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It was published as a fund-raiser in c.1836 by the Dublin printer George Folds on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Education of the Poor of Ireland.

The society, which became better known as the Kildare Place Society, was established in 1811 by a group of enlightened locals, many of whom were Quakers.

School system

The aim was to form a national system of modern primary education on a non-denominational Christian basis (ie acceptable to both Protestant and Catholics). It was involved in teacher training for both men and women, the building of schools and the establishment of an inspectorate. An important part of its mission was the production of greatly improved publications for use by the pupils. This book ‘for the improvement of the poor’ includes ‘simple directions for plain and fancy works’ of needlework.

Needlework book

Pages from the c.1836 book Specimens of Needle-Work Executed in the Female Model School, Kildare-Place, Dublin sold for £7000 at Mellors & Kirk.

The album, measuring 6 x 9in (22 x 14cm) in morocco and marbled boards, is a rarity, retaining all the specimens of finished garments in miniature.

The various exercises mounted on printed leaves are arranged from first to 12th class and include examples of hosiery, darning, patchwork, straw plaiting, a corset, a smock and a woollen blanket. A linen sampler is inscribed Model School Kildare Place 1836.

Estimated at £800-1200 at the auction on July 12, it took £7000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) at Mellors & Kirk, selling to an online buyer via thesaleroom.com.

The V&A has a similar book by the society titled Simple Directions in Needlework and Cutting Out.