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Needlework pin cushion

Odessa, Delaware



Ann Jefferis Wilson (1791-1822)


6 3/4 in x 5 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in


Silk, linen, and canvas

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.

Accession Number



AW” is stitched into one side. A paper label with “Ann Jefferis Wilson / about 1800” written in ink is sewn onto one end.

Condition Notes

The brittle silk ground has broken away in several areas and has overall toning. The fringe has detached except for one corner and a few isolated strands. Small dots appear in the silk ground at one side (see text for discussion).


Ex coll. Mrs. E. Tatnall (Mary Corbit) Warner


This pin cushion, made in a size and shape typical of the opening decades of the 19th century, was almost certainly worked by Ann Jefferis Wilson.  On one side the pin cushion has a colorful flowering branch; the other side has a floral wreath enclosing the finely wrought initials “AW” for Ann (Jefferis) Wilson.  A paper label stitched into one end has Mary Corbit Warner’s distinctive handwriting identifying the work as by Ann. Warner’s dating of it as “about 1800” is far too early, not only because Ann was only 9 years old, but she did not marry until 1808, when she began to use "W."  

The pin cushion shows effects of age.  Although the silk embroidery remains intact and retains its colors, the silk ground does not.  Among its various disfigurements are small brown dots, particularly noticeable on the initialed side.  They appear regularly, not randomly.  Inspection of the linen canvas beneath the silk shows a regular grid of black dots.  Probably applied with ink, these dots subsequently bled into the silk.  They likely provided a grid for the needleworker, allowing her to plan out her composition with an expectation of balance and symmetry. The canvas may have come with the dots, but more likely Ann put them on herself.


Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 192-193.