sampler, sample piece of needlework or embroidery, of silk, cotton, or worsted, for the preservation of some pattern or as an example of the ability of a child or a beginner. In museums and private collections there are samplers dating from as early as 1643. It was long the custom for each young girl to work her own sampler as soon as her needlework showed a proper degree of skill. Certain features of the sampler remained constant—the name of the maker, the date, the alphabet, texts from Scripture, proverbs or bits of verse, and a conventional border framing the whole.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.