Ann Grimshaw 1818
Origin and date: Ackworth Quaker School 1818
Linen count and finished size: 35 or 40 count (please specify!) 18-3/4″x24-1/2″ or 16-1/2″x21-1/2″
Stitches: cross and eyelet
Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art
An Ackworth Quaker School sampler from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Samplermaking styles (encompassing motifs, color palette, design placement) usually evolved from cultural, nationalistic roots. Quaker samplers are unique in that the motifs and designs used on them are entirely of the Friends’ own making. The style spread from Europe to America, and remained distinctive even in this widely separated environments. The Quaker designs are reflective of the Quaker theology, extolling the virtues of plainness, of standing apart from the sphere of influence of the outside world, and of peace and serenity (as symbolized by the popular sampler motifs of floating swans, wreaths, floral sprigs, and paired doves). At the Ackworth School in North Yorkshire in England, which was founded in 1779, some effort was made to standardize the Quaker samplermaking style. Emphasis was placed on instruction in practical embroidery, as well as fine penmanship (evident in the distinctive, clear, Roman style lettering on the samplers), geography, and French language. The origin of the geometric medallions used on this, and so many other Quaker school samplers, has not yet been discovered, but it might have something to do with providing a practical, hands-on lesson in applied geometry, as these motifs are very carefully calculated amalgams of isosceles triangles, parallelograms, and other precisely fitted geometric shapes. There is also some speculation that the medallion shapes might have been influenced by the designs on some eighteenth century Dutch samplers. Another mystery is why the Quaker schools clung so tenaciously to these same designs, for over forty years. Ann Grimshaw stitched this sampler on a plain weave woolen ground, using only black silk floss, in cross and eyelet stitches. Historical background on Ann and the Grimshaw family is provided in the kit.