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Spot motif sampler, c.1620–40. Initialled ‘M C’. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in tent, cross, long-armed cross, back, chain, eyelet, rococo and faggot stitch with pulled work. Silver and silver-gilt threads worked in braid and interlacing stitches, laid and couched work, one spangle. 27 x 42.25 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.2-1928)


Looking at the limited numbers that have survived, it would seem that spot motif samplers are the rarest form of seventeenth-century sampler. They are also the least likely to carry a name, date or inscription. The spots, or detached motifs, are very varied, sometimes geometric, sometimes depicting naturalistic or stylised flora and fauna. They are usually worked with a wide palette of high-quality silks and frequently include silver and silver-gilt metal threads. Such expensive materials indicate that the makers came from a prosperous background. Two spot motif samplers from the museum’s collection are possibly unique in that they carry armorial bearings, adding weight to the theory that they were produced by the daughters of elite and wealthy families. Less luxuriously worked groups of spot motifs occur on many contemporary band samplers. As printed books and sheets of patterns became increasingly accessible during the seventeenth century it seems reasonable to suggest that these simpler detached motifs on band samplers were most likely stitched by girls from the ‘middling’ rather than the upper ranks of society, girls who were learning needle skills but possibly not destined to make an object using a plethora of silks and expensive metal threads.



Spot motif sampler, 17th century. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in tent, cross, rice, double running, faggot, rococo and Hungarian stitch. 21.25 x 52 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.10-1928)




Band and spot motif sampler, c.1650. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, hem, double running and trellis stitch. 12.7 x 71.1 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.9-1928)