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Needlework sampler

Needlework sampler

c. 1845

Sarah Maria Munce (1833–1912?) (Deloraine, Tasmania)

textile (linen, wool)

43.5 h x 31w cm

Presented by ACG Knight, 1984



This sampler was presented to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery by Mr Arthur Knight in 1984, along with a large number of other objects, including five samplers and material relating to the Hutchinson family.


The original function of samplers was to serve as portable compendia of designs for imitation. In the sixteenth century, as embroidery became a desirable accomplishment for young ladies, the function of samplers shifted. Samplers were soon used primarily to display the skills and inventiveness of their makers. From the seventeenth century the making of samplers began to form part of the standard education of young ladies, this use continuing through to the early twentieth century.

The embroidering of alphabets and numbers had a dual function, teaching numeracy and literacy skills to young girls in addition to the craft of sewing. The use of the cross stitch, also known as sampler stitch, is typical for the nineteenth century. The meandering strawberry pattern along the lower edge of the sampler is also a traditional pattern.

This sampler was made by Sarah Maria Munce of Drumreagh, a property near Deloraine in northern Tasmania. This 1400 acre (566.6 hectare) property was granted to Sarah’s father, Samuel Munce (1788–1841). Land records indicate that Sarah Munce became a wealthy landowner in her own right, with several properties in the Deloraine area. Sarah married Henry Sandford Hutchinson, the first principal of Deloraine Grammar School in 1863; they had six children.


A vertical, rectangular sampler, cross-stitched in green and red thread on coarsely woven linen. A narrow border is cross-stitched in red thread. Within this border rows of letters and numbers embroidered in green alternate with bands of simple geometric patterns stitched in red. The lower part has the maker’s name, Sarah Maria Munce, and a band of strawberry pattern embroidered in green and red.

Statement of Significance

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery seeks to build a comprehensive representation of decorative arts made in Tasmania throughout the colonial period. This collection includes domestic textiles. Sarah Munce’s sampler is indicative of a continued use of sampler making for the education of young girls in the colonial context.


The maker’s name is incorporated into the embroidered design: ‘Sarah Maria Munce’.


K C Williams, The Munce Mystery – unrivalled 1690 Ireland, VDL 1832, 1982
Tasmaniana Library

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© 2009 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
This page was last modified on : 1 July, 2010