Sampler by Caroline Thomson, 1846.
Conservation funded by the Otago Embroiderers’ Guild in 1996.

Wool tabby ground fabric, silk threads, 490mm x 380mm.

This is a very fine piece of work, another example of embroidery from a mid-nineteenth century Scottish school. It abandons the traditional Scottish colour scheme of red and green by including blue and fawn as well. It retains other conventional elements – the alphabet and number sequences, the moral verse, the school house symbol and the family initials – but is notable for the marvellous range and extremely high quality of spot motifs. These are so neatly arranged that although the work looks rather busy, the overall effect is elegant. This sampler repays close study. The traditional school house motif, for instance, is much enlivened here by the birds and animals that stud the yard in front, and by the two cottages that flank it. There is as well a very nicely worked floral border pattern running the edge,

Caroline Thomson was born at Aberlady in East Lothian, Scotland, about 1834. She worked this embroidery when she was at school aged 12 years. She emigrated to Otago on the Lady Egidia. The ship arrived in Port Chalmers on 28 January 1861 and within a fortnight Caroline was married to Peter Dunlop. Peter was also from Aberlady and was much the same age as Caroline. He had come to Otago in 1858 on the Three Bells. We can only imagine that the couple were sweethearts in Scotland and Peter had come ahead to get established in Dunedin before sending home for Caroline. Either that or the pair met up in Dunedin and enjoyed a whirlwind romance! The marriage took place at Peter’s own house, ‘Dunlop Cottage’, in Duncan Street. Caroline and Peter had at least five children and died within a year of each other – Caroline in 1898 and Peter the following year. The sampler was given to the Museum in 1946 by their daughter, Mrs Gibson
Caroline Thomson
Production Date
Sampler (with mount) 495x392mm