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History

Samplers have been documented in Germany and Europe since the 16th century. Their origin is not exactly known, there are even examples from Asia from the 9 th century.
The first known written documents come from England.
in: Nina Gockerell etc.
first dated english sampler, 1598
material: Linen, silk yarn and metal thread
stitches: back, cross, satin, detached
buttonhole, plaited braid stich

The earliest printed pattern book was published by Johann Schönsperger in 1523 in Augsburg with the title "Furm- und Modelbüchlein". The most widespread might have being "Schön neues Modelbuch", published in 1597 in Nuremberg by Johannes Sibmacher. Both were reprinted in several editions.

Detail of the Cover of Johannes Sibmacher's book (in: Nina Gockerell etc.)

In my opinion you can find the most detailed and vivid description of the history of samplers in German in:
Nina Gockerell, Stickmustertücher, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München 1980.
Here I found the reproductions.

Vierlande Samplers - Vierlande is the name of an area near Hamburg, since 1868 part of Hamburg - represent in the broad spectrum of the various samplers a peculiarity.

Vierlande is a region, "where traditions used to be honoured, valuable property was painstakingly ornamented and then proudly displayed at the highlights of village life such as christenings, weddings and funerals. Even at a young age, girls practised cross stitch with black silk or wool for their trousseaus. Their main motifs were garlands of rosettes, as well as trees of life and crowned lozenge-shapes, besides a few letters."*)

Originally they were stitched almost exclusively with black silk on unbleached linen.

Their heyday was between 1770 and 1870.

They have an extraordinary remarkable charm by their structure, density and grafical succinctness, so they seem to be very 'modern'.

The rosette – the circle – is regarded as a universal symbol of entirety, infinity, perfection and is still in use in the wedding ring, in the bridal wreath and in the funeral wreath.
The rhombus – lacking the top – symbolizes the female creative principle: the birth. It is – in representation of the vulva as well – a symbol of life of many goddesses of fertility in the folk art of a great number of nations. The “female rhombus” (lozenge?) turns into the “loving heart”.
The cross – the axis in a rosette – is often used for the “axis of the world” (earth’s axis), the allegory of Christianity, the salvation of mankind.

 
Various small motives have a figurative sense: birds facing each other – love, small trees – tree of life, angel – angel of death, bird of death.
The embroiderers’ names often are abbreviated behind the initial letter of the first two syllables, e.g. Trin-ke Kru-se: TRKS, Met-te Lüt-ten-see: MTLTS.


Stitching is addictive.

And: THE WAY IS THE OBJECTIVE.


For many years I have been inspired by samplers.

There exist a great number of charts for wonderful historical samplers.

When I visited an exhibition in the former Museum of German Ethnology Berlin (now: Museum of European Culture) and saw the/my first Vierlande Sampler, a real passion has been awakened.

I tried to draw the patterns as exactly as possible. Stitch by stitch, cross by cross. I 'moved' the motifs only a very little bit, honestly respecting and admiring the young girls of the 18th and 19th century who have created - without any computer - such a harmonic work of art.
Finally I added my name and the year(s) of beginning and finishing of the embroidery.

*)  Pattern and motifs stitched and ornamented on textile ground
           VGS Verlagsgemeinschaft St. Gallen, Switzerland, 1996 (text: German + English), page 10

**)  literature:

Ulrike Zischka, 
Stickmustertücher aus dem Museum für deutsche Volkskunde,
Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin 1978 – 3. Auflage

Irmgard Gierl,
Die schönsten Stickmustertücher aus alter Zeit
,
Rosenheimer Verlag, 1993 – 3. Auflage

Christiane Gädtgens,
Norddeutsche Stickmuster aus Vierlanden,
Rosenheimer Verlag 1986

Clare Browne and Jennifer Wearden,
Samplers
from the Victoria and Albert Museum,
V&A Publications, 1999

**) Muster und Zeichen gestickt und gesammelt auf textilem Grund,
VGS Verlagsgemeinschaft St. Gallen, 1996, Seite 10

Gill Speirs and Sigrid Quemby,
A Treasury of Embroidery Designs
Charts and Patterns from the Great Collections
Westbridge Books, London 1985

Stephen and Carol Huber,
Treasure or not? How to compare & value SAMPLERS
,
Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Pamela Clabburn,
SAMPLERS - 2nd ed. - (The Shire book), 1977, wiederaufgelegt 2002

Elfi Connemann,
Ein Vierländer Stickmustertuch von 1826
in Ornamente 2/94

A. Meulenbelt-Nieuwburg, Irmgard Gierl,
Stickmotive aus alten Mustertüchern
Süddeutscher Verlag, 1984 – 2. Auflage

Stickmustertücher aus Altmark und Prignitz
Katalog zur Wanderausstellung von 1995 bis 1997, u.a. in Osterburg, Magdeburg, Perleberg, Stendal, Havelberg, Gemeinschaftsprojekt des Museumsverbundes Altmark und der Museen Havelberg, Perleberg, Genthin und Haldensleben, Hrsg. Kreisheimatmuseum Osterburg, 1995

 © Ute Scheer 2004

 

 

 

 

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