Sampler by Clara Calder, c1877.

Cotton canvas, wool threads, 365mm x 310mm.

This sampler shows the elementary skills of a 10-year-old Dunedin schoolgirl of the 1870s. It has the conventional alphabet and number sequences, sub-divided by a variety of border patterns. There is a central spot motif of a bowl, flanked by matching plants (though with contrasting colour schemes) on either side. The sewer’s name and her age occupy the bottom portion.

Clara Calder was the daughter of Dunedin pioneers David Calder and Janet Adam Ure. Her father had come to Otago as a boy on the Mariner in 1849. Her grandfather, also David, was a stonemason and building contractor. He was an early land developer in Caversham and a number of the suburb’s street names honour members of the Calder family. Clara was born in July 1867 but her mother died just three weeks later. Her father soon remarried and had five more children but Clara may have been fostered out to members of the extended Calder family. In 1877 she began attending Caversham School, presumably where she worked this sampler. She left to become a pupil teacher in 1882 and subsequently married Thomas Farnie. The Farnies seem to have left Otago and her sampler joined a group of family samplers that was donated to the Museum from the estate of her half-sister Sarah in 1957.
Clara Calder
Production Date
Circa 1877
380 (h) x 315 (w) mm
452 (h) x 353 (w) mm (mounted)