The antique sampler holds the wonderful allure of beauty, practicality and the tantalizing hope of using growing online genealogy resources to trace the specific creator. Today we think of samplers as early needlework, from the 18th and 19th centuries, stitched by young schoolgirls with silk, cotton or wool thread on a linen or background. But they actually have been around since medieval times as evidenced by Shakespeare and others referring to samplers in their writings and there are even a few fragments of samplers that exist from this time period.
Early samplers were focused on just the basics – examples of embroidery stitches and techniques that would be useful in the repair of household items. They were often made from a narrow “band” of fabric - reflecting the economics that larger pieces of fabric were very expensive. As samplers evolved, the shape and content became larger and more decorative. An article written in 1916 by Walter A Dyer summarizes the sampler’s development:
"The sampler passed through several stages of development before its day waned. At first a mere record of designs, it later became an example of handiwork, then a training for little girls, and finally a schoolroom task."
Samplers, just as other textiles, have too easily been destroyed by moths, mildew, sunshine, and just from handling. Often you will find them with small holes or faded but even when they are not in perfect condition, samplers are wonderful examples of folk art. As Mr. Dyer so wonderfully said, “I know of none which offers more of quaint, human charm than the samplers our great-grandmothers laboriously fashioned.” Almost 100 years later, the only thing we need to change in his quote is to add another couple of generations by adding additional "great-"s on the front of grandmothers!
There are over 1400 results on Dig Antiques when you search for samplers here.
Here are a few interesting online and book references on samplers:
- The Quaint Old Tale the Sampler Tells , Walter A. Dyer, Country Life in America, April 1916.
- Antique and Vintage Samplers, Collector's Weekly online.
- Samplers & Samplermakers: An American Schoolgirl Art 1700-1850, Mary Jane Edmonds, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., October 1991.
- Samplers (Shire Collections), Rebecca Scott, Shire, February 2010.
- Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art, and Family, 1740-1840, Susan P. Schoelwer, Connecticut Historical Society, October 2010.
Valuing What We Have
It seems that as antique lovers, collectors and dealers we're always being asked about or we think about how to place a value on unique items. Using the search on Dig Antiques, it's now easier than ever to find out approximately how the market is currently valuing a specific antique.
But this past week we have once again been reminded of the question - how do you place a value on family and friends? Of course the answer that we too often have is we don't - until it's too late. So we'd like to take a moment to tell you how much we value the many people we've met and friendships that have developed over the years through our common love of antiques. We truly value your encouragement, knowledge, sharing and support. When all is said and done, the value we place on your friendship and support is...priceless.
Tom & Sheila Baker
We Dig It...do you? Dig Antiques - Real stuff without the fluff.