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Samplers cover

Samplers: Five Centuries
of a Gentle Craft


The history of sampler making is as colourful and varied as the craft itself. In this lavishly illustrated book, Anne Sebba charts the rise of the sampler in Great Britain and America from its sixteenth century origins through the golden age of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to its present day popularity among collectors of antiques. Throughout the centuries, sampler work has played a central domestic role. The earliest samplers were used as stitch and pattern guides by those wealthy enough to afford the luxury of embroidery but they soon became an art form in their own right.

Lace work samplers and those with elaborate bead or ribbon work were among the many varieties that gained widespread appreciation; school samplers, worked most often by girls, were an essential part of the curriculum in many schools. Throughout the years, samplers have displayed an impressive diversity of styles and stitches and their consistently high standards provide valuable documentation of changing fashions in needlework. Yet they are equally interesting to the social historian for with themes as varied as contemporary events moral behaviour and family life they provide a remarkable informal and intimate reflection of British and American life in the last five centuries An important contribution to the history of domestic crafts, Samplers will appeal to all those anxious to preserve a unique cultural heritage.

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