Cassandra’s Sampler

Object name: Late 18th century sampler in wooden frame

Object number: CHWJA:JAH149

Category: Object

Description: Sampler worked by Jane Austen’s sister, Cassandra Elizabeth Austen, in a wooden frame. Late 18th century. The sampler measures 24.8cm x 30.8cm.

Made: Circa 1780 – 1785

Context: In the late 18th century, samplers were an educational tool for young girls, which helped them to develop essential needleworking skills whilst also supporting their learning of the alphabet and numbers.

This simple sampler, stitched by Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra, was probably the first sampler that Cassandra made. It is a simple marking sampler, featuring several lines of letters and numerals along with some practice rows of straightforward decorative patterns. This type of sampler was not meant for display, it was designed to allow a girl to develop the skills needed to mark the household linen such as sheets, curtains, undergarments and other clothing, so they could be easily identified when sent out to be laundered or repaired.  Marking the linen was often one of the first household jobs to be given to a female child.

Once the skills for marking were developed,  the young lady could move on to more intricate and creative pieces that allowed her to showcase her education and accomplishments.

This sampler was donated to the museum by a descendant of Jane and Cassandra’s youngest brother Charles.

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