Beaded Sampler

Sampler, silk on linen with beads, Mexico, 19th century Sampler, silk on linen with beads, Mexico, 19th century Copyright Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, acc. no. 57.122.264.

Most Western style samplers are made from a cloth ground with various forms of stitching or patterns worked onto it. Sometimes they also include beads or samples of beadwork (such as a nineteenth century Mexican sampler now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 57.122.264).

What is much rarer, however, are samplers made totally from beads. One such example, dating to the early nineteenth century, is referred to by the English embroidery historian Pamula Clabburn (1976, p. 234). It appears to have been made by bead weaving of some kind, rather than sewing the beads down onto a cloth or canvas ground.

The text on the sampler reads: “Dear mother a gift from your affectionate son James Jackson his work when a blue coat aged 13 years Lincoln”

Needlework and related subjects have seldom been taught in boys' schools, but the existence of this sampler suggests that at least one school, a Blue Coat School in Lincoln (England; Blue Coat Schools were charity schools, the name comes from the colour of the pupils’ school uniform), regarded beadwork as a suitable subject for its pupils in the early nineteenth century. The present whereabouts of this object are unknown.

Source: CLABBURN, Pamela (1976). The Needleworker’s Dictionary, London: Macmillan London Ltd, p. 234.

Metropolitan Museum of Art online catalogue (retrieved 6 July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 15:00
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