Earlier this year I attended the Scottish Samplers Study Day at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which was one of the events to accompany their Embroidered Stories: Scottish Samplers exhibition.
Seeing this fascinating exhibition inspired me to look in more depth at our own collection of samplers here in Aberdeen.
▲The oldest sampler in our collection was sewn by Hannah Bosvile who was born on December 16 1741 and lived in Moregate, England.
Sewing the alphabet helped children to learn to read and was also useful for marking linen at a time when many girls went into domestic service. The initials of Hannah’s family members are sewn inside rectangles with crowns above.
▲The mid-19th Century linen canvas sampler by Nellie Valentine, aged 11, was sewn using a range of colourful Berlin wool colours.
The peacock in the centre is an image that frequently appears on Scottish samplers but it is a mystery why – answers on a postcard, please!
▲The sampler sewn in 1857 by Jemima Anne Isabella Milne, aged 9, has two peacocks embroidered above the roof of the house.
Samplers were used to show the virtue and diligence of the sewer and often featured religious verses encouraging children to behave well.
▲The sampler completed on May 16 1859 by Mary Walker, aged 10, has a floral pattern and two blue birds on the lower section.
Mary attended school in Forgue near Huntly in Aberdeenshire. The black thread used to sew the initials of some of her family members indicates that they were already deceased when this sampler was made.
▲The sampler made in 1895 by Ella F Ross, aged 10, has a strawberry border which symbolises perfection.
Samplers were often handed down the generations as a record of family history and we are really fortunate to have such a lovely collection.