[HNW] Regarding Samplers/Illiteracy

Racaire ego at racaire.at
Wed Aug 8 12:23:15 PDT 2007

Kay Staniland in the book "Medieval Craftsmen - Embroiderers" (for 
example) writes (page 62 Epilogue):
"... Samplers are known only from the early sixteenth century, although 
they must certainly have been worked for quite some time before this. 
They are a further manifestation of the rise of the amateur needlewoman 
and not all were worked by children. Some show an adult, even a 
proffessional, touch and documentary evidence indicates that originally 
the sampler was devised and used by adult needlewomen for a quite 
specific purpose. For instance at the beginning of the practice in the 
late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries no printed patterns for 
needlework existed. It was an obvious expedient, therefore, for 
needlewomen to make, and exchange, embroidered memoranda of any 
interesting designs that came to their notice so they could refer to 
them later as required. When finished, the sampler was kept carefully 
and was even bequeathed by will. In great households, indeed, samplers 
seem to have been collected together into reference libraries: an 
inventory of Joan the Mad, Queen of Spain, dated 1509, lists no fewer 
than fifty samplers, some worked in silk,others in gold thread. ....."
Racaire (SCA / Shire Ad Flumen Caerulum - Drachenwald)

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