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


These diamond-shaped coats of arms represent the various kinds of intricate crafts practiced by young women in eighteenth-century New England. In demonstration of their accomplished domestic talents, female family members executed these decorative emblems at schools for young ladies where they copied an appealing coat of arms from a pattern book. Coats of arms were made either in embroidery or quillwork, a technique of tightly curled paper shaped into a design, frequently embellished with crushed glass, mica, and pearls. However, embroidered coats of arms with silk and precious metallic threads on a black silk background were more common. Although lacking the royal social hierarchy of Great Britain, many of Boston’s merchant class families adopted coats of arms to imply heraldic ancestry and reflect their wealth and social position.