Additional Craft Information:
Samplers take their name from the French Essamplaire and the Latin Exemplarium meaning example. Samplers where first used to record examples of stitches and were sewn on small lengths of cloth. As time went by they became a teaching tool, teaching young girls the art and discipline of needlework.
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It's strange to think that something that was classed as a lesson, should survive today and become highly collectible and in some cases command such a high purchase price. In a way it's like the coursework that we completed at school, one day becoming a collectible item.
Although there are not many surviving examples of Samplers before the 1600's, from the Seventeenth century onwards there are a relatively large number of samplers to be found, most in excellent condition. One reason for the relatively large number available from the Seventeenth century is thought to be that, as time went by needlework became part of a young girl's basic education. This also goes some way to explaining why there are more samplers sewn by young girls, rather than the older ladies. This is known, because a lot of these samplers have the age of the person who stitched it, and sometimes their names and the date it was finished, stitched into them.
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When studying these beautiful historical items, it becomes very apparent at the skill and patience that that these young girls possessed to create these samplers. Although samplers initially started out as teaching tools, they quickly became tools with which to record stitches and motifs. This then evolved, into a way to record and teach students to stitch, as they could instantly see how a stitch was achieved.
As time progressed throughout the Seventeenth century, the alphabet, numbers and religious texts began to appear on the samplers. The sampler had progressed from being just a tool teaching stitches, to a central part of a young girl's education. Samplers were not just something that was practised in England, and beautiful examples have been found throughout Europe and America.
Even though sewing to that standard is no longer taught, it may surprise you to know that even in the Twenty-First century, people are still producing samplers. However, these samplers are normally sewn from kits and range from the traditional looking to more modern variations. It would be fascinating to go forward in time 500 years and see if the samplers people are sewing today, are still being collected.
To read more about samplers, cross stitch, blackwork, embroidery and other needlework related topics, please visit my site needlecrafts.simpleway2.com