From the Latin ‘exemplum’…

… the word sampler is derived…simply meaning “example”…a demonstration in skill. Needlepoint samplers were mainly school exercises during the 18th and 19th centuries, when stitching of samplers was believed to be a sign of virtue, achievement and industry, and girls were taught the art from a young age. Often these lovely and imperfect works were used as household rags and lost forever but others were tucked into trunks and dressers to save and cherish.

My heart beats a little faster when I spy one of these beauties in an antique store. Some are WAAAY out of my budget but some are manageable with a little time spent in layaway (always form a friendly relationship with your local antique dealer…you won’t be sorry). Let me share some of my prized pieces….cherished and loved in my household now…


Susan Combs, age 12, completed this wonderful sampler in 1823, everytime I walk by it I am blown away that it survived almost 2 centuries. I hang this work  in awe and wonderment.


This one is unsigned but seems to be the work of a very young girl still challenged by spacing. When I walk by it I am reminded that life is a process. We need to enjoy the journey and forget the notion of perfection. There is beauty in imperfection. I hang this work in gratitude.


What happened to Caroline Smith , age 12 ? Why is her sampler unfinished? Why was it kept in pristine, immaculate condition for almost 175 years? Her life, perhaps cut short, remains a mystery.  When I walk by it I am reminded that life can be sobering, fragile and often taken for granted. I hang this work in remembrance.

imageNot every sampler in my collection is old, or even vintage, but they do commemorate life changing events in my life…becoming a wife and becoming a Mama…they were completed by my own mother and will be cherished and loved for many generations. I hang these works in love.


Thank you for the visit but I must be going…


I have an invitation to tea.

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Feather Nest Friday@French Country Cottage

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42 thoughts on “From the Latin ‘exemplum’…

  1. Amy, these samplers are really precious and you are blessed to have them in your home. I too would wonder about the young ladies who worked so tirelessly on them. They are real works of art and also very charming. I’m so glad you shared them with us. Enjoy your tea time!



  2. Dear Amy:
    I hope you enjoyed your tea time there with the Princess and those darling friends! These samples you shared are really a journey back in time. What a difference it must of been – tv turned off and probably humming as we stitch. I love the gentler times! Thanks for sharing and linking.


  3. I have liked the old antique samplers also for years, some do sell for hundreds of dollars and more.
    I have 3 however not as old as your 12 years old girls samplers
    I love the soft turquoise or blue silk threads in one of them that is unfinished


  4. Such amazing talent and work went into these samplers. They’re all so beautiful. I won’t keep you from your tea date, but I wanted to invite you to link up to our party, Sweet Inspiration. It starts on Friday and runs until Tuesday. Hope to see you there.


  5. Amy, as one who appreciates antique, vintage, and new samplers and stitches myself, I found this a touching post. You have some lovely pieces. I like the thoughtfuness of this post. Well done!
    Your tea time looks most inviting.


    1. Thank you. I stitch a little but have watched my Mom work on an challenging pieces for weeks and months at a time. I find them all beautiful and amazing work. I am glad to meet someone who also understands the attraction.


  6. How sweet are these little samplers! I love how they open a door to times gone by, it’s so sweet to see the love that these young gals poured into their samplers. Although I think the wedding sampler your mama made is my favorite… it’s so pretty! Thanks for linking up with us at last weeks Welcome Home Wednesday Link Party… I can’t wait to see what you link up with us tomorrow! The party will be open at 7am CST!


    1. My Mom’s work is exquisite. I have several of her pieces. She has her stitch work on display at several museums and historical houses. I wish I had that gift.


  7. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how lovely these samplers are, all of them! Your post brought a smile to my face as my own mother loved to make samplers. She made one for each of us upon college graduation. Like yours from your mom,they will be treasured for years to come. Thanks so much for sharing at Vintage Charm! Hope to see you there tomorrow! xo Kathleen Charm Bracelet Diva {At Home}


  8. Amy, you have yet another darling collection there! I adore the old samplers too. I actually recall doing one myself as a year 7 student. I’m showing my age now! How sad that that skill has gone our of style. Thanks for sharing at Five Star Frou-Frou last week. Will you join us again? Mimi xxx


  9. Lovely post and I oh so love a tea party! I have only seen a few samplers out here, antiques stores are not as popular where I live as they were in the South. They are really lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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