Friday 28 January 2011

Buying Those Samplers at Auction

Every so often we feature samplers that are coming up for auction and I thought you would like to hear more about the buyer's experience. Jane was very taken by this lot of samplers which came up for auction in October at Stride and Son of Chichester. I'll let Jane tell her story. She says, I took a bit of a leap of faith as I liked the one on the left. It was a bit awkward for me to attend the auction even though I only live about 20 or so miles from the auction rooms and so I did an online bid. I didn’t hear anymore and thought that I had not won but a few days later I received an invoice stating that I had 7 days to pay and collect. I was going to wait until the Saturday morning to collect but I was so excited I took the time off work to go and collect them and I wasn’t disappointed. I spent about 2 hours studying them that first evening, and for about a week afterwards every time I looked at them I discovered something different about them. I still like my favourite one better, the work is so fine and it is in excellent condition. The one on the right is very coarse but it is still very interesting despite the fact that some of the threads are missing in places and also when it is placed next to the better one it serves to show the stark difference between the two types of sampler. The verse in the middle of the second sampler reads:
Low in the dust my parents lie
And no attentive ear is nigh
But thine to mark my woe
No hand to wipe away my tears
No gentle voice to hush my fears
Remains to me below
A present of respect from a friend
You’ll laugh at me but the first night I had them home, I thought to myself, I’ve watched too many horror films in my time so what if they are haunted (I live on my own). How daft was that. Anyone who could sew to that quality and spend that amount of time sewing as a thank you for a friend is welcome in my house anytime. I smile every time I look at them and wonder about the history. I believe they are Scottish but that is as much as I can find out. I would like to take the backs off to see if there is anything behind but I don’t want to spoil them so for now they will stay as they are.
I must say this experience has meant that I would be willing to do it again so much so I saw another sampler on your blog just before Christmas which was a blackwork one but I was unsuccessful that time. But I will keep looking and maybe I will be lucky again.
Jane askes if anyone has ever taken old samplers out of their frame? Would you recommend getting them reframed? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thank you for telling us of your experience, Jane. I am so pleased these special samplers have found a caring home with you.


  1. They are gorgeous and congratulations to Jane. I would take them out of their frames and put them in frames where the sampler doesn't touch the glass, use acid free mount board as well.

  2. how exciting that you went for it and won.
    i always think i will try and haven't yet. i do own two 1800 samplers and have had both looked at by my local framer and reframed. i think it is worth it just to make sure they are in the best frame for a long life. yours are beautiful! congratulations

  3. Beautiful pieces and thinking about the history and the person who made them is part of the fun. I would afraid to do them myself, I would probably have them redone by a profession art restorer, to keep the heirloom quality, but check for damage or bad mounting, to keep them intact for years to come.


  4. If Jane takes them out of the frame, she should photograph the reverse sides of the samplers before having them reframed.

    I would hesitate to attempt such work myself; I think it would be best to find a textile conservator and ask for advice.