THIS SAMPLER was embroidered by Maria Darling in 1834. It demonstrates her skill with embroidering letters and numbers as well as various designs within a border. The verse reads:
What is the world, all things here
Tis but a bitter sweet.
When I attempt a rose to pluck,
A prickling thorn I meet.
This is one of the oldest objects we have in our collection. Unfortunately we know nothing about the young lady who made this, only that the item was donated to us when we first opened our museum in 1972.
Samplers were girls’ first exercise in needlework. Girls as young as five were taught the basic stitches and value was placed on neatness, order and obedience. Doing samplers was the way girls learned the alphabet and numbers.
The most common stiches were cross, herringbone, stem and chain. Girls repeated these stitches over and over. The exercises developed eye-hand coordination necessary for fine embroidery or darning.
From simple alphabet samplers, young girls graduated to making miniature garments such as shirts and aprons. These exercises were much the same throughout Europe and the colonies and they remained unchanged for generations.