Book offers analysis of sampler history


Written by Rebecca Scott, one of Britain’s leading experts on the subject, “Samplers” is an in-depth study, a social history, if you will, of these sometimes simple, sometimes exquisite, always intriguing embroideries.

Whether the reader picks up the book due to an interest in collecting, or they’re curious about the social and historical aspects of these miniature hand-wrought tapestries, they will be pleased with the amount of information packed in this 128-page volume that explores samplers from Great Britain and America from the 17th through the 19th centuries.

Samplers are much more than just hand-stitched pieces of art; they are important historic evidence of lives lived in centuries past. In fact, “Samplers can sometimes provide the only surviving record of lives that would otherwise remain undocumented.” Scott also states, “Samplers provide a decorative and visually stimulating history of both stitching and pattern, and the values and teaching practices of the last four hundred years.” So the samplers not only alert us that these women and girls existed, but what their lives were like.

Many samplers survive today because they have always been regarded as treasured possessions and have been passed from generation to generation because of the respect for the accomplishments of the sampler’s creator. Therefore, there are many samplers for historians, needlework enthusiasts to explore and enjoy.

Lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs, “Samplers” investigates, century by century, the intricately stitched pieces that were worked by women and girls through the past few centuries. The book explores the details of specific samplers, discusses the changes in motifs according to the contemporary social and political atmosphere, and also divulges the schools and institutions that taught young girls the skills and discipline that were expected at the time.

The author, Rebecca Scott, is a partner in Witney Antiques, where she is a specialist in historic embroideries and samplers. Included in the appendices are an in-depth list of footnotes, places to visit in both the U.K. and the U.S., and a list of respectable length for further reading.

“Samplers” is no “bit of fluff for a light read”; it is a serious exploration of samplers as educational, religious and decorative items. However, with the number of large, clear photographs of historic samplers, along with their detailed descriptions, a reader can be kept entertained and intrigued for quite some time just admiring the samplers within.

This book contains the information necessary for an understanding of why, when and where samplers were stitched in the past few centuries. No monetary values are given on these pieces of history fashioned from fabric and thread. ?

CLICK¬†¬†HERE to read the feature “Bewitching stitching: Historic needlework samplers” by Melody Amsel-Arieli



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Samplers, Rebecca Scott, 2009, Shire Publications, softcover, 128 pages, $19.95. www.shirebooks.co.uk. ISBN 978-0-74780-706-3.

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