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Man's Pocketbook
1771
Original Owner:Originally owned by Ebenezer Punderson , American, 1735 - 1809
Embroiderer:Attributed to Prudence Geer , American, 1735 - 1822
Hand-stitched wool and metallic thread embroidery on (probably linen) canvas, lined with silk, and with interior compartments made of cardboard covered with silk
Primary Dimensions (height x width open): 8 1/8 x 7 3/4in. (20.6 x 19.7cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Robert W. Hutton
Gallery Copy: Stylized carnations are carefully laid out in alternating rows of two and three flowers, worked in “Irish stitch,” a technique that covered canvas relatively quickly and wore well. The colors were carefully selected— several shades of orange and yellow are set off by white, browns, and bright blues—to produce an accomplished and sophisticated design. Pocketbooks were marks of social and economic status, signaling that their owners needed to carry financial, legal, or other valuable documents. Typically merchants, shopkeepers, lawyers, sea captains, and ministers carried pocketbooks. This example was likely made for Ebenezer Punderson (whose name appears on the inner lining) by his wife, Prudence, or one of their older daughters, Prudence or Hannah.
Description: Canvaswork pocketbook, crewel yarns in shades of red to pink, cream, yellow, and gold, shades of green and blue in a design reminiscent of abstract carnations arranged in rows. (The stitched design of echoed shapes in varying shades is known today as "bargello.") When open, the pocketbook features two opposing compartments, each split in two across the width by a cardboard divider covered with silk. The entire pocketbook is lined with this pale blue silk (which has a group of three narrow woven stripes--it was perhaps once a handkerchief, and these stripes were along the edge), and is edged with blue cotton tape. The sides are accordian-pleated cream-colored silk. Along the top of one of the interior compartments is worked the name "Ebenezer Punderson" and the date "1771" in metallic thread.
Attribution note: According to family history, the pocketbook is said to have been made by Ebenezer's daughter, Sylvia Punderson Morgan (1769-1826). However, Sylvia would only have been about two years old in 1771. It is more likely that the pocketbook was made by Ebenezer's wife Prudence Geer Punderson (1735-1822), an accomplished needleworker. (Schoelwer 11/2008)
Object Number: 1990.40.0
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