Thursday 22 August 2013

Diane Pelham Burn's 47 Sampler Lots For Auction @ Dreweatts, Donnington Priory * 30 August 2013

The late Diane Pelham Burn was a lecturer and writer on needlework and thimbles. Her sampler collection represents a foremost passion, and evidences a lifetime of interest in the subject.The daughter of a shoe manufacturer, she was born Diane Rider Hess on November 15 1932 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Like other young girls in her native Maryland, Diane had been taught the rudiments of needlework, producing her first sampler at the age of six. It was not a thing of beauty, but it made her appreciate the skill of the children who had created the antique American and British samplers which her mother collected. Yet it was only after she moved to England in 1964 that she developed her interest into something more serious.
There will be 47 samplers in total for auction, dating from 1640 to the late 19th century, with estimates ranging from £80 to £200. To see the full textile catalogue for this sale, simply click here. Remember, if you wish to bid you will need to establish your credentials early to avoid disappointment. OK in no particular order of personal favouritism there is Lot 1 (top image) worked by Jane Watkins, aged 10 years, circa 1780, designed to the centre with a many windowed house, to the left Justice and to the right Adam and Eve, the upper and lower portions with rows of trees, flowers, animals, birds, crowns and figures in cross, long and short stitches with coloured silks on a wool ground. Measuring 44cm x 33cm the estimate is: £700 - £1,000

Lot 2 is by Elizabeth Morgan, worked in 1828, designed with a cottage, a windmill and animals in a field, the border with flowers and leaves in cross, satin and laid stitches with coloured silks and wool ground. Measuring 14cm x 35.5cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 10 is by Elizabeth Smart, born January 10th 1734, designed with Christ on the Cross, the upper section with the alphabet and a prayer worked in eye, cross and Florentine stitches with coloured silks on a linen ground. Measuring 43.5cm x 10cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 18 is Dutch, initialled B.C.B. and dated Anno, 1821, designed with isolated motifs of a sailing ship, a house, a windmill, flowering plants in vases, birds in birdcages, angels, figures and birds, a tall upright plant to either side worked in coloured silks with mainly cross stitches on a linen ground. Measuring 38cm x 45cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 24 is by Jane Lawson of Kincardine, a Scottish multiplication table, dated May 18 1800, designed with vertical and horizontal rows of numbers, the left portion including a prayer, the upper section and border with the alphabet and numerals worked in cross and eye stitches with blue silks on a linen ground. Measuring 28.5cm square the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 32 is an English long sampler dated 1669 with the initials ME, designed with rows of the alphabet, roses, acorns, upright and inverted plants, boxers and honeysuckle worked in coloured silks with stem, satin, buttonhole and herringbone stitches on a linen ground. It measures 74cm x 20cm and the estimate is: £1,500 - £2,000

Lot 33 is a spot needlework sampler, probably Dutch, circa 1720. The linen ground with flower sprays and plants within a geometric border worked in Rococo eye and cross stitches with coloured silks. It meaures 23cm x 32cm and the estimate is: £200 - £300

Lot 35 was worked by Hilled Alexander, aged 14 in 1750, a Scottish needlework sampler, designed with a row of flowers and one with figures wearing breeches beside a flowering plant, the lower portion with a house, crowns, initials, birds, animals and trees, worked mainly in cross stitch with coloured silks on a wool ground. Measuring 30cm x 26.5cm the estimate is: £800 - £1,200

Lot 36 is signed Fanney Martin, her work 1773,  designed with a figure of William Shakespeare and a quote from The Tempest Act IV Scene 1 within an octagonal border, the surround with a church, a clock, vases of flowers, two houses, trees, fruit and flowering plants, with coloured silks on a wool ground worked in cross, chain, long and short stitches. Measuring 54cm x 34cm, the estimate is: £1,500 - £2,000

Lot 46 is a set of 4 collections of William and Mary or Queen Anne needlework samples (only one shown above), late 17th/early 18th century, depicting figures, castles and other buildings, animals and birds, later arranged and mounted on four rectangular linen panels, framed and glazed. The estimate for all is: £300 - £500. Happy bidding!


  1. Lot 46 is brilliant. Do you know of any other examples like this? Do you think they are slips or cut up from a larger panel? Did Diane Pelham Burn write about her collection anywhere?

    questions, questions.

    Thanks for showing us these

  2. I have seen a few other examples like Lot 46 - some of which appeared to be cut down, others not. It is an interesting question and it is difficult to say from the images I have of this lot how they started out. What is interesting is the repetition on this panel of the two motifs in the lower corners and the near repetition of the motifs above them. It would be interesting if these were being produced commercially for sale ...... but as you say, questions, questions! Why not contact the auction the house to see if they can put you in contact with Diane Pelham Burn's executors to see if she made any notes about her collection, I'm sure they would help you.