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Sampler

A sampler is an embroidered picture. In its simplest form it is, as its name suggests, an example of different stitches that the embroiderer, often a child, knows how to create, a demonstration of the extent of her embroidery skills.

The simplest samplers are composed of an alphabet and numbers in rows with sometimes a quotation from the bible, but samplers can be more pictorially complex featuring flora, fauna and people. They are quite often signed with the name and age of the embroiderer.


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Abigail and Maria’s sampler skills still celebrated today

22 January 2024

There is a huge disconnect today between the best and rest in the sampler world.

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Two 18th century samplers related to Robert Burns are among five lots to watch

30 October 2023

With estimates from £200, here are five previews of items coming up at auction this week.

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Colourful creations but the work of Quakers

16 October 2023

A small thread-covered purse or sweet bag in the shape of a pair of bellows is one among the highlights at Witney Antiques’ exhibition 'Choice and Precious Work: Treasures from the Schoolroom', which looks at historic needlework creations beyond the sampler.

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Early dated Scottish sampler draws bidding six times over estimate

25 September 2023

Prices for embroidered samplers can vary hugely depending on what specific features are involved as well as factors such as condition and provenance.

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Hand-embroidered pannier dress flies over expectations

04 September 2023

By the mid-18th century, as the fashion for the pannier dress reached its peak, some women wore dresses measuring 7ft (2.13m) wide.

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Pick of the week: Lessons pointed the poor towards job skills

28 August 2023

Well known for pottery, Sally Tuffin (b.1938) is also renowned for pioneering 1960s fashion as part of the Foale and Tuffin firm.

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Stitch in time: embroidered sampler makes 35 times estimate in Newcastle

15 May 2023

The best needlework samplers continue to bring prices far above more routine examples.

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Super sampler selection in Oxfordshire

21 November 2022

Oxfordshire dealership Witney Antiques’ latest exhibition features early example of band samplers.

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English embroideries impress at US auction

05 September 2022

Massachusetts sale includes elaborate examples of early needlework from across the Atlantic

Needlework book

Guide gets to the point: needlework sample album highlight of Nottinghamshire sale

18 July 2022

Just as the title reads, this album offered by Mellors & Kirk in Nottingham contains Specimens of Needle-Work Executed in the Female Model School, Kildare-Place, Dublin.

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Chaise longue value lies in the maker

11 April 2022

Knowledgeable bidders spot a design by Owen Jones on offer in North Yorkshire

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5 Questions: Rebecca Scott of Witney Antiques

04 April 2022

Rebecca Scott runs Witney Antiques, which is one of the businesses taking part in this week’s 'Cotswolds Curated' event.

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Sisters' sampler skills on show at Mallams' auction

30 August 2021

Samplers made by siblings or generations of the same family can attract a significant commercial premium.

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British needlework looks sharp at auction

16 August 2021

Embroidered samplers and pictures in high demand stateside

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Samplers make a string of positive auctions results

17 May 2021

Estimated at just £80-150, a Queen Anne or George I period needlework sampler sold for £10,000 via thesaleroom.com at Lawrences (25% buyer’s premium) of Crewkerne.

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Samplers thread their way from orphanage to auction

17 August 2020

Estimated at just £30-50, a late 19th century sampler sold via thesaleroom.com for £1850 at Wotton Auction Rooms (18% buyer’s premium) in Gloucestershire. A clue to the appeal is the inscription 'M Mountain, 5 Orphan House, Ashley Down, Bristol, 1879'.

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Shell out for unusual furniture

30 March 2020

As a young man in the 1960s, British creative designer Anthony Redmile (b.1937) took the London interior design scene by storm. Although his work was hugely eclectic, he became best known for his quirky designs taken from the animal kingdom.

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Positive thoughts in the bleak Van Diemen’s Land

02 December 2019

This rare sampler, just 6in (15cm) across, was completed by a girl from the Queens Orphan School in Van Diemen’s Land (the island of Tasmania) in 1838.

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A superb selection of sentimental samplers

25 March 2019

Among the most desirable of all needlework samplers are those associated with pupils at the Ackworth School, founded as a co-educational boarding school in 1779 by the Quaker physician John Fothergill and still thriving today.

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Pick of the Week: Sampler soars to £14,000 result

29 October 2018

Among the most desirable of all needlework samplers are those associated with pupils of the orphanages, asylums and charity schools of the Georgian and Victorian eras.