History of Samplers

About the history of Samplers

The word “sampler” is derived from the Latin word ‘exemplum’ meaning an example. The original purpose of the embroidered sampler was as a learning exercise for remembering and practising stitches before the advent of printing.

Pattern samplers were found in ancient Egyptian tombs. English samplers date back 400 years.

By the early 17th century schoolchildren as young as six were creating samplers as a learning exercise; for deprived children in orphanages the completion of a fine sampler would help to get a place in domestic service where their skills would be used to mark household linens.

Surviving examples bear a poignant witness to the lives of the stitchers, and fetch high prices in auction rooms due to their innate simplicity and charm.

Contemporary samplers draw on this tradition and will become cherished heirlooms for our future generations.