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

The 13in (32cm) square example offered for sale at Kingham & Orme (20% buyer’s premium) in Evesham on March 1 was from a generation later – worked with a typical array of stylised and naturalistic foliate motifs and the words Mary Hart, Ackworth School 1810.

Part of the appeal of Ackworth samplers is the survival of many early records so Ms Hart (who attended the school from 1806-11) will doubtless be the subject of future research after the sampler sold for £6500.

Back in October Tayler & Fletcher of Bourton-on-the-Water sold another rare sampler – one worked with a repeating verse Die To Live Forever with the words Cheltenham Female Orphan Asylum to the border.

The institution was founded as the Cheltenham School of Industry on May 19, 1806, by Queen Charlotte for ‘female orphans descended from respectable parents’. Funds were raised by selling the considerable needleworking talents of the girls: the 1826 edition of Griffith’s New historical description of Cheltenham and its vicinity includes ‘A List of the Prices for Plain Work’ charged by the orphanage.

The Bourton-on-the-Water sampler had been overlooked by the auctioneers but sold at £14,000. Remarkably another near identical piece – if a little smaller at just 3½ x 4in (9 x 10cm) – turned up for sale at Bishop & Miller (20% buyer’s premium) of Stowmarket on February 7. It was estimated at £800-1200 and sold at £3400.

Alongside the tradition variables of date, condition and craftsmanship, sentiment is an important factor in the commercial worth of a sampler. Or two samplers.


Pair of samplers by the Rollings siblings – £6200 at Philip Serrell.

Estimated at just £40-60, two early 19th century samplers sold to a bidder using thesaleroom.com for £6200 at Philip Serrell (20% buyer’s premium) in Malvern on March 7.

Key to their appeal is that they are a true pair created by siblings. Both finely worked to a similar design incorporating the alphabet, numbers, flowers, birds and verses, one was named Mary Ann Rollings aged 14 years 1806, the other Christian Rollings aged 10 years 1806. Although both had holes, the colours remained strong.