Coat of Arms

Maker: Embroidered by Mary Ann Thomas (born 1772)

Maker: Probably Mrs. Deborah Snow's School

Designer: Pattern drawn by John and Samuel Gore

Date: ca. 1786

Geography: Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Black satin embroidered with silk thread

Dimensions: 18 x 18 in. (45.7 x 45.7 cm)

Classification: Textiles

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1936

Accession Number: 36.28


This is a classic example of the type of heraldic needlework created in a number of Boston embroidery schools. While tent-stitch embroidered coats of arms were popular until about 1740, after the middle of the century the typical embroidered coat of arms was stitched in silk and metallic thread on a black silk background. Designs for coats of arms were found in a variety of source books available in Boston, one of the most popular being John Guillim's Display of Heraldry (6th ed. 1724). The fashion for decorating homes with coats of arms became so widespread that Boston was able to support several artists specializing in heraldic painting. These painters owned heraldry books, which schoolgirls consulted. After the girl had chosen an appropriate coat of arms, the artist would draw the design on silk for her to stitch.