Sampler, T03.56.1
Posted: Jan 8th, 2020 | Collection Spotlight

Our Object of the Week is a sampler dated January 30th, 1817!

Perhaps familiar to some of you, samplers are used as a skills-test for embroidery, and are testament to the labour and effort required in the art form. Historically, experienced embroiderers sometimes used samplers as a way of practicing new patterns before beginning the main project. Young girls would have also practiced their needlework on these patterns to demonstrate their abilities as they learned. This particular sampler was made by 10 year old Phebe Kissam in Jamaica, New York. The plain woven natural linen ground is embroidered with silk floss.

This sampler includes embroidered text from two poems. First, the opening stanza from ‘The Joy of Grief’ by James Montgomery, a Scottish poet from the 18th and 19th centuries: “Sweet the hour of tribulation, When the heart can freely sigh, And the fear of resignation, Twinkles in the mournful eye;” and second, the final stanza from English hymn writer Isaac Watts’ poem ‘Against Idleness and Mischief:’ “In books or work or healthful play, Let my first years be pass, Then I may live for every day, Some good account at last.”

Samplers are still very popular, and can be found for sale from many crafting shops and online platforms. With specific patterns for every maker, there’s sure to be one that interests you – from Lord of the Rings themed, to those who wish to stitch their family tree!

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