A very early (dated 1757) Dutch Darning Sampler, signed in the center “MV.” The signature medallion in the center of the sampler also says “Anno 1757,” and it is surrounded by a very intricate diamond pattern frame that gives the appearance (and color) of a Delft Tile. There are 14 areas on this sampler that have been “darned” with a variety of stitches, some quite intricate. Darning samplers were the test of a young girl’s stitching skills. Designed to teach girls how to fix clothing that may have been torn, darning samplers were important parts of a young woman’s practical education. I am told (never having ‘darned’ myself!) that holes were actually cut in the linen backing of these samplers, the girl’s project was to fix the holes neatly and securely. If you look closely at the close-ups of the darned areas, you will see that there are a whole variety of stitches, and there is no evidence that there ever was a hole.
This sampler measure 17 ¼” x 18 ¾” (sight size) and overall frame size is about 19 ¼” x 20 ¾”. The frame is wood, but not original: a good mid-20th century substitute. The sampler itself is in good condition, with no rips, tears or missing stitches. There is some light to moderate, scattered staining, which is not as obtrusive as the photos may make it out. A rare and very early example.