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Maker(s):Kingsbury, Rebecca
Culture:American (1713-1807)
Date Made:1730-1740
Type:Personal Gear; Container
Materials:textile: wool, silk; cardboard
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Sharon or Dedham
Measurements:overall: 3 in x 6 1/2 in (closed); 7.62 cm x 16.51 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2001.8.1
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Folding pocketbook or purse embroidered in petit-point, and edged in beige silk and lined in pink silk, which was made by Rebecca Kingsbury (1713-1807) of West Dedham, Massachusetts. It may have made while she was teaching at a school in Sharon, Massachusetts, sometime before her 1740 wedding to Nathaniel Gay (1711-1776). A card came with the pocketbook, which is printed on one side, "Mr. George A. Plimpton / 41 East Thirty-Third Street" and inscribed on the back, "Rebecca Kingsbury / who married Nathaniel Gay / my Great Great, Great Grandmother / 200 years old." This is George Ames Plimpton (1927-2003), literary journalist, author, sportsman, and editor of "The Paris Review," who was the son of Francis Taylor Pearsons Plimpton (1900-1995) and Pauline Ames (1901-1995); grandson of George Arthur Plimpton (1855-1936) and Frances Taylor Pearsons (d.1900); great-grandson of Calvin Gay Plimpton (1815-1864) and Priscilla G. Lewis (b.c.1820); great-great-grandson of Henry Plimpton (1787-1860) and Susannah Gay (1796-1864); and great-great-great grandson of Calvin Gay (1755-1814) and Joanna Kingsbury (1760-1849); and great-great-great-great grandson of Nathaniel Gay and Rebecca Kingsbury. Rebecca was the 7th of 9 children of innkeeper Nathaniel Kingsbury and Abigail Baker Kingsbury of West Dedham. Nathaniel was an extensive landowner with a number of luxury items, including books, listed in his probate inventory. He could afford a good education for Rebecca, and she probably learned to quilt in the English style as a school girl. At this time, all types of needlework techniques were practiced by young women from elite New England families, many of whom learned from school mistresses. With Rebecca, this may have been George Brownell of Boston, whose school opened in 1713, offering "Writing, Cyphering, Dancing, Treble Violin, Flute and Spinnet, etc. Also English and French quilting, Imbroidery, Florishing, Plain Work, marking in several sorts of stitches and several other works, where scholars may board." Also see the petticoat (HD 2000.72.3) made by Rebecca. In the 18th century, it was unusual for Rebecca to leave home to teach school. Usually, woman only taught the summer session when men were needed for haying and other farm work. Rebecca and Nathaniel Gay settled in Walpole, Massachusetts, where they had six children, four of whom survived to adulthood.

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