When I found and purchased Hannah's sampler last year online, I felt really lucky. It's always fun to add another sampler to the collection, but also, a Christmas tree on a sampler is extremely rare, especially in the 1830's. Christmas trees were uncommon with simple folk in Britain until the 1840's -- and in fact, only royalty (and the rich) had such an extravagance. As a teen, Queen Victoria had a Christmas tree in her room in the 1830's.
I also love that Hannah finished her sampler just a few short weeks before Christmas. It makes me wonder if her family had a tree, or if she really just wished that they did. Note the moth that is drawn to the tiny lights all over the tree. How charming!
The sampler itself is fairly simple in its style -- a number of stark black alphabets against the linen ground. The negative space around the letters and alphabets gives if kind of a Quaker feel (as do the particular alphabets chosen.) It was typical of a Quaker sampler to be stitched in just a color, or a few, but I can't be absolutely certain that is what this is.
The linen she used is a 30-count, and it has aged nicely. There is a little thread loss here-and-there, but overall, it's just in grand condition. Hannah was a fairly good little stitcher -- there are some flubs here and there in the border and in the lettering (the verse is especially quirky, as a lot of the letters are different from word-to-word.) The fibers are silks, and I am recommending Gloriana Florimell Antique Black and Needlepoint Silk 693. Stitch count is 208 by 255. The stitches used are cross stitch, cross over-one, Algerian eye, and four-sided stitch (MY FAVORITE!)
The verse is one found in a New England children's primer brought to America on the Mayflower by the Puritans. The poem is called "Learn These Four Lines by Heart." I found a charming snuff box online (from a previous auction) with this same little poem on it. I love the idea of it -- a virtuous statement along with the purpose of the snuff box: "Please, please try to be a virtuous and Godly person...now here, stick this up your nose." (The box is thought to be from the late 1700's to early 1800's.)
Hannah would no doubt be proud to know that so many of you are looking at her work today. You can purchase the chart by going to my Etsy site Letters Great and Small. Or you can have your favorite shop order the chart for you from Norden Crafts or Hoffman Distributing, who will have their copies in the next couple of days.
In personal news, I am nearing the end of my time as manager at the animal shelter -- the 21st is my last day. I am anxious to get back home to my family, and feel almost like I have been away for six months. I was able to bake an apple pie and make ham soup yesterday -- how wonderful.
She'll be with us through the holidays, no doubt, and we're glad to be able to help her out.
Happy stitching -- I'm excited to be getting ready to come back to the world of needlework!