Saturday, August 30, 2008

Scarlet Letters

This is the latest addition to my small sampler collection. I usually don't even look at samplers on ebay because my budget is pretty small and I hate being outbid! This one had a very low starting bid and no one else even bid against me. What luck! The really old samplers are silk on linen. After 1840, the number of samplers being stitched and their quality declined. Later samplers were more likely to be stitched like this one, with wool on a coarse open weave canvas. Many wool samplers fell victim to moths, but this one seems to have fared well. My new sampler, with its ornate letters, is similar to one in the book that got me interested in collecting samplers. It's called a Sampler of Alphabets and I just happened across it on a remainder table one day years ago. I found the samplers so breathtaking that I bought the book and began my study of this form of needlework. At one time, I maintained a website about samplers and co-founded a sampler guild here in Kansas City. I have also been lucky enough to study samplers in the archives of several museums and to attend a sampler symposium in Colonial Williamsburg. I'm not as active with them now, but I still love samplers. Here's a French sampler I own. The red and white combination was quite popular in that country. Unfortunately, someone washed this and the red binding bled, causing the linen to be stained. It's always ill-advised to wash old needlework because the dyes were not colorfast. Here's the sampler with a similar one in the book. And here's a different kind of red and white sampler--a knitting sampler. M really put herself through the paces practicing all kinds of techniques. (You can click on any photo to see more detail.) In a previous post, I showed you my favorite sampler which I thought had been stitched by a girl named Martha Lord. Now I know much more about it thanks to Susan at Miss Maddie's. Susan is a vintage textile appraiser in Canada. She did some research and was so kind to share it with me. A twelve-year old Martha Rod appears in the 1841 census of Raleigh Parish, Essex , England. This is exactly the right age for a samplermaker-- so her name was probably Martha Elen Rod and the word Lord was a religious reference which was very common in samplers. Susan also found a listing for a Hanker's Hall that was a branch of the Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire Banking Company listed in 1852. So now I know more about the stitcher and the building she chose to memorialize. Thanks, Susan!


Karen from A`Musements said...

Can't resist 'red work'.... how wonderful to see so many pretty examples! Thanks for sharing all of them..

CathWren said...

I adore samplers and have stitched quite a few myself with some of the reproduction patterns and have designed one or two of my own as well. Although, I have not had them out on display for ages. Thanks for reminding me how much I love them. Time to get reaquainted.