A sampler is essentially a piece of embroidery that was produced, usually by young girls, as a demonstration or test of their skill in needlework. They often include the alphabet, numbers, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes a verse and the name of the person who worked it and the date.
Today, samplers are often simply seen as nostalgic decorative pieces associated with interior design but in reality their historical role is much more than that.
The name ‘sampler’ is derived from the Medieval French word essamplaire, meaning a kind of model or pattern to copy or imitate. Before printed pattern books became available the only way embroidery designs could be transmitted was by being passed from hand to hand