Memorial samplers, dedicated to loved ones’ memories, were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. This example was done “to the memory of Martha, the beloved daughter of John and Eliza Norris.” It also commemorates another of their daughters, Sarah, “who departed this life January 15, 1869 in the 16th year of her age.”
There are four short spiritual verses done in black wool as was all the other writing in the sampler. The bottom section the stitcher, Hannah Johnson, prefaced her vignette with the moving words, “May they sleep in peace.” On either side of this sentiment are winged angels done in counted cross stitch. The central vignette includes a large stone pedestal topped with a large urn. On each side of this is greenery cascading down. The greenery was stitched in several shades of green wool, while the stone memorial was done in white, gray and black wool.
The sampler has the name of the stitcher and the date written as “Hannah Johnson Needlework 1872.”
Most of the letters were done in a decorative block style that enables the script to stand out. Some of the script was also done in small cross stitches. The combination of the large, decorative lettering and the charming vignette at the bottom makes for a very showy piece.
I have framed this large woolwork sampler in a wonderful antique, wide oak frame with beading on two edges. The dark oak frame suits this type of sampler quite well. It has attained a nice overall dark color with a soft patina.
The condition of the sampler is very good. There is some overall age toning and some age staining in the background linen. There are several places in the linen where the threads have separated and left small holes. The color retention is very good for a sampler that is 150 years old. I have had the woolwork sampler professionally conserved by stitching it onto an acid-free board. The condition of the antique frame is very good. There is some slight color loss in the corners and slight surface scratching.
It measures 29-½ inches wide by 37-¾ inches high, including the frame.