Wednesday - 01 October 2014

A £2200 token of love – Cumbrian medallion sampler surfaces in Cheltenham

18 July 2014Written by Roland Arkell

Among the most desirable of all needlework samplers are those associated with pupils at the Ackworth School, founded as a co-educational boarding school in 1779 by the Quaker physician John Fothergill and still thriving today.

Many of these 'medallion' designs, worked as gifts to classroom friends with motifs perhaps taken from watch papers, now form part of the school archive including the large polychrome example by pupil Sarah Moon dated 1791 sold at Tennants in 2006 for £8500.

But, as amply demonstrated by this eagerly contested needlework seen at Tayler & Fletcher of Cheltenham on June 12, medallion samplers were not unique to Ackworth or West Yorkshire. This framed and glazed sampler was worked in blue thread with a series of typical geometric and foliate designs as A gift for my friend and as A token of love by Nancy Stead of Wigton School in 1822.

Based on the outskirts of Wigton in Cumbria, the school was opened by the Society of Friends in 1815 - the initial intake of nine boys and eight girls housed in buildings leased at an annual rent of 27 guineas. Finally closed in 1984, the school's historic main building, built in 1826 in the classic Georgian style, was destroyed by fire five years later.

This memento of its earliest days, that had faded considerably and showed one or two small holes, had been overlooked by the auctioneers, but in the days of internet search engines few can have hoped to buy it at £30-50.

In the event it sold at £2200 - a decent price but a little less than one might have expected had there been an association with the Ackworth School.

The buyer's premium was 15%.

 

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