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Marking Sampler

Marking sampler from Groningen, The Netherlands, c. 1915. Marking sampler from Groningen, The Netherlands, c. 1915. Courtesy Textile Research Centre, acc. no. TRC 2014.1026

A marking sampler is a small piece of cloth with the alphabet, numbers (up to ten) and possibly the name of the girl who made the sampler. The alphabet and ciphers were regarded as enough for a person to show that she would be able to mark an object (such as a garment) with a name and number, even if she was semi-literate.

The cotton ground material for marking samplers was usually an open, even-weave tabby (a form of canvas). Sometimes the samplers were cut out from a larger piece of material that was already provided with guidelines in the ground weave to indicate the right sizes.

Items to be marked with the symbols on the sampler included clothing, furnishings such as bed sheets, cushions, pillow cases, tablecloths, serviettes etc. In Northwestern Europe, in the mid- to late nineteenth century, marking samplers were usually worked in cross stitch in a red silk, and later in a cotton thread.

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 10th May 2017).

GVE

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 17:56