Samplers

Samplers are pieces of embroidery produced to master a particular pattern or display the skill of the maker. They often illustrate a variety of needlework elements, including a decorative border, motifs, figures, the alphabet, narrative scenes, the name of the embroiderer, and the date of completion.

Samplers were first used in Northern Europe during the early 16th century. Surviving samplers, depictions of samplers in paintings and books, and written references indicate that most early examples depicted Late Gothic and Early Renaissance motifs and border patterns. By the 17th century in England, samplers were important educational tools embroidered mostly by young girls between the ages of seven and thirteen. The tradition of sampler making quickly spread to the North American colonies, where young girls used strips of linen to learn the alphabet and practice different stitching and open-work techniques.

Following a period of decline during the 18th century, samplers once again became popular templates for learning needlework during the 1830s. Today, professional embroiderers use samplers to create intricate designs in common and precious materials, including wool, lace, and colored silks.


Quick Facts

  • On January 22, 2012, Sotheby’s New York sold a needlework sampler made by Mary Antrim for $1,070,500
  • Parents of talented young embroiderers often displayed their samplers as works of art and status symbols
  • During the late 18th century, female students often embroidered samplers with maps of the globe as an educational exercise

Recommended Items at Auction

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Framed sampler of Eliza Jane Mocullough
Nov 20, 9:00 AM EST
Framed sampler of Eliza Jane Mocullough
by Horst Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$1104 Bids
A group of needlework samplers, English, 19th century,
Oct 25, 10:30 AM BST
A group of needlework samplers, English, 19th century,
by Kerry Taylor Auctions
Est: £100- £150
£801 Bid
Georgian needlepoint sampler
Oct 20, 11:00 AM CDT
Georgian needlepoint sampler
by Jaremos
Est: $150- $250
$500 Bids
1929 Alphabet and Ship Sampler
Oct 27, 11:00 AM EDT
1929 Alphabet and Ship Sampler
by Caza Sikes
Est: $50- $100
$200 Bids
1848 PA German sampler, Brubaker & E. Müller families
Nov 20, 9:00 AM EST
1848 PA German sampler, Brubaker & E. Müller families
by Horst Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$300 Bids
A 1774 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER WITH ADAM, EVE AND ANGELS
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
A 1774 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER WITH ADAM, EVE AND ANGELS
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
THE 1880 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER OF AGNES DADLEY, AGE 11
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
THE 1880 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER OF AGNES DADLEY, AGE 11
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $200- $250
$1000 Bids
THE 1819 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER OF LOUISA LUFKIN, AGE 15
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
THE 1819 CROSS STITCH SAMPLER OF LOUISA LUFKIN, AGE 15
by Dirk Soulis Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$700 Bids
1840 American Sampler
Oct 27, 4:00 PM EDT
1840 American Sampler
by Anzardo's Fine Arts
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
19/20C American Sampler "My Country Tis Of Thee"
Oct 27, 4:00 PM EDT
19/20C American Sampler "My Country Tis Of Thee"
by Anzardo's Fine Arts
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
1916 Embroidered Sampler Framed of Cats and Dogs
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
1916 Embroidered Sampler Framed of Cats and Dogs
by Dana J. Tharp Auctions
Est: $100- $150
$400 Bids
A GOOD SAMPLER in a gilt frame by LOUISE SIMONS, AGE SEVEN. 14.5ins X 12ins.
Oct 21, 10:30 AM BST
A GOOD SAMPLER in a gilt frame by LOUISE SIMONS, AGE SEVEN. 14.5ins X 12ins.
by John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
Est: £100- £150
£900 Bids
A GOOD VICTORIAN FRAMED SAMPLER, possibly American. "Calegrio de Nuestra, Senora de Los Angeles en Abril", wit
Oct 21, 10:30 AM BST
A GOOD VICTORIAN FRAMED SAMPLER, possibly American. "Calegrio de Nuestra, Senora de Los Angeles en Abril", wit
by John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
Est: £250- £300
£2200 Bids
A GEORGE IV FRAMED AND GLAZED SAMPLER by Ellen Bell, Aged 9, 1827. 17ins x 6ins
Oct 21, 10:30 AM BST
A GEORGE IV FRAMED AND GLAZED SAMPLER by Ellen Bell, Aged 9, 1827. 17ins x 6ins
by John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
Est: £300- £400
£2600 Bids
5 gerahmte Stickmustertücher.
Oct 28, 9:00 AM CEST
5 gerahmte Stickmustertücher.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€600 Bids
LATE 18TH C. AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
LATE 18TH C. AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT
by Marion Antique Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT BY ESTER
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT BY ESTER
by Marion Antique Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$2500 Bids
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT BY ELIZABETH
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER WROUGHT BY ELIZABETH
by Marion Antique Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$2500 Bids
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER, WROUGHT BY MARY R.
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
AMERICAN NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER, WROUGHT BY MARY R.
by Marion Antique Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
A Framed Sample?
Oct 17, 1:00 PM EDT
A Framed Sample?
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $25- $250
$250 Bids
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NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1834 14.5" x 9.5" sight. Framed 17.75" x 13".
Nov 18, 9:30 AM EST
NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1834 14.5" x 9.5" sight. Framed 17.75" x 13".
by Eldred's
Est: $4,000- $5,000
$1,7000 Bids
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NEW ENGLAND NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1816 16" x 11.5". Framed 18.25" x 13.25".
Nov 18, 9:30 AM EST
NEW ENGLAND NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1816 16" x 11.5". Framed 18.25" x 13.25".
by Eldred's
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$7500 Bids
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NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1835 16” x 15” sight. Framed 19.5” x 18.5”.
Nov 18, 9:30 AM EST
NEEDLEWORK SAMPLER Dated 1835 16” x 15” sight. Framed 19.5” x 18.5”.
by Eldred's
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
1814 AMERICAN SAMPLER
Nov 13, 11:00 AM EST
1814 AMERICAN SAMPLER
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Samplers


Eldred's

Eldred's

Marion Antique Auctions

Marion Antique Auctions

John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer

John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer

Dirk Soulis Auctions

Dirk Soulis Auctions