Friday, July 11, 2014

A Unique Vintage Needle Arts Sampler

Just a quick post to share a truly remarkable sampler that I saw the other night on Antiques Roadshow! It was from the "Vintage Toronto" broadcast, which updated the prices on the objects originally assessed in 1999, and this has been the show's only Canadian adventure to date (although we did have a spin-off for a while).

The Sampler was stitched by *Maria Taylor - the bottom center panel with the neat drawn-work edging has her information - as her application for the position of Home Economics teacher in 1879. What is amazing to me is not only all the small samples of different needlework types but the way it is presented, in the beautiful frame with the hand-made triangular rickrack around it! Needless to say, she got the job :)

(*In the Appraisal Transcript, the Appraiser says "Harriet" was the stitcher and the owner - the stitcher's grand-daughter - does not correct him, but in the last photo of the slideshow, it is clear that first letter is an M, as it is identical to that letter as she stitched it for "St. Marie's School", so Maria is my best guess at the actual stitching!)

The pictures on the website are a bit blurry, but you can see the full video of the Appraisal here at PBS, and it is well worth watching!!! Maria was an amazingly talented stitcher, and has everything from teeny tiny knitted socks to perfect miniature dresses (the sundress and crocheted hat above her signature panel is especially cute). I'd love a clearer look at it, but I noticed panels of needle darning and weaving, hand quilting, smocking, embroidery and needlelace work.

In the center is a wonderful petit point design of a handsome hound:

And my very favourite aspect is the impossibly delicate sheet music bars, from "Home Sweet Home", above the hound panel. The detail is so incredibly fine and accurate, I think you could actually play from it! And it's such a lovely sentiment :) 

It sort of sums up the whole display - the samples are the epitome of the domestic arts, which speaks to the importance of the idea of family life at the time. Because when she made this spectacular Sampler, not only was she applying for a paying job as a teacher but she was - like most women at the time - also proving her competence in "home making" skills which would be an asset in a marriage match. 

Her full-sized work must have been gorgeous, and we know from the conversation that she did marry and start a family. I imagine that her children must have been beautifully clothed :) What a lovely testament to a very talented lady's abilities! 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any information on whether the Sampler was sold, but hopefully that means that it will be passed down through the family and treasured for generations to come. It's truly priceless as an heirloom but it has also maintained it's monetary value at $1500 to $2500, from 1999 to 2013 :) 

Personally, I find this piece to be incredibly inspiring! I've become very interested in trying different styles of needlework lately but I'm wary of committing to an entire project in one style. Especially since the fine linen work - drawn thread, darning, weaving and the like - are so tedious to work. I was thinking of doing little samples, but had no idea what to do with them when finished, and that seemed wasteful.

I really like this idea of framing them all together in a display, although I would try something on a MUCH smaller scale LOL! Maybe an 8 x 10 frame ;) What about you?

PBS also has an archive of all their Needlework Appraisal Videos - Happy Browsing!


Karen said...

That's a fascinating sampler, Aurelia, and your report on it is very interesting! I imagine there are very few people in our time that have the skills to make something like this. My favorite part is the Berlin work section.

Anne said...

Stunning sampler and so much work for a resume! lol!! Canadian samplers are so rare but if they do exist they are mostly from back east. The little dog and sheet music are such sweet details.

Karen said...

I love the little petit point dog. He's adorable. I agree the music notes are beautiful and so delicate. I jumped over to see the appraisal and it was quite interesting. Hard to believe someone is capable of doing all of that impeccably.

Love your idea of doing some small samplers and putting them together like this. :)

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments, I'm so sorry this reply is late! I've decided to go ahead with my own little Sampler of Samples (SOS?) - which needs a better name - and really appreciate the encouragement. It will be interesting to try something different ;)