Woolwork spot sampler; Unknown maker; dated 1878

Woolwork spot sampler; Unknown maker; dated 1878

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A woolwork embroidered sampler; square, with white scrolling corner motifs framing many bright colored motifs on black background. Anonymous. Worked in cross stitch, in wool yarns on an open weave canvas ground. An old English "M" is in the center and the date Feb. 1878 appears at the top. Among the motifs, which are densely arranged, with no particular connection among them, are: figures dressed in Colonial garb; a puppet show stage labeled "Guignol"; pitchfork-holding devils; various animals (several different cats, two goats butting heads; monkeys; donkey; elephant; heraldic dragon; chicken; insects) children on a seesaw; a man on a bicycle; musical instruments; a stereotypical Indian figure with the motto above it "Up to Snuff" suggesting it was taken from a tobacco advertisement; and a small square with the stereotypical black "dancing figures" with the motto "We's Free." The random assortment of motifs suggests that the maker copied readily available images, perhaps from pattern books or magazines. Whether they meant something to the maker personally, we cannot know.
Currently not on view
Object Name
sampler; woolwork
Physical Description
cotton penelope canvas (overall ground)
wool and silk (overall thread)
overall: 24 in x 24 1/2 in; 60.96 cm x 62.23 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Albert Adsit Clemons
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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