Elizabeth Harborne 1647
Origin and date: English 1647
Linen count and finished size: 35-count hand-dyed, 7 1/2″x37″
Source: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
This remarkably well-preserved English band sampler pushes back the date of the first documented sampler with a verse (The next earliest is Martha Salter’s of 1651, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, also available as a kit.) According to Donald King in Samplers, published by the V&A, the appearance of the verse on a sampler suggests that the function of the sampler was beginning to change from a pattern record to a schoolroom exercise, even at this early date. You might also note the that the verse and attribution appear upside down. There is some evidence that early band samplers were worked from both directions, sometimes by two different stitchers. This characteristic does indicate that the sampler was not intended for display, even though it is marvelously well balanced and beautifully executed, from the traditional arcaded pansy, pineapple, rose and lily bands to the boxers and heraldic frogs at the bottom.