheby's Folk Art department in New York.

Mary Antrim needlework sampler
Mary Antrim's needlework sampler

The most exciting piece was always likely to be an 1807 piece by one Mary Antrim of Burlington Country, NJ. A number of samplers made by girls from Burlington County are now regarded as important.

 Mary Antrim was the daughter of a weaver, John Antrim and this work, created using silk and painted paper on linen, was expected to be the top lot, with a listing of $80,000-120,000.

In the event, it sold for a record for a needlework sampler at auction - $1,070,500 to an American dealer. Several other lots broke into the six figure range, beating their top estimates in every case.

The second highest lot was a piece by Susannah Saunders of the Sarah Stivours School, Salem, Massachusetts, dated 1766 which sold to Stephen and Carol Huber. Indeed the rest of the top 10 sold to either the Hubers or collecting duo Morris and Amy Finkel.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock