Sampler by Susanna Reid, 1853.
Conservation funded by the Otago Embroiderers’ Guild in 2004.

Linen fabric, wool and silk threads, 447mm x 304mm.

This sampler has a plain weave cotton ground embroidered with polychrome wool threads and black and white silk threads. Rows of alphabet and repeating number lines head the sampler. Beneath is the embroiderer’s name and school, edged by an arrangement of crown motifs, each with initials beneath. Baskets, flowering plants, trees and animals are worked in the lower section and at the centre bottom is a symmetrical building, probably representing the school. The colour scheme, general design, and particularly the blue slate-roofed school building, are typical of nineteenth-century Scottish samplers.

The sampler was worked by Susanna Reid at Lady Blair’s School, presumably at Straiton in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1853. Susanna was the second daughter of George Reid and Mary Gemmell of Straiton, born about 1839. The Blairs of Blairquhan were local lairds and Lady Blair seems to have established a school for the parish in Susanna’s time. Susanna demonstrates a high level of skill in the sampler, worked when she was about 14 years old and therefore near the end of her schooling. The building featured on the sampler looks like a picture of the actual school rather than a mere symbolic reference. Susanna has also worked into the embroidery numerous references to her family – William was a brother, Mary Anne a sister – but more family history would be required to decipher all of the initials. The Reids emigrated to Otago on the Arima in 1863. Susan (as she appears in all Otago records) was married the next year to James Anderson at the First Church manse in Dunedin. James was a Highlander from Kilfinnin, Argyllshire. After years roaming the Australian and Otago goldfields he had just bought a farm at Lovells Flat. He and Susan spent the rest of their lives there, raising four sons and four daughters. They celebrated their golden wedding in 1914. James died the next year but Susan survived until 1925. She died at her home at the age of 86. Her sampler was donated to the Museum by one of her daughters in 1958.
Susanna Reid
Production Date
Sampler 445x298mm
Mount 545x420mm