Faith, Hope, & Charity

By the 1840s a new technique [in the field] of needlepoint known as Berlin wool work was the rage. It arose in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century. New dyes became available and brightly colored wools could be worked in tent stitch on canvas. The patterns were painted by hand on “point paper,” which today would be called graph paper. Some of the patterns were copies of famous paintings.
This rectangular Berlin wool work piece depicts Faith, Hope, and Charity. The three large seated female figures in the center of the work. The one on the left is holding a babe, the one in the center holds a chalice and a book, and the one on the right holds a flower. Three small children are in the center foreground, one holding a parasol and another with a dog. At the bottom is stitched: “EMMA FRANCES FEATHER – 1855.” It is embroidered on cotton canvas that has a warp of 28/in and weft of 24/in. The thread is worsted wool and the stitches are cross and half cross.
Faith, Hope, and Charity are three theological virtues. The woman on the left represents Charity, the woman in the center, Faith, and the woman on the right, Hope. The opening flower she is holding is a symbol for hope. The more traditional symbol for hope is an anchor.
Emma Frances Feather was born on June 27, 1840, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to James Augustus and Mary Ann Fisher Feather. She married Levi G. Coleman on February 23, 1897. She died January 31, 1906. In the Reading, Pennsylvania, directories, she is listed as a vestmaker and Levi is listed as a merchant tailor.
Currently not on view
Object Name
canvas work
date made
Feather, Emma Frances
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
overall: 33 1/2 in x 34 1/8 in; 85.09 cm x 86.6775 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Reading
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Embroidered Pictures
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Embroidered Pictures
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brumbach
Additional Media

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