Epistolary Sampler,

Epistolary Sampler,

United States, circa 1820

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sampler size: 8” x 6¼” • frame size: 9½” x 8” • sold

While all samplers are highly personal in nature, some rare examples were made for a particularly private, expressive purpose. These are epistolary samplers – stitched to document an occasion or sentiment. These could exhibit spontaneously composed prose or poetry and are frequently unsigned, as they were made to be given to the intended recipient and not shown in a more public setting. Marsha Van Valin wrote about this interesting form in Common Threads / Common Ground A Collection of Essay on Early Sampler and Historical Needlework (The Scarlet Letter, 2001), Epistolary Samplers: When Needles Were Pens.

We are delighted with our recent acquisition of this small epistolary sampler with its very emotional, compelling message and exquisite, delicate stitching. It reads: “I love you yes believe me / thogh your face I can not see / I will never forget you / Though you may forget me / Then bid me dear Sister / your fond form to forget. / For I love you yes believe me / And will love you untill death” This sampler clearly holds a deep story.

The verse, worked in a lovely shade of blue, was set above two almost abstracted baskets of flowers on spindly stems and a border of similar varied-colored small buds or flowers frames the work. This outpouring by the samplermaker was further conveyed by her delicate composition and color palette.

Worked in silk on fine linen gauze, it remains in excellent condition with some very few stitches missing in the border; it has been conservation mounted into a fine gold leaf frame. A photo taken of the reverse prior to mounting is shown here:

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