Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Mystery * Slips Sold To Needleworkers By The Chapman?

A little while ago we posted about two sets of slips which had come up for auction. One of which you can see above. What is particularly interesting about this set is the duplication of slips in the bottom corners. Their appearance generated a deal of interest, and Barbara from the Yorkshire branch of the Embroiderers' Guild sent us a picture of a slip on a patchwork quilt that she is researching.
Today while rereading Vivian Crellin's book on samplers - Tokens of Love - I came across a very interesting paragraph and two illustrations (below) that I had totally forgotten about. The illustrations show collections of slips sewn onto silk. I am afraid the book gives no further details about the whereabouts of these items.

Vivian tells us that in the time of Charles II, haberdashers and travelling chapmen were by now selling emblems and motifs already made up on a plain silken or linen ground. These 'slips' were cut out and applied with stitching to the scene needlewomen were sewing for their stump-work panels and furnishings, elevating the design with a professional skill the ladies might not have accomplished without help.

Unfortunately, Vivian gives no references for us to follow up this information. Many of the panels I have examined show underdrawings which have been embroidered in situ. I have always thought that panels such as Vivian's illustrations were motifs scavenged from worn or damaged panels.
However, it did make me wonder about a panel with a slightly idiosyncratic arrangement of motifs which came up for auction at Christies. Was this an example of pre-stitched motifs being applied to a panel? Or have these been scavenged from an earlier source and recomposed? And then I remembered the slips at Traquair House.

As part of a tour in Scotland one Easter, I was able to pop in to Traquair House. There I saw panels of petit point slips densely laid out - their outlines interlocking. At the time I wondered if they were ever meant to be separated and applied individually as embellishments to furnishings as Margaret Swain tells us they were. And if they were meant to be separated, then why weren't they? Again was this some example of a local estate industry? I would love to have your contributions to this mystery - whether you are adding more issues or providing evidence to solve them.

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