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 a shopping date waiting for me!

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14 thoughts on “From the Latin ‘exemplum’…

  1. I work part-time in a vintage store and it always saddens me when we get woman’s handwork in because this work is part of her legacy and should be handed down in the family. Yet it is so under valued by the majority of folks. Enjoyed your post. I live samplers too. 🙂


  2. Wow, these are gorgeous! Thank you for highlighting them in your post.

    And I for one can say I deeply sympathize with Unsigned, I too had terrible spacing problems when I leaned stitching…


  3. I own only one truly antique sampler-it was found in my home state of Tennessee. You made a really good point about payments. I would never have been able to afford it at one time, but 6 months was well worth it.


  4. Needlework and vintage dishes are my favorites! I’m featuring your post tomorrow at the Little Cottage Link Party. Have a great week!


  5. How pretty the samplers are! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 11, open April 1 to 26. All entries shared on social media if share buttons installed. I’d like to invite you to check out my other current link parties!


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