Friday, 7 September 2012

Half a Quaker Sampler at Tennant's Auction 8 September

I am always intrigued by these hybrid samplers that display a mixture of Quaker motifs within what one would describe as a standard sampler format. While the Quaker medallion samplers that we know from collections such as Ackworth School and that of Micheál and Elizabeth Feller seem to appear suddenly, fully formed, other samplers, often later, show a kind of diminuation of emphasis on the Quaker motifs, incorporating motifs from elsewhere. On this particular sampler for auction tomorrow by Tennant's of Leyburn, we can see the confronting love-birds at the centre - on a typical Quaker medallion sampler they would be enclosed within an octagonal outline. To each side of the birds are matching baskets of flowers, also from the Quaker repertoire, as is the single cornucopia below and the flanking six-petalled flower sprays. For the rest, the motifs are those common with many other samplers of the time. This sampler was worked by Eliza Machin aged 10 - the date is not readable. The verse at the base reads: If all mankind would live in mutual Love - This world would resemble that above. Did Eliza have a Quaker trained teacher? Was her family Quaker? Or did she simply see these motifs on a friend's sampler and, taking a fancy for them, copy them on to her own?

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